Skip

Obama signs Wall Street reform bill
July 21, 2010 3:23 PM   Subscribe


 
It's not everything we'd hoped for, but a damn sight better than we had.

And it's light years beyond where we'd be if McCain/Palin had won the election, so yeah, once again, I'm happy with my vote for Obama and the Dems in Congress.
posted by darkstar at 3:29 PM on July 21, 2010 [20 favorites]


While the poutrageous left (mainly via blogs) sucked all of the media oxygen up on the Ag Dept faux scandal and played right into the hands of the Right, the Prez was busy getting shit done. One piece at a time. This is but one more in a helluva series of legislative accomplishments in a first term with an opposition party bent on nihilism and gridlock and a base bent on shooting themselves in the foot. Bravo.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:33 PM on July 21, 2010 [19 favorites]


I'm glad the Administration could find a Democratic middle manager willing to sign his name to an obvious press release, and that HuffPo agreed to run it. However, I'm not holding my breath for the InStyle-esque "{number} ways the reform law sucks ass."
posted by rhizome at 3:34 PM on July 21, 2010


Thanks for this post. I'd prefer reinstatement of Glass-Steagall myself but this bill is not bad. Here's an interesting Atlantic article which illuminated for me why the bill was framed as it is (and why the "bailout" was actually a good thing for all of us.)
posted by bearwife at 3:36 PM on July 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Remember when there was a meme about Obama not doing anything? Yeah that was less than a year ago.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:36 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Consumer Hotline: Creates a national consumer complaint hotline so consumers will have, for the first time, a single, toll-free number to report problems with financial products and services

Omg a new era of prank phone calls has begun.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:37 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Haven't read through all the links, but looks good to me. Better than what came before, and hopefully we can build on it.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:37 PM on July 21, 2010


Remember when there was a meme about Obama not doing anything? Yeah that was less than a year ago.

And I can guarantee you that in a few weeks, when some new crisis turns up and the White House is quietly trying to work through it, that meme will pop up again.
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:39 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm thrilled, as a shareholder, to finally be able to vote on a non-binding measure limiting executive pay. Combined with a strongly-worded letter sent to the board and the latest results from my Facebook poll ("Does boss get 2 muhc $$?!?", currently 83% in favor), we can finally reign in these excessive bonuses and golden parachutes.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:40 PM on July 21, 2010 [23 favorites]


Remember when there was a meme about Obama not doing anything? Yeah that was less than a year ago.

Pff. Try right now and right up to the very second he leaves office, with a big spike in November to ensure defeat in the midterms. Every positive will be minimized and every negative emphasized. Obama will be portrayed as being simultaneously not doing anything at all and being worse than Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot rolled into one.

And that's just Liberals and Democrats, I imagine the Republicans will be saying some nasty things too.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on July 21, 2010 [23 favorites]


This is all good, right? Not like HCR, where the country takes one step (more-or-less) forward but then quickly turns and sucker punches Woman's rights or something to make up for it, right?
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 3:42 PM on July 21, 2010


President Obama as accomplished more in 2 years than past presidents have in 2 terms.

His will surely go done as the most successful failed Presidency in our history.
posted by Mick at 3:43 PM on July 21, 2010 [35 favorites]


Yeah, but other than not going after medicinal marijuana users, and a health care bill that (while not perfect) is more than any other president has made happen, and this new financial reform bill, and about fifty other things that wouldn't have happened under McCain/Palin, what ELSE has Obama done?

Man, as liberal as I am, I now wish I'd voted for McCain/Palin so we wouldn't have health care or financial reform and so medicinal marijuana users would still be fed targets. Things would be so much better now.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:43 PM on July 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


*down
posted by Mick at 3:43 PM on July 21, 2010


The "piece-by-piece guide" is especially important. I'm really psyched about this, and hope it sets an example for others.
A council of regulators will identify threats to the system. The Treasury secretary will lead the council.

One potential threat: Big, interconnected financial companies. The council will have authority to review both banks and nonbank companies, such as insurers and credit unions, that haven't faced bank-style regulation, to see if they could threaten the system. All such companies must meet tougher standards. For example, their use of borrowed money will be limited. Fuller disclosures, onsite supervision by Federal Reserve regulators and stiffer accounting rules will apply, too.

Derivatives for the first time will also trade through clearinghouses. These intermediaries settle trades and are on the hook if the owner can't pay off its derivatives contracts. Clearinghouses will require derivatives sellers to set aside money for each contract in case their bets go bad.

A new agency will oversee consumer products and services, from mortgages to check cashing. It will regulate many nonbank companies, such as payday lenders. Before the crisis, no regulator with financial expertise oversaw the most reckless mortgage lenders.

The regulator will police companies that dominate consumer finance, such as credit card companies and the biggest banks. The agency will write rules and ban products it deems unsafe, such as mortgages that require payment of interest only. It can ban confusing language in documents. And the agency can punish companies that don't comply.
This is just part of it, and the article admits that there are still gaps needed to be filled in many areas, but still. This is a great step in the right direction.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:45 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joey Michaels, in documenting the failures of this administration you also omitted the failures of credit card reform, student loan reform, reducing (if not outright ending) our presence in Iraq, the Lilly Ledbetter Act re: equal pay for equal work, the nomination of not one but two sane Supreme Court justices, and a domestic auto bailout that literally saved the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people (if not more). What a failure. I am voting for President Palin in 2012.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:48 PM on July 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


... still waiting for my free magical pony, however. PALIN/BACHMANN 2012!
posted by joe lisboa at 3:50 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


* hundreds of thousands, my typo.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:52 PM on July 21, 2010


They're gonna regulate payday lenders? That, by itself, is a big big positive thing.
posted by oddman at 3:53 PM on July 21, 2010 [23 favorites]


The moon remains undestroyed as well.
posted by Artw at 3:53 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The moon remains undestroyed as well.

Heh. Where do you think the Kenyan birth certificate is stored? Exactly. Goodnight, moon.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:55 PM on July 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


They're gonna regulate payday lenders? That, by itself, is a big big positive thing.

Oh wow, yeah, that is HUGE and I'm really, really pleased about that. There are other good things, but wow, that's super awesome.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:57 PM on July 21, 2010


Goodnight illegal immigrant auntie eating a bowl full of mush, goodnight secret serviceman whispering hush...
posted by Artw at 3:57 PM on July 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


joe lisboa, upthread: While the poutrageous left (mainly via blogs) sucked all of the media oxygen up on the Ag Dept faux scandal and played right into the hands of the Right, the Prez was busy getting shit done.

Really? First of all, you're presumably aware that this signing ceremony is... a ceremony, the actual bill was signed by congress days ago, and for several weeks before that had been mainly procedural wrangling and horse-trading for a couple of republican votes. You know that, right? And so any grassroots / netroots support, congress-person browbeating, and other things that "poutrageous" bloggers could have done was months in the past, right? I don't know exactly what you're suggesting liberals and bloggers should have been doing w/r/t financial reform in the last 2-3 days.

Furthermore, the "Ag Dept faux scandal" you refer to is presumably the Shirley Sherrod ambush by Andrew Breitbart where she was forced to resign yesterday. You may also have heard that, due in no small part to the online "poutrage", she has been offered her job back and everyone across the political spectrum is condemning Breitbart for his BS (except the tea partiers, of course). Sounds like pretty effective liberal / blogger advocacy to me.

