Economy & Budget

Fair wages, retirement security really are the “high road”

Good heavens.  In The Hill yesterday, the so-called ‘Workforce Fairness Institute’ seemed to need a lot of words to play the same old broken record the anti-worker lobby has been playing for years: "Big Labor bosses… forced unionization… punishing small business… Big Labor bosses…."
Round and round it goes, no matter the issue, over and over again.  This time it is "high road contracts." Next issue we'll hear the same song.


Thune amendment would shut down much of the federal government for final months of fiscal year

Senator John Thune has proposed legislation with an obvious surface appeal to those concerned about federal spending and deficits — to cancel 5 percent of appropriated funds for fiscal year 2010, as well as tens of billions of dollars of unspent funds from last year’s Recovery Act and other legislation. But his legislation would essentially shut down much of the federal government for the last two and a half months of this fiscal year (which ends September 30), threatening such basic services as providing Social Security checks, ensuring food safety, and inspecting mines.

The Thune legislation, which he has offered as an amendment (SA 4333) to pending jobs legislation, proposes rescissions (that is, cancellations) of previously appropriated funding available for fiscal year 2010. Specifically, he proposes to:


Support small businesses (Rep. Mike Quigley)

Today, Congressman Quigley delivered the following speech on the house floor:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of HR 5297, the Small Business Lending Fund Act. This legislation will help the small businesses in my district, such as Al and Joe’s Deli, a family owned business in Franklin Park (with sub sandwiches to die for) that is looking to expand.

It will also save businesses such as National Plumbing and Heating Supply Company in Illinois which had to shut down after 60 years because banks ended its line of credit.

To respond to these problems I will vote to create a new $30 billion loan program to boost lending to small businesses so they can expand and create jobs.

I also co-sponsored an amendment that will include commercial real estate lending as small business lending. This will compliment regular lending efforts and help businesses like Al and Joe’s capitalize on existing property to expand and create new jobs.

I urge my colleagues to pass this critical legislation.


Obama's trade opportunity (Rep. Linda Sanchez and Rep. George Miller)

On June 14, U.S. trade negotiators will meet in San Francisco with their counterparts from seven countries to negotiate what could become President Obama's first trade agreement -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. These talks provide an excellent opportunity for the President to deliver on his campaign commitments and break from the failed trade policies of the past. The President can deliver a new trade model for the 21st century that creates jobs, protects the environment, and ensures import safety.


What budget? (Rep. Paul Broun)

Congressional Republicans received a late-night surprise on Saturday.  In a three page letter addressed to Republican and Democrat leaders, President Barack Obama requested Congress to quickly approve an additional $50 billion in “emergency” stimulus funds to help bail out state and local governments.  President Obama spent two thirds of the letter explaining the need to pass this “critical legislation.”  However, on the last page he switched gears and mentioned three times the need to “establish a fiscally sustainable budget path,” “discipline the budget process,” and “ensure a sustainable and responsible long-term budget.” I have just one question, Mr. President: what budget?


Budgeting is basic (Rep. Mac Thornberry)

Budgeting is basic.  It is the first – and necessary – step to controlling spending.  It sets realistic targets for how much money is coming in and how much is going out.  It also makes it easier to prioritize spending.
Apparently, the majority in the house doesn’t think passing a budget is important.  Or necessary.  Or politically helpful to them.


Making rating agencies liable for all of Wall Street’s wrongs is not right

Like reversing the epigram in T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral,” Congress’s last temptation in financial reform is to “do the wrong deed for the right reason.” The credit rating agency liability concepts in both the House and Senate financial reform bills are “wrong deeds” in this sense.


Reckoning day for the raters

If bad things happen in the dark, it’s time to worry about the fate of Sen. Al Franken’s proposal to clean up the credit rating agencies.

In late April, a Senate committee released 18 pages of email messages documenting the utter corruption of the ratings process. In early May, Sen. Franken prevailed on a large majority of his colleagues (52 Democrats, 11 Republicans, and 1 independent) to end the cosy partnership between the rating agencies and the issuers of the securities they rate.


No matter what Congress claims to save, it still spends more

If bill sponsorship in Congress is the best indication of legislators’ budgetary demands, we shouldn’t be surprised that Washington is awash in red ink. That level of red ink, with debt poised to overtake national GDP, has become alarming to many. And as the findings of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) BillTally study illustrate, at least some members of Congress are starting to scale back their demand for new spending initiatives.


Dodd: Failure on Wall Street reform is not an option

Today, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd delivered the following prepared statement at the House and Senate conference on the bill to bring accountability to Wall Street:

“Thank you Chairman Frank.

“And thank you to my fellow conferees for the tremendous work you have done over these many months as we try to tackle the tough questions of how to create a financial regulatory structure that will protect our economy for years to come.