Category Archives: Congress

Republican Malevolence Unleashed

boris and snidelyThe Republican Party, abandoning any pretense of public service, has begun full burn legislating against the interests of the American people. After eight years of obstruction, they are in a fury to pass bills that will accomplish two things: Undoing everything President Obama did, and/or burn America to the ground.

Since the 115th Congress convened on January 6th, Republicans have moved to

AND THAT’S JUST THE FIRST MONTH.

At their recent retreat Republicans argued, not over how to make the Affordable Care Act better, but whether or not they could get away with yanking it out from under people.

corkerBob Corker (R Millionaire TN) meanwhile, lamented that his party might not find the “moral courage” to destroy Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as the Washington Post reports:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker was the most outspoken in questioning whether Republicans would be able to stomach making the kind of cuts necessary to fund a Republican wish list of new defense and foreign policy priorities.

“I’m sorry, I wonder sometimes where we as a party are going,” Corker (R-Tenn.) told a roomful of House and Senate Republicans Thursday during a national security discussion, adding that he was “discouraged” by the apparent lip service being paid to the potential costs. “There’s a spending side of this that if we don’t deal with, we’re not going to come close to defending the needs of our country,” he warned. “I fear that we’re going to leave here without thinking of the other side of the equation.

THIS is the equation that matters, Folks:

defense spending

Does anyone believe we’re somehow falling behind? And what about this equation:

tax-policybasics

Our financial issues aren’t a result of Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid; they are due to the absence of vertebrae in the Republican Congress when it comes to corporate taxation.

Consider this info from The Motley Fool:

When companies get sued, they’re allowed to deduct the amounts they have to pay in damages to compensate their victims against their taxable income…this forces taxpayers to share in the financial fallout of their actions.

…cruise lines are structured to ensure that their profits aren’t American, even if their operations are.

…some companies are getting a killer tax break through a method commonly known as tax inversion deals… a domestic company purchases a foreign company in a country with a lower marginal corporate tax rate than the United States and then re domiciles its headquarters in the foreign country.

According to some studies, more than $2 trillion is being stored abroad, and that means that more than $600 billion in taxes is not being collected.

Then there’s this, from Forbes:

The New Markets Tax Credit was meant to create jobs in low income areas, but instead steered nearly $1 billion to wealthy investors and Wall Street banks.

…the Research and Development Tax Credit was meant to encourage mid-sized companies to increase R&D, but 80% went to huge companies like Google, Intel, Boeing and Apple.

Prostitution is illegal almost everywhere, but Nevada’s Mustang Ranch writes off free passes as a promotional expense. Workers claim business deductions for breast implants and costumes.

the NFL, NHL, and PGA Tour are classified as non-profits, exempting their earnings from federal income taxes…but they pay out million-dollar salaries.

And don’t even get me started on the Capital Gains Tax, where the wealthy pay less in taxes for doing nothing, than people do for actually working.

These so-called “fiscally responsible” Republicans could reduce the deficit, and pay down the debt without touching social programs… if they wanted to. But there is an insidious endgame here:

Republicans don’t want upward mobility; they don’t want an educated citizenry; these things are too dangerous to them. They want a 2-Tier System of wealth and labor. And if we don’t do something about it, that’s exactly what they’ll have.

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Here are some sites you might be interested in:

resist

resist2

SURJ_color_logo

resist_and_defend_human_rights

 

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Filed under Congress, Politics, Republicans, the-guy-currently-residing-in-the-white-house

Jamie Dimon: Too Darned Many Regulators!

Jamie Dimon Thinks Banks Have Too Many Regulators to Deal With

In a conference call with reporters last week, JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, complained that there are too many regulators watching the big banks:

Jamie Dimon crybaby“In the old days, you dealt with one regulator when you had an issue, maybe two. Now it’s five or six. It makes it very difficult and very complicated. You all should ask the question about how American that is. …how fair that is, …how complex that is for companies.”

Well, “in the old days” there weren’t as many creative ways to rip Americans off, something Jamie Dimon’s bank has turned into an art.

Why JPMorgan Chase Needs So Many Regulators

Barry Ritholtz, of The Big Picture, has a rundown of JP Morgan’s most recent fines. These stem from such things as foreclosure abuses, electricity market and currency manipulation, illegal credit card practices, and misleading investors:

Since 2011, JPM has been fined $8B:

$56 million (April 2011)give a man a bank
$153.6 million (June 2011)
$229 Million (July 2011)
$88.3 Million (August 2011)
$5.29 Billion (February 2012)
$110 million (February 2012)
$150 million (March 2012)
$296.9 million (November 2012)
X% of $8.5 billion (January 2013)
$100 million (March 2013)
$410 million FERC settlement (August 2013)
$900 million (September 19, 2013)

Nooo, they don’t need no stinkin’ regulators. Dimon is lucky the Justice Department isn’t camped out in his office. Despite blatant financial crimes like those of JPMorgan Chase, Republicans still rail against regulations.