So what's your deal? Do you just reflexively punch hippies whenever the administration gets something done? Thanks for your insightful contribution.
posted by rkent at 4:04 PM on July 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Obama is a pragmatic politician. The reason he gets dragged through the mud by both sides is because he is willing to compromise, which is not acceptable in our partisan political atmosphere. The days of coming to a consensus to solve problems, with input from all sides, has warped into political kickbacks and secretive vote exchanges. Either that, or due to all of the independent journalism today, we are finally seeing how the sausage is made.

Anyway, if you haven't already read The Big Short by Michael Lewis, do it now. It's an even, compelling, and straightforward story about how fucked up Wall Street really is.
posted by atypicalguy at 4:09 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you just reflexively punch hippies whenever the administration gets something done?

Joe's punching of hippies is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand and I, for one, am tired of hearing people harping on it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:11 PM on July 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


I kind of see the reflexive punching of hippies whenever the administration gets something done as a good thing.
posted by Artw at 4:12 PM on July 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Awful lot of straw in the air here.
posted by kipmanley at 4:12 PM on July 21, 2010


Although the bill does permit a 10 buck minimum on card purchases...

What will I do without my morning righteous indignation at the corner store?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:14 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Artw: "The moon remains undestroyed as well."

OBA
posted by griphus at 4:15 PM on July 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


This is but one more in a helluva series of legislative accomplishments

Sure is. Mandatory healthcare (aka tax) and now more power to the Federal Reserve.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:15 PM on July 21, 2010


Sounds like pretty effective liberal / blogger advocacy to me.

No. What your whining accomplished was to help establish a media environment wherein the de facto villain was not the actual villain (Breitbart, obviously) but the Administration. This is not hippie punching. This is a question of tactics. Scour the web and cable today and you will rarely see Breitbart mentioned by name so much as the meme that the Administration acted too soon (while they never acted to begin with, inconvenient truths aside). In the relevant thread on this matter I bowed out after suggesting that we should judge their response in light of having uncovered the facts on the ground. And, lo and behold, with the truth available to all, we get Vilsack (hat in hand) and the WH DIRECTLY APOLOGIZING to the wronged employee. And, lo and behold, folks of your ilk will give no quarter (heh). I continue to insist the hyperbolic criticisms from the left (ON THE EVE OF THE VERY LIBERAL LEGISLATIVE VICTORIES THIS THREAD OSTENSIBLY ADDRESSES) merely contributed to the story-of-the-day takeover the GOP just so effectively (and pathetically, in many respects) pulled on you all. I am sorry if this comes across as condescending or anything like, I just rue the fact that we are busy fighting amongst ourselves in an-all-too-much GOP frame. That means they won this cycle because of our assist. I am just frustrated, as I imagine you are too.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:17 PM on July 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Go ahead and bookmark this comment: This will be the first thing dismantled by our next Republican congress and president.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:17 PM on July 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


And I usually detest speaking in terms of having won or lost cycles. I know that is (generally) short-sighted.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:17 PM on July 21, 2010


GOOGLE THESCIENTIFICMETHHEAD
posted by joe lisboa at 4:19 PM on July 21, 2010


Anyway, if you haven't already read The Big Short by Michael Lewis, do it now. It's an even, compelling, and straightforward story about how fucked up Wall Street really is.

Seconded, I thought it was an approachable and entertaining but still substantive chronicle of how the whole subprime mess was built up and then imploded.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:21 PM on July 21, 2010


This will be the first thing dismantled by our next Republican congress and president.

I'm not seeing a Republican Congress or president in the next term of either, but should it happen, yeah, this is going to be Carter's solar panels.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:21 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although the bill does permit a 10 buck minimum on card purchases...

Even more awesomeness! Does this mean people will stop paying for their 2 dollar coffee with a credit card, slowing the line down to a frigging crawl?
posted by aspo at 4:23 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Punch those hippies, MeFi. Punch them to win!
posted by DU at 4:24 PM on July 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Even more awesomeness! Does this mean people will stop paying for their 2 dollar coffee with a credit card, slowing the line down to a frigging crawl?

No, it means they're going to get a muffin and a Red Bull for later because they didn't bring any cash with them and goddammit that shit they brew in the office would make a CHUD hurl.
posted by griphus at 4:27 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ruh roh, scooby:

RNC failed to report $3 million in debt; treasurer accuses Steele of obstruction
[WashPo 7/21/10]

I'd be surprised if the GOP can pull together a ticket in time to build enough unified support to have a real chance given the stat they're in, but I'm confident it's going to be a very nasty election either way.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:27 PM on July 21, 2010


Access to Your Credit Score: Consumers will now have free access to their credit score, if their score negatively affects them in a financial transaction or a hiring decision.

Why free access only in special cases? I want financial reform to end the credit score racket.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 4:28 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why free access only in special cases? I want financial reform to end the credit score racket.

I do too, CJP. But as someone who has been on the receiving end of a credit denial with nary an explanation and employers now essentially encouraged to use credit scores in hiring decisions (!), I appreciate this important first step. How are people to find gainful employment to improve their credit scores if poor credit scores are used to justify employment decisions?
posted by joe lisboa at 4:32 PM on July 21, 2010


Surely Joe's not punching hippies, cuz that would be like pissing on homeless people.
posted by snsranch at 4:33 PM on July 21, 2010


Pics or it did not happen, snsranch. Actually, scratch that.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:34 PM on July 21, 2010


Punch those hippies, MeFi. Punch them to win!

*sigh*
posted by hippybear at 4:35 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Doubtful it will be dismantled soon. History has shown a up and down wave of regulation and deregulation of the financial industry. We are in a new regulatory phase. It's sort of a dialectic swinging back and forth between pessimism and optimism. The current pessimism phase has a while to play out before optimism about the economy is strong enough to remove regulation again.
posted by stbalbach at 4:35 PM on July 21, 2010


Does this mean people will stop paying for their 2 dollar coffee with a credit card, slowing the line down to a frigging crawl?

What? If the place has one of those credit card pad things like most stores, it's faster than cash IMO. You don't even have to sign at most places for small transactions now.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:37 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm confident that no compromise was necessary for Obama to assume the authority to kill U.S.citizens without charges arrest or trial.
posted by wrapper at 4:40 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




atypicalguy: "Anyway, if you haven't already read The Big Short by Michael Lewis, do it now."

Funny, I just turned in Liar's Poker and put my name on the hold queue for The Big Short:

"Your position in the holds queue: 112 of 112".

This sounds huge for a book that's been out for months. The good news is that further investigation reveals there are 32 copies checked out and 13 in transit to holds, for an estimated wait of 2 days for the 113th person. This appears to be one very popular book; I didn't realize the public library would procure several dozen copies of a book like that. I guess they sell them off when the queue empties.
posted by pwnguin at 4:42 PM on July 21, 2010


jkent

I'm not sure if you're American or not but bills aren't signed by the legislature here, they're signed by the President, sometimes in a signing ceremony, and thus become law.
posted by sfts2 at 4:43 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


... cannot believe I forgot extension of unemployment benefits, which (in a place like SE Michigan) is a bigger deal than maybe some can grasp.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:47 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm also bummed that I can't get my 'Keep the change' on $2 debit card transactions.
posted by sfts2 at 4:47 PM on July 21, 2010


yeah. i don't have a lot of confidence in "Triumph of Policy Over Politics." i'll be curious to see which lamb was sacrificed at the altar of big money.
posted by msconduct at 4:47 PM on July 21, 2010


"Your position in the holds queue: 112 of 112".

