Golllllleeee, Shenanigans Stall Safeguards

The Governor’s budget cuts near $500 million. Furloughs and layoffs loom. Medicaid reimbursements are going down. State retirement moves to 30 years service. Unemployment hovers at 12%.

Others have it worse. Michigan, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon have joined California as states in “deep financial crisis,” according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Nations are at risk – Greece, Portugal, and Dubai. The International Monetary Fund issued “a grim prognosis” for the U.S., Britain, and other “advanced” nations with high and growing debt levels.

Thank goodness this cannot happen again!

Ding-a-ling. Hello. What?

It can happen again? Congress still hasn’t put safeguards in place?

Golllllee, as Gomer used to say.

It appears that “financial weapons of mass destruction,” as Warren Buffet calls them, remain in use. “Derivative” trading increased over 200 percent in 2009 with four banks still controlling over 90 percent of the market: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citibank.

“By any standard these exposures remain very high,” reported Kathryn E. Dick, the OCC’s deputy comptroller for credit and market risk. SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro warned that, unfettered, such investments “could bring further economic damage.”

But, Congress has not acted.

So, what is Congress up to?

Hard to tell, but shenanigans for sure.

Rep. Barney Frank completely bypassed his Committee on Financial Services and rammed his 1300 page bill through the House (223-202) over a nine-day period in December. Sen. Chris Dodd shoved his 1336 page version through his Banking Committee last week after committee members from both parties abruptly withdrew 500 pending amendments.

Do not doubt that these bills contain lots of things beside basic safeguards. Be aware that more organizations are lobbying financial reform than healthcare or any other issue. And, wonder why the usual legislative process has been thrown out the window.

Commentators suggest Dodd and Republican Sen. Richard Shelby are having backroom discussions to work out a deal, like they did on credit card reform. Publicly, Shelby offers only criticism of Dodd’s plan. Others say Democrats timed this to refocus public attention post-healthcare on an issue they can ride into fall elections.

Lehman Brothers…AIG…bogus “derivative” asset values…unmitigated leverage and risk-taking…the worldwide financial crisis…Wall Street crashes….

Remember?

Polls show most Americans not only remember, but remain angry.

Homeland Security views the financial system as a national security issue. “Long before 9/11/01, analysts identified financial sector system vulnerabilities as elements of national economic security in the work of the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection in 1996 and 1997,” reads a Congressional Research Service report on Homeland Security protective systems.

Clearly, this issue is too important for political shenanigans.

Hellooooo Congress.

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