Bailout “Fails” so Paulson Wants to Expand It

Ever since the “billionaire bailout” of Wall Street passed nearly two weeks ago, the market has signaled its displeasure in the goverment’s decision to shore up the failing system. The bailout passed on a Friday and the following week the Dow had its worse week in history. This created an environment where the Administration took hits for their “failed plan”- a plan that had not even been put into practice. But since markets look forward, expectations of the effects of the plan helped bring about the miserable week on Wall Street.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to back Democrat Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, claims she’s more “pro-business” than Ted Cruz

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce took a central role in the Republican civil war last year, pledging $50 million elect purportedly “pro-business” candidates in the 2014 election. The Chamber played a big part in the reelection of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) last month, pouring $1.2 million in the Magnolia State to help knock off his conservative primary challenger.

Establishment Republicans like to defend the Chamber. They say the Chamber is a crucial ally for the GOP, especially in the 2014 mid-term election. Well, good luck defending this one, guys. The Chamber is reportedly planning to endorse Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in the Louisiana Senate race:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is reportedly throwing support behind Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), according to the group’s national political director, Rob Engstrom.

Engstrom told the audience at a Committee of 100 meeting that the group would support Landrieu in her fight to win re-election, according to The New York Times’ Joe Nocera.

Keep in mind that this race is key to Republicans taking control of the Senate this fall. There’s still a path to a majority without Louisiana, at least on paper, but it’s hard to see it taking shape without a win there. Now, the Chamber claims that that “no decisions have been made” on this race. But it fits a pattern:

Taxpayers lose billions on GM bailout

General Motors

President Barack Obama staked his re-election bid partly on the notion that he rescued struggling automakers through expensive bailouts and, thus, saved Detroit. But what was one of America’s great cities has plunged into bankruptcy and taxpayers have been left on the hook for billions of dollars as the federal government seeks to unload its stake in General Motors (GM).

The Treasury Department has quietly revealed this week that taxpayers lost $9.7 billion in the Obama Administration’s bailout of GM, which was more of a bailout for the auto manufacturer’s labor unions that support President Obama than anything else:

FreedomWorks urges “no” vote on Syria war resolution

FreedomWorks -- Syria

The push from the Tea Party against the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) in Syria just got a little stronger.

FreedomWorks, a grassroots group with more than six million members, announced this morning that they are urging members of Congress to vote against the Syria resolution. They will also score the vote on their scorecard.

“Congress should be focusing on the red ink at home, not arbitrarily established red lines abroad. As a membership organization, FreedomWorks has been overwhelmed with requests to help activists express their voice in this debate,” said Matt Kibbe, president and CEO of FreedomWorks. “A broad coalition of Americans, including the millions of grassroots activists represented in the FreedomWorks community, has already roundly rejected the Obama Administration’s rationale for bombing Syria. Congress ignores the will of the voters on this issue at their own peril.”

Kibbe said the vote represents the “‘insiders versus the rest of us’ dynamic” that is so prevalent in Washington, comparing the Syria resolution to the TARP bailout. He went onto note that the limited military strikes the Obama Administration is proposing may well turn into a costly, prolonged engagement.

“When they convene, Congress will consider short-term actions. They should also reflect upon long-term costs associated with those actions,” he said. “There is no guarantee that ‘limited’ military operations in Syria will lead to a ‘limited’ result. The costs of brinksmanship in an ongoing civil war are steep, and a collapse of state would fall in our laps. In other words, if we break it, we buy it.”

South Carolina conservatives present resolution to “replace” Lindsey Graham

With a field of conservative challengers set, South Carolina conservatives seem ready to take on the task of replacing Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

During a meeting last week, the Greenville County Republican Executive Committee presented resolution in support of replacing Graham, listing off a number of actions and votes he has taken that they find to be “fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of the South Carolina Republican Party.”

Among the 29 specific grievances, the Greenville County Republican Executive Committee notes that Graham has voted for President Obama’s “radical appointments” to the Supreme Court, supported giving aid to elements of al-Qaeda in Syria, and his backing of NSA surveillance of innocent Americans. They also note Graham’s vote for the TARP bailout and his support of new carbon regulations and taxes.

The resolution, which was made available by Joshua Cook at BenSwann.com, states that Graham “should be replaced as Senator for the State of South Carolina at the earliest possible electoral opportunity” and urges other local parties in the state take a similar action.

It’s worth noting that the Greenville County Republican Executive Committee passed a similar resolution in 2010, more than two years after Graham easily dispensed of a primary challenger.

Graham will have more competition this year, facing three primary challengers as he has continued to lose favor with conservatives in the Palmetto State.

Fiscal cliff deal: TARP 2.0

In the fall of the 2008, the Bush Administration and Congress ironed out the details of what would come to be known as TARP in secret negotiations, hoping that rent-seekers on Wall Street would react positively. Fast-forward to 2013 — Washington has done it again.

Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks explains that Congress has again stuck it to hard-working Americans with the passage of the “fiscal cliff” deal that not only raises their taxes, but includes special interest tax breaks and corporate welfare:

On New Year’s Day, Republicans and Democrats joined together to bilk taxpayers with their phony “fiscal cliff” deal. They voted to raise taxes on 77% of Americans, yet larded the bill with pork, corporate welfare, and special-interest giveaways. They voted to increase spending by $330 billion, while throwing around buzzwords like “compromise” and “deficit reduction.” And they once again postponed the promised sequester spending cuts negotiated in 2011.

It was a team effort. Senator Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden drafted an outrageous bill behind closed doors; Harry Reid gave Senators all of 6 minutes to read and vote on the bill around 1:30am on New Year’s Eve when nobody was watching; Speaker Boehner scheduled a rushed, up-or-down vote in the House the following day without allowing for sufficient time to read or amend the bill.

This type of collusion against the average American is no surprise. Republicans have been negotiating with themselves ever since the Boehner-led House Republicans passed the consensus “Cut Cap Balance Act” in July 2011 and then began walking away from it. Democrats have been winning since that day, and the goal of fiscal responsibility has been losing.

Saxby Chambliss is more like a poodle when it comes to fighting spending


Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), facing heat for his less than fiscally conservative record, is trying his best to appease the Republican base. During a conference call with reporters last week, Chambliss echoed a familiar line that we’ve heard from Republicans since they rolled over during the “fiscal cliff” debate:

Obama has promised not to get entangled in protracted negotiations during March’s vote on raising the federal debt limit and the extension of the spending authorization like those that dragged on for weeks before the “fiscal cliff” of sweeping spending cuts and tax increases that triggered automatically at midnight Monday.

The Georgia Republican dismissed that promise.

“My message to you, Mr. President, is you’d better strap on your chin strap very tight because this junkyard dog is going to address spending cuts and entitlement reform in the debt-ceiling debate, and that’s going to be a line in the sand for us Republicans and conservatives,” Chambliss said.


It’s time to separate “rhetorical Paul Ryan” from “actual Paul Ryan”

Paul Ryan

The “fiscal cliff” battle is over. Republicans lost, save getting the threshold for taxes increased to $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families. The talking point coming from Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and a host of other Republicans who voted for the deal is that they’re done negotiating with the White House and will leverage the upcoming debt ceiling fight for spending cuts.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who chairs the House Budget Committee, also said something similar last week when asked about his vote for the “fiscal cliff” deal:

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday defended his vote for the last minute fiscal cliff legislation that passed Congress this week, saying he supported it to “get this issue behind us, … prevent this massive tax increase and … focus on spending now.”

The 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee acknowledged in an interview with a Milwaukee radio host that he realized he would be criticized for his vote to extend tax cuts for most Americans while raising taxes on the wealthy, but said it was the best deal Republicans could get under the circumstances.

“What I know in my conscience is 98 percent of the families in Wisconsin are not going to get hit with a massive tax increase,” Ryan said Thursday, during an appearance on 620 WTMJ with Charlie Sykes.

Government to bail on bailout, taxpayers the ones getting screwed

Remember that bailout of General Motors?  It spurred a lot of emotions in small government types, most of whom knew that taxpayers would never see anything approaching a return on investment.  Well, earlier today, we found out just how much taxpayers are getting boned for.

From Politico:

The Treasury Department on Wednesday announced plans to sell the government’s remaining shares of Detroit-based automaker General Motors in the latest in a recent string of moves by the administration to unwind controversial taxpayer bailouts stemming from the financial crisis.

Although the sale will allow the federal government to unload its investments in the auto industry company, it will almost certainly do so at a loss to taxpayers worth billions of dollars.

In an October report, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program estimated Treasury would need to sell the remaining 500 million shares at $53.98 per share to break even on its investment.

“This announcement is an important step in bringing closure to the successful auto industry rescue, it further removes the perception of government ownership of GM among customers, and it demonstrates confidence in GM’s progress and our future,” GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement.

Of course, that depends on how one defines “successful”, doesn’t it?  To be sure, the numbers coming out of Detriot sound great, but there is still the question of whether a bailout of GM and Chrysler was the best option for the industry.  However, that’s a topic for another day.

Boehner urges unity from House Republicans in “fiscal cliff” talks


Since Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner has been urging President Barack Obama to take the lead on the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect next year, and has hinted that he’s open to tax reform that would raise revenues while promoting growth. Obama, however, has been pushing a tax hike on higher-income earners, which is a non-starter in the House.

Boehner has also spoken to members of his caucus, telling them that they can’t affford to deal with another fiscal showdown with President Obama:

On a conference call with House Republicans a day after the party’s electoral battering last week, Speaker John A. Boehner dished out some bitter medicine, and for the first time in the 112th Congress, most members took their dose.

Their party lost, badly, Mr. Boehner said, and while Republicans would still control the House and would continue to staunchly oppose tax rate increases as Congress grapples with the impending fiscal battle, they had to avoid the nasty showdowns that marked so much of the last two years.

Members on the call, subdued and dark, murmured words of support — even a few who had been a thorn in the speaker’s side for much of this Congress.

It was a striking contrast to a similar call last year, when Mr. Boehner tried to persuade members to compromise with Democrats on a deal to extend a temporary cut in payroll taxes, only to have them loudly revolt.

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