I just did the same in the Seattle public library. 556 holds on 94 copies! I might have better luck just getting the audiobook...
posted by heathkit at 4:49 PM on July 21, 2010


... more power to the Federal Reserve

Considering that power is being transferred to the Fed from private "too big to fail" companies that love to privatize profits while socializing risk, good for the Fed ... and us.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:49 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


i'll be curious to see which lamb was sacrificed at the altar of big money.

All of them.
posted by Max Power at 4:49 PM on July 21, 2010


bills aren't signed by the legislature here, they're signed by the President, sometimes in a signing ceremony, and thus become law.

And the President can outright refuse to sign it (veto), or he can just delay signing it indefinitely (pocket veto)... but nothing becomes law until the head of the Executive branch grants approval.

Checks and balances -- gotta love 'em.
posted by hippybear at 4:49 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


good for the Fed ... and us.

The Fed is run by them , not us.
posted by Max Power at 4:50 PM on July 21, 2010


"The moon remains undestroyed as well."

OBA


Well played.
posted by sourwookie at 4:54 PM on July 21, 2010


I agree with alotta of what Joe Lisboa sez; it's the use of 'poutrage' that makes me back away slowly from the computer.
posted by angrycat at 4:55 PM on July 21, 2010


Really? First of all, you're presumably aware that this signing ceremony is... a ceremony, the actual bill was signed by congress days ago, and for several weeks before that had been main

Dear god! Do you people care about facts and reality at all? Congress does not "sign" bills into law, they pass bills! The President alone has the power to sign a bill into law or to veto it! It's not just a fucking ceremony, it's the formal last step in enacting a law. What, did you miss that episode os School House Rock or something? I mean, dear god. I've seen a lot of dumb comments in my day but this... Screw it. This is too big a day. I'm not gonna let it get me down.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:57 PM on July 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


My bad, angrycat. My keyboard is dying a slow painful death and I am losing quotation mark keys left and right, so I have to resort to ugly portmanteaus sometimes. I will cease to pull the poutrage thing if that undercuts what I am trying to communicate. Thanks for the heads-up.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:58 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd prefer reinstatement of Glass-Steagall myself but this bill is not bad.

My thoughts exactly. This bill is good, it's a step up from zero, but doesn't go nearly far enough. The repeal of Glass-Steagall was the source of the problems we have now, and I think it's safe to say that reinstating it will be the cure we need.
posted by zardoz at 4:59 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


i don't have a lot of confidence in "Triumph of Policy Over Politics."

Me too, but mostly because I didn't realize policy and politics were separate things at odds with each other.
posted by Kirk Grim at 5:00 PM on July 21, 2010


My grandfather sent me the cutest email forward about this: GRAR RARG SNORT GRAR SOCIALISM.

Sorry for the copypasta. I cut out some of the IMPEACH THE KENYAN and HE'S GONNA TAKE OUR GUNS, BUT I WON'T LET HIM paragraphs.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:01 PM on July 21, 2010


Considering that power is being transferred to the Fed from private "too big to fail" companies that love to privatize profits while socializing risk, good for the Fed ... and us.

That's not true — it's being transferred from the Office of Thrift Supervision, which, while not exactly a model of regulatory excellence these last couple decades, was at least not designed explicitly to be unaccountable to the other branches like the Fed with its chairman's 14-year term and its ability to fund itself through its operations without Congressional appropriations. And while there may have been some regulatory capture with the OTS, a majority of members of regional Fed boards are actually chosen by private banks, so ... I don't really think this is so good for us. Just because a bunch of right-wing nutjobs hate the Fed doesn't mean it's not an unaccountable instrument of elite interests.
posted by enn at 5:01 PM on July 21, 2010


Seven steps forward. Fifteen steps back to be doled out intermittently over the next decade or two.
posted by fleacircus at 5:04 PM on July 21, 2010


Considering that power is being transferred to the Fed from private "too big to fail" companies that love to privatize profits while socializing risk, good for the Fed ... and us.

part of "too big to fail" is "too big to regulate"... and now the same people (the Fed) who weren't able to regulate the octopus of interconnected financial players and deals will now have another go at it.

as far as I can tell what this legislation does is to make permanent the authorities and powers in the federal reserve and the treasury that made TARP possible. it is founded on the unshakeable conviction that there are no structural problems with the finanicial system as it stands and that band aids to the regulatory system will serve to keep the players from going to the casino again.

but at the same time, congress didn't make too many hard regulatory choices, leaving those to the regulators themselves. This is why the controversy over Elizabeth Warren is so important, it's clear who Geithner serves in his capacity as treasury secr.

So, in a very real sense the success of this legistlation depended upon the conviction on Wall Street that the federal government will rescue the big players if everything goes to shit again (TARP II anyone?) and that new regulation will be subject to capture within the Fed by said big players.

ask yourself: how will this legislation help us unwind CitiBank , if it came to it, and I think the answer is AIG part II, only now they don't have to make up the legal framework as they go along.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:05 PM on July 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


My grandfather sent me the cutest email forward about this: GRAR RARG SNORT GRAR SOCIALISM

Heh. When I was out at lunch, I noticed the crawl on CNN: "Wall Street Reform: Will There Be a Backlash Against More Big Government?"
posted by scody at 5:08 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's what kills me: a Democratic congress passed a law that will help prevent future bailouts and the Democrats are going to lose seats in Congress this year because the voters don't like bailouts.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:10 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Even more awesomeness! Does this mean people will stop paying for their 2 dollar coffee with a credit card, slowing the line down to a frigging crawl?

It probably means people will pay by writing out a check. :)

Presumably though, you have no sales tax, or stores in your area are sensible enough to include their taxes in the price of the goods. In states with sales tax and idiot stores that don't label their goods with the price it costs to take it out of the store, it's faster when people pay by card - a swipe and it's done. No opening of the till and counting out change because the hidden addition of sales tax produces a weird-ass total.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:13 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this anti-leftist bullshit here on Metafilter. I've been a critic of Obama, not for any of the stupid strawman shit mentioned upthread, but for stuff like his endorsement of assassinations or indefinite detention with no habeus corpus. I don't see how disagreeing with him for that, and criticizing his blatant back-peddling on campaign promises is so out of line. Someone tell me when it's okay to disagree with Democrats. Not right before an election, or the republicans will win. Not right after, because they haven't had time to do anything yet. Not a year or so later either, because ... I guess it hurts people's feelings or something. Also, now there's an election in just another year, so it's practically right before an election!

Just for the record, I'm okay with this bill. I don't think it's going to be nearly as big as the headlines suggest. It sounds like a lot of stuff is up to executive branch discretion. I'm not familiar with the details so much, it seems really complicated. Any system where there are banks too big to fail, seems to me that there's likely to be regulatory capture, but it sounds like there are a few really good components tucked into the bill, more than most people thought would make it through. So yay.
posted by Humanzee at 5:22 PM on July 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


Interesting piece on Joe Biden in last weekend's FT, noting that he considered the health care initiative ill timed and the 30,000 new troops in Afghanistan ill advised.

Not that anyone gave a crap what he thinks.

