Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

RNC Deja Vu

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

As Hurricane Isaac barreled its way up the Gulf Coast, the GOP was forced to cancel the first day of its Tampa-based 2012 nominating convention because of the whims of Mother Nature.

The storm brought back unwanted memories of 2008’’s Hurricane Gustav, which forced the Republicans to postpone the start of the convention that nominated John McCain for president  — a gathering that was held more than 1,000 miles away in St. Paul.  In fact, Gustav caused outgoing President George W. Bush to cancel his planned convention speech and stay in Washington, D.C., to monitor the storm‘s progress.

Republican strategists believe that the storm will limit the media coverage that the GOP receives to launch Romney.   “We are going to make sure that we monitor the storm as it proceeds,” said Russ Schriefer, a Romney adviser who is helping to produce the convention.  “Obviously, our first concern is for the people who are in the path of the storm.  We have a wait-and-see attitude.”  Monday’s streamlined program consisted of RNC chair Reince Priebus’ ceremonial rap of the gavel to a virtually empty convention hall.  The television networks, which planned just one hour a night of prime-time coverage, divided their attention between the convention and the storm.  An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, referred to the gathering as “the incredible shrinking convention

The convention was more or less back to normal scheduling on Tuesday,  with the highlights expected to be prime-time speeches by Ann Romney and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Television programming on Monday night mostly reverted to the networks’ usual schedules.  According to Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief,  while the network hasn’’t moved any staff covering the convention out of Tampa to cover the storm, it plans to contrast the weather story with the political one.  “”You’’ll see us mixing both stories together, because they’’re both connected, and you’’ll see us covering both,” Feist said.  “We certainly can walk and chew gum at the same time.””

Writing in the Washington Post, Dana Milbank notes that “the RNC’’s Priebus contributed to the irrelevance with his seven-minute show on Monday.  He took the stage to tepid applause from a sparse crowd. “‘Wow!’ he said.  ‘It is my privilege to proclaim the 2012 Republican National Convention in session and called to order”,’ Priebus said.”

On a more serious note, the slow-moving Isaac — which hit the Crescent City as a Category 1 hurricane with heavy rain and winds up to 100 mph — is also likely to test the federal response to a natural disaster in the region on the seventh anniversary of the tragic Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans.  Although Tampa was spared the worst of Isaac’s wrath, landfall in Louisiana could create painful split-screen images of the convention juxtaposed with the hurricane.

Dodd-Frank Bill Collides Head On With Deficit Realities

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Implementation of the historic Dodd-Frank bill – which President Barack Obama signed into law last July to regulate Wall Street against the excesses that led to the Great Recession — is in danger of being gutted if Republicans’ proposed deep spending cuts become a reality.  Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) pointedly criticized Republicans’ proposal to slash government spending to 2008 levels. According to Frank, that is not an option because the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) need funding to hire hundreds of employees to write and issue regulations to give the new law teeth.  Frank co-sponsored the bill with former Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT).

Unfortunately, the positive things that Dodd-Frank was designed to accomplish have run head on into the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) bleak warning about the direction of the nation’s debt.  According to NPR  Planet Money correspondent David Welna, “It was not a pretty picture that CBO director Douglas Elmendorf painted as he sat before the budget committee”. This year’s deficit, he said, will be nearly $1.5 trillion dollars, nominally the largest in history.  And if the tax breaks that got extended this year continue throughout the next decade, Elmendorf said the nation’s debt would grow to be the size of its economy, something that hasn’t happened since the end of World War II.  The time to do something about it, he told the grim-faced panel of senators, is now.”

Elmendorf warned that “The longer the necessary adjustments are delayed, the greater will be the negative consequences of the mounting debt, the more uncertain individuals and businesses will be about the future government policies, and the more drastic the ultimate policy changes will need to be.”  Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said “The thing that makes the most sense is there is a summit between the White House, leaders in the House and the Senate, because at the end of the day, the White House has got to be at the table. And unfortunately, during the budget process, the president is left out.”  NPR’s Welna continues, “The revenue side of the equation, of course, is taxes and raising them has been a taboo topic for most in the GOP.  But the likely need for more revenues was underscored toward the end of today’s hearing when Conrad noted that the Social Security surplus that lawmakers have been raiding for years disappeared this year and instead, Social Security has started cashing in its IOUs with the Treasury.”  Social Security will post nearly $600 billion in deficits over the next 10 years as the economy recovers and millions of baby boomers begin retiring, according to new congressional projections.

House Republicans, led by Representative Scott Garrett (R-NJ), chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, wants to cut $55 to $60 billion in non-defense spending during fiscal year 2011.  “A dramatic spending increase to fund the SEC and CFTC, as envisioned by the authors of the Dodd-Frank legislation, would further the mindset that our nation’s problems can be solved with more spending, not more efficiency,” according to Garrett.  Frank countered that Garrett’s comments only reinforce his “fear that Republicans are attempting to cripple regulation by failing to fund it.  I had thought even among people in the Tea Party that credit default swaps were not that popular.  We’re arguing the security of the average American was far more endangered by the financial crisis than by a lot of other things that our military does.”

If the cuts are put into place, the SEC and CFTC would be frustrated in their mandates, such as setting up a new office of municipal securities, according to Frank.  The Republican response to Democratic concerns is that their goal is to make federal regulators more efficient.  Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said “Past experience indicates that a few investigative reporters have been more effective than the many employees at the SEC in addressing and exposing financial wrongdoing.”

House GOP Taking a Second Look at Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Law

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Congressional Republicans may water down the financial reform law.  The newly empowered Republicans in the House of Representatives will attempt to rein in regulators who are in the process of implementing the comprehensive reform of financial rules and advocate for a smaller government role in the mortgage market.  By taking control of the House in the recent mid-term elections, the GOP will have more influence over the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and greater sway over any technical fixes that Congress makes to rules that govern derivatives trading.

“We don’t want them to regulate capriciously, arbitrarily, without engaging in a cost-benefit analysis,” said Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a member of the House Financial Services Committee.  President Barack Obama brought attention to the Republicans’ intent in a recent radio and Internet address, noting that House and Senate members “are now beating the drum to repeal all of these reforms and consumer protections.  I think it would be a terrible mistake,” he said.

With Democrats still in control of the Senate and in the White House, it’s highly unlikely that the Republicans will be able to carry out a fundamental revision or even repeal of the Dodd-Frank law.  There’s also the possibility of a presidential veto if repeal legislation makes it through both houses on Congress.  Because the Republicans now have a majority in the House, the diminished number of Senate Democrats will have to reach across party lines on financial issues for the simple reason that any changes will require support from both parties.  Bipartisan compromise will be used to arrive at consensus in the next Congress, said Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), who is replacing the retiring Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), who headed the Senate Banking Committee.  According to Johnson, “We sometimes differ on how we achieve our goals, but we have to agree more often than not.”