Republicans Would Rather Scale Back Consumer Protections

Rather than reigning in corporate malfeasance, Republicans have aimed their sights at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was established after the banking meltdown to protect consumers from predatory businesses like Mr. Dimon’s. Here are a few ways CFPB has helped Americans since it was formed, courtesy of Americans for Financial Reform:

The CFPB has successfully required credit card companies to return $1.5 billion dollars to the consumers they ripped off with deceptive and fraudulent add on products, and reined in the practices that led to those abusive sales

Beginning in 2012, the CFPB has brought enforcement actions against Bank of America, American Express subsidiaries, Chase Bank, and Capitol One, resulting in more than $1.5 billion paid back to over 10 million consumers…

The CFPB has written rules to end mortgage loans that borrowers can’t afford to repay, and has limited high fees and abusive payment structures

The CFPB’s new mortgage rules require that lenders verify borrowers’ ability to repay before making a home loan, and cordon off the kinds of high fees and deceptively-structured mortgages that were a central cause of the mortgage and financial crisis…

The CFPB is standing up for borrowers and families struggling with student loans

In March 2014, the CFPB took its first public enforcement action against a company in the for-profit college industry, filing a lawsuit against ITT Educational Services, Inc. for engaging in predatory student lending practices that the agency argues are pushing students into high-cost private student loans that inevitably will default. In December 2013 the agency issued a ruling allowing it to supervise certain nonbank student loan servicers for the first time, bringing federal oversight to the nation’s second largest debt market…

CFPB data collection and analysis has exhaustively documented serious abuses in the payday lending market

The CFPB reports on payday lending, which examined more extensive data than had ever been available before to anyone outside the industry, vividly demonstrated how frequently payday loans trap borrowers in debt. The studies found that the median loan issued was for $350, with an APR of 322 percent…

The CFPB is shutting down ‘last dollar’ scams that charge up-front fees for help that does not get delivered

‘Last dollar’ scams include deceptive mortgage servicing schemes, abusive debt collection tactics, and other bogus offers related to credit repair services and debt relief promises…

Republican Majority Seen As “Friends in Congress” to Big Business

With a Republican majority in the House and Senate, or as business entities have put it: Friends in Congress, you can expect Republicans to thwart the efforts of the CFPB wherever possible. In the meantime, Jamie Dimon has a Congress full of sympathetic ears to tell his regulatory woes to. Don’t think for a minute that  JPMorgan Chase has or will change its business practices. According to a 2014 report in the New York Times:

“The fines have been manageable in the context of the bank’s earnings capacity,” Jason Goldberg, a bank analyst at Barclays, said. “It makes $25 billion in revenue per quarter and has record capital.”

… JPMorgan … has steadily set aside reserves over the last few years to finance future legal payouts.

No mention of any planning ahead when it comes to doing business with integrity.

cross-posted@ All Things Democrat

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Filed under Banking regulation, Congress, Corporate Crime, Politics

Benghazi Investigation Rapidly Deflates

What Was Benghazi Investigation Really For?

After almost two years of incessant Conservative hawking of the Benghazi tragedy for political purposes, FINALLY… just listen for a minute… can you hear it? That’s the sound of stunned “what do we do now?” silence from the Right and their political media suck-ups as one more scandal balloon deflates. In fact, Chairman Issa’s “oversight” batting average should have sent him back to the minor leagues long ago.

remember-benghazi-91112-battaile-politics-1352843729

It seems the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has concluded its Benghazi investigation, and voted to declassify their report which, according to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) via the San Francisco Chronicle finds:

– Intelligence agencies were “warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened.”

— “A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack.”

— “There was no ‘stand-down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind.”

— The administration’s process for developing “talking points” was “flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”

Conservatives have done their best to keep the Benghazi balloon in the air with endless committees and investigations, as Steve Benen reports:

“… the deadly violence in Benghazi two years ago has now been investigated by the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the independent State Department Accountability Review Board, the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

What Did the Benghazi Investigation Cost Us?

So what did this political witch hunt/swamp-walk by the “fiscally responsible” party cost taxpayers? According to the Associated Press:

The Pentagon says Congress’ multiple investigations of the deadly 2012 attack… have cost the department millions of dollars and thousands of hours of personnel time.

… the Pentagon described repetitive requests for information from about 50 congressional hearings, briefings and interviews…

On top of that, if Boehner’s House Select Committee goes ahead with their scheduled hearings in September, that will chalk up another $3 million or so.

issaIn 2010, after becoming Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa told Politico:

“I want seven hearings a week, times 40 weeks.”

… he isn’t looking to catch witnesses off guard, saying that “oversight should be done with a balance for the American people and not as a gotcha.”

And we all know how long that bit of b.s. lasted. By the way, how does one establish how many hearings he wants before he knows how many things actually require a hearing?

Mr. Issa would have been better suited as a Nun in some parochial school where he could spend all day rapping children’s  knuckles with a ruler until they bled.

What Will They Do Now?

Once the crying’s over, what will Darrell Issa and his fellow pud pounders do with their time? Well, they just left for their 5 week summer vacation, so my guess would be – begging to keep their jobs. Feel free to send me any pictures of Darrell Issa groveling before his constituency; I’ll be glad to publish them. With proper credits of course.

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Filed under Benghazi, Congress, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, The Tea Party