As to the bill, well, bills get written by lobbyists and staffers and such. 2319 pages leaves room for a lot of mischief. Cynical me says best to try to decipher it before cheering or booing.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:23 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


wait, why hadn't I heard about this bill before now? Why the FUCK wasn't Fox News telling me about how this bill was going to kill my grand parents every day?!
posted by shmegegge at 5:39 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, pardon me for misspeaking, I understand the relative duties of the legislature and the executive when it comes to passing laws. My point remains that there was little for bloggers and activists to do to support the financial regulation bill between passage and signing, leaving them free to address other topics without harming it.
posted by rkent at 5:40 PM on July 21, 2010




Also for the record, since we never had an FPP about it, DADT was repealed. Yes, it's still the Pentagon's policy for another few months (until their review is complete), buy it's no longer enshrined in law. That's also worth some props.

As for leftist hate, I have no idea what you mean. I'm a leftist, and I haven't noticed it. I have noticed that MeFi tends not to suffer fools though.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:44 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Humanzee: "I've been a critic of Obama, not for any of the stupid strawman shit mentioned upthread, but for stuff like his endorsement of assassinations [of American citizens]..."

A relevant detail, surely.

Yes, I would have to call his proclamation of the right to kill me as one of my disappointments in his administration.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:54 PM on July 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


My point remains that there was little for bloggers and activists to do to support the financial regulation bill between passage and signing, leaving them free to address other topics without harming it.

Downplay the important work being done and emphasize the embarrassment. Good work, guys!
posted by fleacircus at 6:04 PM on July 21, 2010


The oligarchy will not be televised.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 6:06 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also for the record, since we never had an FPP about it, DADT was repealed. Yes, it's still the Pentagon's policy for another few months (until their review is complete), buy it's no longer enshrined in law. That's also worth some props.

... why am I hearing about this now, for the first time? You'd think that'd have been more widespread news.
posted by kafziel at 6:07 PM on July 21, 2010


What about Bonnie and Clyde or Jesse James? Were the orders for their capture, dead or alive, the equivalent of US marshall's granting themselves the right to assassination you? Law enforcement agents in the US have always had the authority to kill, if necessary, when apprehending dangerous fugitives. I still haven't seen a single cogent explanation for how the capture or kill order the admin signed was anything more than SOP, except for the press describing it as an "assassination order" (which to be fair was their interpretation only--the damn thing wasn't called an assassination order).
posted by saulgoodman at 6:07 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


DADT has not been repealed and nothing in the conditional repeal says that it must be. (link) Gay men and women continue to be discharged and will until actual repeal.
posted by Craig at 6:09 PM on July 21, 2010


saulgoodman:
As for leftist hate, I have no idea what you mean. I'm a leftist, and I haven't noticed it.
Are you kidding? Every thread even tangentially related to Obama turns into strawman circus, wherein there is a race to condemn the loony left who've criticized Obama in the past, before they even show up:
1, 2, 3, 4

I have noticed that MeFi tends not to suffer fools though.
Nice.

Joe Beese::
A relevant detail, surely.
You're right, I guess what I wrote was kind of vague.

saulgoodman
I still haven't seen a single cogent explanation for how the capture or kill order the admin signed was anything more than SOP
There's no warrant, no process outside the executive branch, the process and evidence is generally classified, no way to appeal, no attempt to capture. It's not: "we're going to arrest you, but if you fight back we'll use deadly force." It's, "we're going to come kill you." I always thought of the old "dead or alive" days as a time when there was little distinction between lawmen and the criminals they were going after, and I'm generally happy that they're over. Also, the assassinations often come in the form of drone attacks, which even when successful, usually kill many bystanders.
posted by Humanzee at 6:14 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't see any inconsistency between these two points:

1) Obama has accomplished a great deal since he was elected. He's improved things in ways I could never have hoped possible, and I'm very glad to have voted for him.

2) Obama has not reversed the worst excesses of the Bush administration, and has exacerbated some of them. Some of the policies he supports are so monstrous as to be simply unforgivable.
posted by moss at 6:16 PM on July 21, 2010 [22 favorites]


Well, shit. Now I'm the one who's full of it. The senate still hasn't passed the defense reauthorization bill that includes the repeal, apparently. But the deal is done. It would take 60 votes to strip the amendment from the bill, and the bill is one that has to pass. It has all but been repealed--but the pentagon still has to change its policy, too, once the law is officially off the books. It's a done deal now, though. (This is what I get for being mouthy.)
posted by saulgoodman at 6:19 PM on July 21, 2010


I apologize for my snarky tone. The pundits and spinners are in some respects at the mercy of the media, and if the media decides story X is huge while story Y is not, to some degree the culture warriors do have to dance to that stupid, stupid tune. I'm just saying the Dems always seem to be Mahut trying to break Isner's serve to get on top, gnome seine?

And I do wish that everything, everything that happens politically now didn't spark a referendum on Obama.
posted by fleacircus at 6:22 PM on July 21, 2010


I don't see how disagreeing with him for that, and criticizing his blatant back-peddling on campaign promises is so out of line.

Conservatives aren't the only ones who can suffer from epistemic closure. I hope we don't see an echo of the Dubya-worship of 2000-2008 from Obama supporters (it's hilarious how many Tea Partiers just happened to notice all this deficit spending and encroachments on civil liberties when a black guy moved into the White House).

Obama isn't the Messiah. He's a politician, and he needs all those annoying "poutrageous" lefties to keep him fulfilling his promises. Do you think he'd have signed this wonderful bill without pressure on him to do it? There were plenty of Democrats perfectly willing to water it down.
posted by jhandey at 6:24 PM on July 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not: "we're going to arrest you, but if you fight back we'll use deadly force." It's, "we're going to come kill you." I always thought of the old "dead or alive" days

But see, this is why I have such a hard time taking these criticisms seriously. Did you ever take the time to read the order? I did. It actually did say exactly what you're saying it didn't: it called for the guy to be captured or, if necessary, killed. It only ordered that he be killed in the event he couldn't safely be captured alive.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:27 PM on July 21, 2010


I have never believed Obama to be the messiah and I have never believed he could accomplish anything alone. That's why I don't expect him to magically pull congressional votes out his ass through sheer force of will and why I always say we share in the responsibility for making truly progressive reforms happen. If I had expected him to be the messiah, I'd probably be as bitter as some others around here are. As it is, I think he's accomplished a lot for being a single ordinary person.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:34 PM on July 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


he needs all those annoying "poutrageous" lefties to keep him fulfilling his promises. Do you think he'd have signed this wonderful bill without pressure on him to do it? There were plenty of Democrats perfectly willing to water it down.

I suspect you are politically and / or tactically ignorant, but I will defend to the death your right to be so.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:43 PM on July 21, 2010


I was kidding, sorry if that seemed abrasive.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:46 PM on July 21, 2010


Was Biden physically muzzled like Hannibal Lecter this time?
posted by mecran01 at 6:49 PM on July 21, 2010


It actually did say exactly what you're saying it didn't: it called for the guy to be captured or, if necessary, killed. It only ordered that he be killed in the event he couldn't safely be captured alive.

You don't think that's overly optimistic. "Couldn't be safely captured alive" is the same as the orders that police may only use a taser when they have no other alternative but deadly force.

