Economy & Budget

No Blank Check for Wall Street

Once again, Congress is being forced to walk the plank. George Bush is demanding a blank check. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is demanding a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. And, they say, Democrats in Congress must deliver both by Friday, Sept. 26 — or else.

Baloney! Democrats should respond by simply saying: No, no, no! They gave Bush a blank check after Sept. 11, 2001, in the Patriot Act. They gave him another blank check for the war in Iraq. They should not betray American taxpayers by giving him another one now, for Wall Street.

Democrats should tell the president and Paulson: No Blank Check and no Bailout. Period. We will not even consider voting for it unless ... unless there’s some real relief included for working Americans and unless there are some tough new rules and regulations for Wall Street.

America Must Admit Recession

Armstrong Williams says America needs to recognize it is in an economic recession and Americans should exercise personal accountability.


The Root Cause of Your Faltering Economy

The current housing crisis is rooted in the conscious decision by financial institutions to relax lending standards. As a direct result, consumers who could not otherwise afford a home, or as costly a home, could put themselves in a position to become financially overextended.

When I bought my first home in 1987, I had to make a down payment of 20 percent of the cost of the house and my annual income had to be at least four times my annual housing costs (mortgage, taxes and insurance). Today, the standard is a 5 percent down payment (or in some cases no down payment) and in some cases no income verification, let alone minimum income to cover housing costs.

Keep It Clean

The Congress is getting their greasy hands on the Treasury secretary’s pristine plan to bail us out of the biggest financial crisis to hit this country in eight decades.

I have a simple message for them: Keep it clean.

Don’t add stuff on there that should be fought at a later date.

I don’t like when CEOs are paid millions of dollars to fail. But that shouldn’t be on here. Keep it clean.

I too think that Main Street should get some economic relief. But not on this bill. Not now. Keep it clean.

The Great American Bailout of Wall Street

It seems that we all can take a collective sigh of relief now that the U.S. government is stepping in to bail out Wall Street from its corrupt schemes over the past decade.

But be sure that the government does not want to play this game. This stunning move by the leaders of our country was the response to executives on Wall Street warning of a complete financial collapse that could have made the events in the 1920s seem tame.

I see that the wizards of Wall Street are held to the same standards as weathermen — they can be wrong, very wrong, but still get paid for a job poorly done. The difference is weathermen can do nothing about Mother Nature and are prisoners of her whims. By contrast, Wall Street executives are rewarded to orchestrate ways to make millions — and even billions — of dollars for themselves, put our financial system at risk, and then leave carnage behind.

It’s McCain’s Keating Five, All Over Again

Two months from now, we will look back and assert that the week of Sept. 15 was the week John McCain lost the presidential election of 2008.

It’s not the first time McCain’s been caught at a financial crime scene. Remember his first appearance on national radar? When the dust cleared from the 1980s S&L failure, there stood so-called reformer John McCain: one of five senators investigated for pressuring the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to drop its investigation of Lincoln Savings and Loan owner Charles Keating.

As the junior senator from Arizona, McCain had the closest ties to Keating. He received $112,000 in campaign contributions from Keating and associates. And McCain co-sponsored legislation relaxing regulations on savings and loans and allowing them to gamble investor funds on certain highly risky financial ventures. Sound familiar?

Republican Financial Katrina: Banks, Bankrupts and Bailouts

Now we see the result of John McCain's Republican economic policies for three decades in the Senate, where he proudly, loudly and aggressively proclaimed his contempt for government protecting average Americans. Now, with Republican government on the brink of a trillion dollars of deficits and bailouts, which is socialism for the rich and laissez-unfair Darwinism that punishes the middle and the poor, we know this: McCain can run, McCain can deceive, McCain can pretend, but McCain can't hide.

Barack Obama is back in the lead. The bounce is gone. The truth will out. The people who pay the price of economic Republicanism will not be fooled by a candidate who runs on the platform of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, pit bulls with lipstick and bearing false witness against Obama. The Republicans, until 2006, were brilliant at this: They could persuade working-class voters to vote for Republicans against their economic interests, like the chicken voting for Colonel Sanders. No more.

Smog of the Market

Who is to blame in the financial crisis? Is it Wall Street, Main Street or Maple Lane (fill in any suburban lane with a couple houses in the cul-de-sac facing foreclosure)?

Nobody seems to know whom, definitively, to blame, or what exactly is going on in the world. High-risk deals paid for with leveraged money, predatory lenders, lack of personal responsibility and the absence of federal regulation are just some of the suspected culprits. You’ve heard of the fog of war; this is more like the smog of the market.

Friends of mine in Ireland who are actuaries by training (though they also double as professional poker players) are going on what they call a “dice trip” this weekend, beginning in Dublin airport. Every decision they make is determined by a dice roll, including where they take their first flight, the number of drinks consumed in a half-hour and what greyhound to bet on at 9:55 in the morning in Newcastle, England. I’ve been on one of these trips before and know it’s not a trip you would ever want to share the details of with your mother, even if you have one of those “We tell each other everything”-type relationships. The point is: I think the dice trip around Europe is a safer bet than hanging around Lower Manhattan at the moment.

John and Sarah on the Stump

This is getting out of control. First, Sarah Palin says “Washington was asleep at the switch” when it came to the Wall Street disaster. Then McCain repeats the same exact statement.

John McCain was chairman of the Commerce Committee in the U.S. Senate. He was one of the leading advocates for deregulation of the big banks and investment houses. Phil Gramm, the author of his economic plan, pushed through Gramm-Leach-Bliley with McCain’s help. That, and other deregulation encouragement of risky loans, led to this collapse.

Pardon me, John, you weren’t a critic of these “Washington acts” — you were at the switch. In fact, you were pulling the switch.

It’s Time for Some Specifics

With the announcement recently of the federal bailout of insurance titan AIG, this country’s financial house continues to shake on shifting sands.

That decision marks the fifth major company where the Feds have had to step in and exercise damage control. I have to be candid when I say I’m disappointed in the anemic responses from our two presidential contenders. I know these are heady issues with a lot of complex, moving parts and econometric repercussions, but that’s what leadership is all about — stepping in and calling some shots. It’s the same scenario and expectation of our candidates when they spoke up regarding Russia’s invasion of Georgia. They each made a specific, compelling case for their respective sides, and let the public decide which plan made the most sense.

On this domestic crisis, I’m really only hearing more political pabulum.