Everyone knows what really happens.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:58 PM on July 21, 2010


I didn't read the order, I haven't seen it linked anywhere. If you have a link, I'll look it over. Looking over the news articles covering the order, I see that capture is included. I either didn't catch that the first go through, or forgot about it, so my mistake. It doesn't change much though, because when capturing someone, everyone knows that cops and/or soldiers can shoot if they feel their life is in danger. Specifically giving permission to kill only makes sense as a planned killing, as in, they're not coming to arrest you, they're coming to kill you.

And just on principle, I don't like the government reserving the right to assassinate its citizens. I think the danger any one guy may pose is much less than the danger that assassination poses. I would feel better if there was some sort of oversight outside the executive branch. And no, I don't think they're coming for me, nor do I think that Awlaki is some really swell guy.

I don't feel bitter about Obama, at least in the context of alternatives. I think I had a pretty realistic idea of what he was like before I voted for him. Generally I disagree with him for the things he does not for the things he fails to do. That said, it pisses me off a bit when I read about a bit of good(ish) news, and immediately there's a bunch of comments about the extreme leftists who wish they'd voted for McCain. I don't think Palin will win if I voice disagreement with Obama on some issues. Especially because, for instance, I think she's just fine with no habeus corpus.
posted by Humanzee at 6:59 PM on July 21, 2010


Was Biden physically muzzled like Hannibal Lecter this time?

After Vilsack's performance these past 48 hours I think every major administration figure who's not on an overseas trip to South Korea is gonna be muzzled.
posted by blucevalo at 7:10 PM on July 21, 2010


...and employers now essentially encouraged to use credit scores in hiring decisions...

Whoa, what?
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:49 PM on July 21, 2010


So am I missing something?

What makes this bill fantastic? Or even an acceptable response to the issue?

I don't see Glass-Steagall being put back - why not? Shouldn't it be clear to even the stupidest person how effective this law was for sixty years, how things collapsed when it was repealed?

What prevents Goldman from doing exactly the same things it did, again?

Suppose I create a derivative security and simply don't tell regulators - what, exactly, happens to me? It seems to me that there's no penalty for simply non-reporting...

The SEC and other regulatory agencies have already been shown to be completely ineffective at policing the existing laws. This is because they are dramatically undermanned, and dramatically under-talented, because who would work at the SEC for $60K? How, exactly, are these new additional rules going to be policed without a serious expansion of the SEC and the other agencies? Without more money going to the SEC?

If the government wished to send a message, it could simply enforce the existing laws which have been repeatedly and flagrantly broken. That last fine that Goldman paid should have been associated with multiple jail terms - it's simply impossible that Goldman actually did the things that they did without several higher-level managers knowingly and willingly committing serious felonies.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:58 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not everything we'd hoped for, but a damn sight better than we had.

This, I suspect, will be the way we remember the Obama administration. And I guess that'll have to do.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on July 21, 2010


"It's not everything we'd hoped for, but a damn sight better than we had.

This, I suspect, will be the way we remember the Obama administration. And I guess that'll have to do."

Unfortunately, this will not do.

As I have pointed out numerous times on the blue, if we alternate Democratic and Republican administrations, and we score huge losses when Republicans are in power and small wins when Democrats are in power, we suffer a great loss over time.

This explains why our current Democratic President is to the right of Richard Nixon on pretty well every issue.

I don't believe that Mr. Obama understands this - he doesn't seem to understand at all that there are battles that are important enough to risk losing on.

(I'd also add that it seems like many or most of the good things we have supposedly gotten from Mr. Obama are in fact promises to do something in the future...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:37 PM on July 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, this will not do.

I don't disagree. But the gap between what we (however we define 'we' -- I'm not American, of course) might want and what is actually possible in the world we live in? I have begun to believe that short of a revolution of some kind, the gap just far too wide and the corruption too deep.

Do I advocate just giving up? No. But let's just say that I, at least, am not optimistic.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:57 PM on July 21, 2010


Please, let's stop debating on the basis of our vague feelings about what is/isn't in the bill and take some time to research it and actually find out. From what I've read, There's a slightly less rigid form of the separation between investment banks and deposit banks, as formerly in glass-steagall, and there's a slightly weakened form of the volcker rule as well. Most significantly, the bill creates a completely new consumer protection agency which has rulemaking authority. That means it has broad power to act literally without requiring an act of congress to address some new form of abuse. Also, additional rulemaking authority is established for managing systemic financial risk. Again, that means regulators are empowered to create rules without having to seek additional legislative action, and much of what people have been describing as "watered down" in the legislation was simply left open for regulators to define by rule, so the bill actually goes a lot further than some of you probably realize. As for nothing changing when it comes to winding down "too big to fail" companies, the volcker rule partly addresses this, but more importantly, the legislation gives regulators the authority to take control of institutions that pose systemic risks and impose fees after the fact on the industry to recover the costs of winding the institution down. That's actually kind of a smart way to do it, because it gives incentives to other financial institutions not to encourage excessive risk taking (since it will cost everyone when a large company fails).

Anyway, there's a decent summary here. (Man I hate typing on a handheld.)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:15 PM on July 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




Thanks, Saul, you're always a force for information and clarity! but I guess I already knew quite a bit of this.

What I don't understand is what this new agency can do that, say, the SEC couldn't. The SEC already has pretty serious rule-making abilities that they have definitely used in the past.

There are already government agencies, departments or the like for each area of the financial markets. Banks alone have a gazillion regulatory agencies.

How will creating yet another agency help? And where's the money going to come from?

And I'm frankly very dubious about all these things that would allow regulators to act in the future if they wanted to. If they didn't act already, exactly what sort of financial melt-down would it take to get them moving?

As for the separation of investment banking and taking deposits... I still don't see it.

I've been looking for a clear explanation of so-called Volker lite now that it's passed - here's one for example - so somehow, risks that are taken in one part of the company don't imperil these deposits... how?

And perhaps I'm relying too much on radical sources, but doesn't this rely on internal "Chinese walls" where supposedly different parts of the bank don't talk to each other, Scout's honour?

If so, I mean, who are we fucking kidding here? I used to work with these people, you know...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:30 PM on July 21, 2010


White House: Financial Reform Law Won't Hurt Business that Play by the Rules

well then you're doing it wrong. The finance industry needs to be crushed back down to its pre-collapse size and complexity. If this bill doesn't hurt the industry then it is worthless.

Only a few posts down we see that Wachovia won't be prosecuted despite laundering $380 billion in Mexican drug money, because it is too big to fail. But oh boy, we're gonna get em for selling CDO's - trust us!

The bill makes the SEC more poweful, but what's the point? The SEC declines to use its full powers all the time. The bill provides for greater scrutiny of financial products - but nobody at the SEC could understand the financial instruments that caused the crisis at the time (or probably now):

When I pointed out that the SEC likely didn’t have any PH.D staff with derivatives trading experience who truly understood how these financial instruments worked, because a true derivatives expert couldn’t afford to work for SEC pay, she [SEC NY branch chief Meaghan Cheung] ignored me.

Any reason to think they get them now? Nobody does, that's should just be banned.

Also, I don't see anything in the bill preventing the next 'too-big-to-fail' industry from holding the government hostage to extract billions/trillions the next time this game is played. Where is the "No Good Money After Bad" Bill?

GRAR GRAR
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 4:21 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It actually did say exactly what you're saying it didn't: it called for the guy to be captured or, if necessary, killed. It only ordered that he be killed in the event he couldn't safely be captured alive.
Hahaha. How exactly do you capture someone with a predator drone?

---

As for the bill: bans on proprietary trading are good. The derivative regulation is good, and the consumer protection agency is good. But there's no size penalty to reduce the size of the largest banks. This isn't all that ground breaking and, yeah, it probably would have been worse under McCain/Palin. But there shouldn't be any confusion about the fact that this was watered down.

Another big problem is the fact that they apparently don't want to nominate Elizabeth Warren as the head of the consumer protection agency because they don't want "a big fight" But who could they nominate that wouldn't? Obviously not anyone who actually wants to stand up to the big banks.

In terms of the real economy Obama hasn't really done anything to fight unemployment or fix the economy for everyday people who don't work on wallstreet. And look, I don't want to see the republicans take over in November, but people are going to vote with their pocketbooks and if their impression of the economy is negative then then they are going to vote against incumbents.

You can 'punch hippies' all you want, but that's not going to matter. Bitching about Obama on a message board is not going to cost the democrats control of the house, failure to do anything meaningful for most americans will (and, let's be clear most of the HCR reforms take years to phase in, so any benefits won't be apparent until after the election. And the reason for this is that they wanted to make the "10-year" cost projections low, so they delayed implementation of a lot of the features)

Hopefully they'll get immigration reform handled, which should really boost numbers in November, by mobilizing Hispanic voters.

But look, the idea that left-wing Obama critics are rooting for republicans is just stupid. We want the republicans to stay out of power. But we're mad at Obama because he's fucking up.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 AM on July 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obama is a pragmatic politician. The reason he gets dragged through the mud by both sides is because he is willing to compromise, which is not acceptable in our partisan political atmosphere.

This is a guy who first appeared on the national stage and eventually became president because of a speech where he said, "there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:26 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand is what this new agency can do that, say, the SEC couldn't. The SEC already has pretty serious rule-making abilities that they have definitely used in the past.

Fair enough, but I think the key difference is that the legislation opens up whole new areas of rule-making authority, and grants the newly created Financial Stability Oversight council the power to create still more rules specifically intended to prevent firms from becoming too big to fail.

It also provides to regulators, for the first time, the authority to regulate non-bank financial institutions in the same way as banks, if these institutions are large and complex enough to pose a systemic risk to the economy (on a vote of the Financial Oversight council).

But there's no size penalty to reduce the size of the largest banks.

The bill authorizes regulators to impose significantly higher capital requirements and limits on leverage for institutions as they grow bigger. That's the penalty: As a financial company gets bigger, it will have to satisfy more stringent requirements to prove it can cover its obligations.

I think if there's one major weakness in the legislation, it's that it all comes down to how effectively it's implemented. The new grants of authority it provides, the new regulatory bodies it creates, can only do the job if they're run effectively. Now, obviously, that's where things get murky. But that's always true!

And look, the act now establishes the following new regulatory bodies that are specifically tasked with addressing systemic risk and other problem areas in the financial system:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Will write consumer protection rules for banks and nonbank financial firms offering consumers financial services or products and ensure that consumers are protected from “unfair, deceptive, or abusive” acts or practices.

Federal Insurance Office
Will monitor all aspects of the insurance agency and identify issues or gaps in regulation that could lead to systemic risk. Based upon its findings, the FIO will make recommendations to the FSOC regarding insurance institutions that pose a systemic risk and should be subject to greater regulatory oversight.

Financial Stability Oversight Council
Will identify risks and emerging threats to the financial stability of the United States arising from large bank holding companies and systemically important nonbank financial companies and respond with appropriate regulation to reduce the risk from their size and activities.

Office of Financial Research
Will have the power to subpoena financial information from institutions under the supervision of the Fed. The OFR may require periodic and other reports from any nonbank financial company or bank holding companies. [This entity is also charged with performing research and analysis into the financial markets generally, to identify practices that may pose systemic risk]
As the site where I found the above summaries notes, it all comes down to the implementation of the act. The act itself provides enough regulatory authority to do much more, or much less, than advertised.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:49 AM on July 22, 2010


Another big problem is the fact that they apparently don't want to nominate Elizabeth Warren as the head of the consumer protection agency because they don't want "a big fight" But who could they nominate that wouldn't? Obviously not anyone who actually wants to stand up to the big banks.

I haven't seen anything to support that claim other than an article on TPM that mentions reservations certain legislators aired about Warren's confirmability; meanwhile, a White House spokesperson has gone on record contradicting that account of events, and saying that the White House does view Warren as confirmable:
Brady Dennis covers the controversy over Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today, noting that she is a short-list candidate for the job, along with Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr and deputy Attorney General Eugene Kimmelman, a former official at Consumers Union, Public Citizen and the Consumer Federation of America. The one new piece of information in the article is White House spokesman Jen Psaki contradicting Chris Dodd and saying that Warren would be confirmable:

The White House has been careful to leave its options open, even as officials have expressed faith both in Warren’s qualifications and her ability to win Senate approval.

“While there are a number of strong choices under consideration for this position, Elizabeth Warren is a champion for consumers and middle-class families, and we are confident she is confirmable,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
I'm actually pretty disappointed in how TPM initially reported this. It seems like an extremely misleading characterization of the circumstances, especially considering the fact that the President has the authority to appoint Warren to be the first interim head of the agency without even requiring congressional confirmation.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:59 AM on July 22, 2010


Ugh, you mean I have to carry cash now? Cash leads to change, and no one wants that. (Coinage, not progress.)

Can we also have an end to pre-employment credit checks? Seriously, if I'm not receiving credit from you (in terms of a loan), my credit (or lack thereof) is none of your business.
posted by Eideteker at 9:17 AM on July 22, 2010


Ugh, you mean I have to carry cash now? Cash leads to change, and no one wants that.

Huh, and here I prefer to carry cash. Makes it easier to spend less money.
posted by davejay at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2010


What I don't understand is what this new agency can do that, say, the SEC couldn't.

I hear they're going to have a whole "Don't Watch Porn While You Let the Economy Crash, Asshole" policy added to the employee handbook, for one.
posted by scody at 9:40 AM on July 22, 2010


Ugh, you mean I have to carry cash now? Cash leads to change, and no one wants that.

I may be misunderstanding the issue, but I don't think this is going to set a national minimum charge enforced at every retailer nationwide. I think it is just going to make it a legal option for retailers (many of whom are currently doing it illegally). Like the little ice cream shop that says "minimum $5 if paying with credit" is currently in violation of their agreement with the PCI, but now will be legal to enforce their rule.

But I haven't read the actual bill, just the commentary on it. Anyone read the thing?
posted by jermsplan at 10:01 AM on July 22, 2010


Do you just reflexively punch hippies whenever -

Whoa! Stop right there. Yes.
posted by rush at 10:19 AM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


hippybear And the President can outright refuse to sign it (veto), or he can just delay signing it indefinitely (pocket veto)... but nothing becomes law until the head of the Executive branch grants approval.

That's not how either of those work. A veto isn't simply "not signing" a bill. It is an actual thing the President must do. A bill that is passed becomes law is 10 days if the president just refuses to sign it. He must veto it to actually send it back to Congress for an override attempt. This lets a president show his lack of support for a bill that he nonetheless thinks a veto will be overridden or will be too politically costly.

A pocket veto only works in a specific time frame. If the Congressional session ends before the President signs it, it does not become law, and Congress must pass the bill over again next session. Naturally this can only be done when there is less than 10 days left in the session. Any time before this will just result in a law without the president's approval.
posted by spaltavian at 10:55 AM on July 22, 2010


Considering that power is being transferred to the Fed from private "too big to fail" companies that love to privatize profits while socializing risk, good for the Fed ... and us.

The Federal Reserve or "Fed" is private, not federal. Oh, I mean, excuse me while I reattach my tinfoil hat.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:38 AM on July 22, 2010


Slate: Is the Federal Reserve public or private?

"Still, the Fed is rightly classified as an independent central bank. Neither the executive branch nor the legislature gets a direct say in its decision-making, and it pays for its own operations (primarily by acquiring U.S. government securities on the open market). In short, the Fed is an independent entity within the government."
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2010


From page 17 of the New York Fed's comic book "Guide to Inflation":

"The Fed is self-financing; the interest it earns on the U.S. government securities it owns provides the income needed to carry out its duties."

The comic panel depicts an illustration of Uncle Sam handing a check to a man in a black jacket with "FED" embroidered on the back.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:48 AM on July 22, 2010




"Still, the Fed is rightly classified as an independent central bank. Neither the executive branch nor the legislature gets a direct say in its decision-making, and it pays for its own operations (primarily by acquiring U.S. government securities on the open market). In short, the Fed is an independent entity within the government."

Well, the reform actually provides one of the first ever checks on the Federal Reserve's authority, by providing for a mandatory one-time audit of the Federal Reserve--the first audit in the Fed's 97 year history--and granting authority to conduct additional audits in the future as needed. PolitiFact writes:
An audit for the Fed. Owners of the "Audit the Fed" shirts might like this one. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) will perform a one-time review of Federal Reserve emergency lending. The details should be on the Federal Reserve website by December 1, 2010. The GAO will have the authority to conduct more audits in the future, but there is no requirement.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:09 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Obama is a pragmatic politician. The reason he gets dragged through the mud by both sides is because he is willing to compromise, which is not acceptable in our partisan political atmosphere."
This is a guy who first appeared on the national stage and eventually became president because of a speech where he said, "there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America."
bla bla bla. The problem with arguing that whatever Obama is doing is "pragmatic" is that it's totally vaccuous. I mean, there's nothing that can't be excused as being the "pragmatic" choice. It's meaningless. Especially because it's so often used to mean politically pragmatic, rather then simply pragmatic in a policy sense. The public option, for example, would have reduced the cost the healthcare bill. There were no policy downsides. But it was dropped, and the excuse was 'pragmatism'. But how was it pragmatic?

Real policy pragmatism can obviously be measured and evaluated based on real science and econometrics. But political pragmatism can only be measured in terms of how people imagine other people imagine things. Which obviousy isn't in any way emperical.
I hear they're going to have a whole "Don't Watch Porn While You Let the Economy Crash, Asshole" policy added to the employee handbook, for one.
How exactly would watching porn, as opposed to, say, reading Metafilter during work going to have a greater negative impact on your job performance? Almost all high level knowlege workers surf the web during work, there's no reason to be puritanical.

---

With regard to the Fed's independence, it's important to understand that the president of the United states is in charge of appointing the Fed Chairman and the entire board of governors, and they have to re-appoint them as well. So of course the executive branch has a lot of practical sway over the fed. Obama can just appoint people who he thinks will do what he wants, and not re-appoint them if they don't.
posted by delmoi at 8:25 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]




> How exactly would watching porn, as opposed to, say, reading Metafilter during work going to have a greater negative impact on your job performance? Almost all high level knowlege workers surf the web during work, there's no reason to be puritanical.

Um, perhaps you didn't follow this story?
One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices.

An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

Another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

In one case, the report said, an employee tried hundreds of times to access pornographic sites and was denied access [more horrors at URL]
Are you trying to claim that behaviours like this, behaviours that were going on while the very companies the SEC was supposed to be regulating were destroying our economy, don't have a serious negative impact on your performance? Am I "puritanical" because I think these people are the scum of the earth?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:33 PM on July 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The public option, for example, would have reduced the cost the healthcare bill. There were no policy downsides. But it was dropped, and the excuse was 'pragmatism'. But how was it pragmatic?

Well, you have to account for the role others play in the process, too. If the president is getting pressure from his leadership in the house and senate to take a particular tack, he's going to be largely at their mercy, because ultimately, it's the legislative leadership that controls the process that makes it possible to pass legislation. No piece of legislation can possibly make it to the president's desk without the legislature putting in the effort to get it there, and you can't force people to work through an already challenging process at gunpoint and expect the best results. You need buy-in. You need the legislative leadership to care enough to bother trying to advance your agenda, and those ranked below them to respect their leadership enough to contribute. And when one of the parties is determined to do nothing but obstruct even the most routine things you try to do, it's not going to make it easy to maintain the kind of support for any agenda.

Beyond shaming them (fracturing his political coalition and fostering internascene conflict) what can a president do to force the head of a congressional committee to pursue a particular procedural strategy? Sure, the bully-pulpit goes a long way, but ultimately, the congressional leadership controls the process and a president isn't going to get very far in pursuing his/her legislative agenda by not deferring to them in most cases. And President Obama has always been very clear about his view that its the proper role of the representative bodies in the legislature to debate and make law. The role of the executive is to set the agenda, at an executive level, and the role of the legislature is to do the heavy lifting of debating the issues, taking the various interests involved into account, and shaping the final form of the law.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:57 AM on July 23, 2010


It's not clear to me that Obama failed to push hard enough to get the public option. From what I've seen, the evidence is that he didn't want it.

From what I can tell, there's a consensus now that Obama made a secret deal to guarantee that there would be mandates but no public option, in return for the health care industry not campaigning against the bill. Of course the house passed a bill with the public option, and only 50 senators would have been needed to sign off on it in reconciliation, but somehow that didn't happen. I guess the house is working on it again which is actually very surprising to me (and I'm rarely pleasantly surprised).

Now you can argue that we can't really know what's going on --after all, this stuff wasn't exactly "debated on CSPAN", but I don't think you can show evidence that Obama really wanted a public option. What we do know was that he was publicly talking about being open to it after he had privately promised to kill it.
posted by Humanzee at 7:27 AM on July 23, 2010


Oh well, the consensus of Washington pundits has always proven such a valuable guide to reality in the past, so by all means, let's accept it, especially when it's largely based on speculation a number of degrees removed from events.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:17 AM on July 23, 2010


If Obama had truly never wanted to see a Public Option, he wouldn't have made it a prominent feature of the reform proposal he proposed as a candidate. Before even running for office, he said on a number of occasions that in his ideal world we'd have a single payer system, and I believe him. But just because he wants it, that doesn't mean it would be very smart for him to go around acting deluded about the political possibilities of getting it.

Unlike some of his worst critics, I think Obama understands that simply wanting a set of outcomes--even really, really wanting them, and whining and gnashing teeth over it--isn't going to make those outcomes any more likely. Especially when you consider the practical realities of the prevailing Washington ideology, which actually is as center right a culture as Rahm Emmanual imagines all of America is.

I'd remind you that no other major candidate even included a public option in their proposals when the health care debate first got off the ground during the campaign (I don't mean to dismiss Kucinich, but I'm not counting him in that group). Clinton's own health care proposal during the race--and I mean her original proposal, not the revised version she offered up after criticism started to mount from people like me--didn't include a public option from the get-go.

The memory editors have done a pretty thorough and effective job of creating that impression in a good part of the public that her proposal originally did include such a provision, but I was very much engaged in the issues at that time when the campaigning was ongoing, and I pointed out that very omission when the two candidates first unveiled their health care reform plans (in fact, here's a comment I made on Metafilter about it at the time).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:33 AM on July 23, 2010 [1 favorite]




Sorry but Obama's secret, private wishes aren't relevant, and neither are his campaign promises (except insofar as they show him to be a run-of-the-mill politician). What is relevant is what he actually does (like for any of us). And that has been to largely continue the policies of his predecessor, i.e. shovel money at the FIRE industries as much as possible.

By the way, the "pay czar" says it wouldn't be fair to ask for taxpayer money back that was used to pay $1.6 billion in bonuses: "I don't believe it is fair to decide ... that the payments were not contrary to the public interest," Feinberg commented. This would have been "Monday morning quarterbacking," he said.

Aww, po wittle Goldman Sachs. Even better: "The government should not have a hand in clawing back bonuses in the future, according to Feinberg." Oh, well that's good. Wouldn't want to do anything that might discourage the Collapse of 2008-? from happening again now would we?

We wouldn't believe a Republican politician (say, Bush) when they promise X, Y, and Z on the campaign trail. And when they get elected and immediately renege on those promises, that's called lying, not pragmatism.

PS: I'm not trying to be particularly judgmental of Obama, but let's just recognize that what he has done so far (on healthcare, finance, etc.) isn't any different from what any other politician would've done in his shoes.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 11:10 AM on July 23, 2010


Sorry but Obama's secret, private wishes aren't relevant,

They certainly are relevant when offered in response to a specific claim ("From what I've seen, the evidence is that he didn't want it.") about the geniuneness of the president's desire to see a public option.

It's one thing to argue he didn't pursue a political strategy that placed enough emphasis on getting the public option, but more and more frequently I see uncharitable or even insulting claims being made about the man's underlying beliefs, motivations and intentions.

These kinds of claims are often not only unfair and mean-spirited, but often seem the product of the unreflective actor-observer biases of those offering the critiques.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:23 AM on July 23, 2010


No, because his real acts, that he did in real life after winning the Presidency, are better evidence of what his wishes than campaign trail claims. Unless you are saying, that he's special and different from every other politician before him, i.e. that he didn't just say whatever it took to get elected; which strains credulity IMO.

I don't see the relevance of pointing to actor-observer bias; but the example is helpful nonetheless:

Imagine a student who spent hours studying for an exam. Why did she? According to Jones and Nisbett's (1971) hypothesis, the student herself (the "actor") is likely to explain her intensive studying by referring to the upcoming difficult exam whereas other people (the "observers") are likely to explain her studying by referring to her dispositions such as being hardworking or ambitious.


Better to imagine a student who claims to be ambitious, and worried about exams, but in fact does not study once they come up.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 11:44 AM on July 23, 2010


are better evidence of what his wishes than campaign trail claims. Unless you are saying, that he's special and different from every other politician before him, i.e. that he didn't just say whatever it took to get elected; which strains credulity IMO.

They might be if the entirety of the president's history consisted in his time on the campaign trail, but it doesn't. And if you look at the entirety of his actions in context, the evidence is far more compelling in favor of the more charitable interpretation I've suggested.

Look, I can tell you right now, there are lots of things that I have wanted to do over the course of my career as a computer programmer--good design decisions that I desperately wanted to see carried out that for various political or other practical reasons I had to abandon. In my career (and I imagine this is true for almost any career), I've had to learn to recognize fairly quickly when the ideal thing is not going to happen despite my best efforts and intentions due to the intractable practical realities of the situation--at least, if I wanted to have any hope of getting the job done at all. And I doubt you can find anyone who's ever been involved in a major project that involved coordinating the efforts of a significant number of key players with different, competing motivations and agendas, who wouldn't be happy to confirm that experiences similar to mine are universal. As it turned out, the health care reform we got barely managed to achieve enough crossover support from hold-out conservative Democrats to squeak through.

I've seen no basis whatsoever for theories like yours that claim to be able to accurately extract truths about the contents of the president's heart and mind when all the information we have originates in the poisonous political culture of the Washington elite and the third-or-fourth degree removed accounts of the jaded and vapid Washington press core (all of whom have everything to gain from contributing to whatever public impression holds them personally harmless).
posted by saulgoodman at 12:09 PM on July 23, 2010


No, because his real acts, that he did in real life after winning the Presidency, are better evidence of what his wishes than campaign trail claims.

How about the fact that it was Pelosi who made the call not to include the public option in the final health care reform package? Is that evidence that Pelosi never wanted a public option or to achieve meaningful health care reform? No, of course it's not. It's just a reflection of the realities of the legislative process. The votes weren't there.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:13 PM on July 23, 2010


Also: You mean acts like two major primetime television specials (not to mention countless speeches and town hall appearances) on the urgency of passing HCR, all of which specifically included a call to include a public option until it became clear that this was proving to be a political impossibility? How about introducing the idea of a public option in the first place, as I pointed out upthread (the public option was part of the presidents original outline of his health care reform plan even after he took office, only to eventually be rejected as politically impractical by centrist and conservative Dems)? Are all of those acts also evidence to you that he never wanted a public option? Or are you selectively ignoring evidence that doesn't confirm your existing beliefs and attitudes, because that's more what it seems like to me...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:19 PM on July 23, 2010


Of course the Senate didn't have the votes, especially since Obama had already agreed to kill it August of the previous year. The House was playing catch-up.

On preview: you give far too much credence to words and not acts. Obama agreed, with lobbyists from the drug and hospital industries, not to push HCR only seven months after getting elected.

Even Bush engaged in a little show diplomacy with Saddam before he blew up Iraq. Do you believe that George Bush also wanted, in his heart of hearts, to solve that problem with diplomacy? Or do you selectively give credence only to particular politicians...
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 12:24 PM on July 23, 2010


theories like yours that claim to be able to accurately extract truths about the contents of the president's heart and mind

That is the whole point! If you want to know what's in his mind, look at what he did, which is cut a deal to kill public option before it even got off the ground, while simultaneously telling everyone that he still wanted it.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2010


All alleged evidence of this "secret deal" comes from second or third hand press reports of claims made by hospital industry lobbyists. You expect me to accept the word of paid industry lobbyists who have everything to gain by leaking stories that undermine political support for the reform effort are acting in better faith than the guy who originally raised the whole issue? Please. All the evidence you have for your claims of specific acts amount to nothing more than he-said, she-said nonsense from industry insiders and the press. I don't even trust those two groups enough to ask them for directions to the bathroom anymore.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:37 PM on July 23, 2010


look at what he did, which is cut a deal to kill public option before it even got off the ground

A claim I'm supposed to accept on basis of leaked accounts of industry lobbyists? Give me a break. The fact that these claims originate from the sources they do make them less credible than if you were just asserting them nakedly without any support at all. It's a classic business negotiation tactic to leak rumors of deals that haven't actually been made to make it seem like an inevitability and weaken political opposition. This kind of stuff happens routinely during acquisitions, mergers and all other manner of business deal. And the press often acts as the patsy in such negotiation moves.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:45 PM on July 23, 2010


Yeah well, that's just like, your opinion, man
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 12:54 PM on July 23, 2010


« Older 1000 Oceans   |   A Neat Story of the Flight of... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post