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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Spending cut showdown threatens Obama’s second-term agenda – Reuters

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CBS News
Spending cut showdown threatens Obama's second-term agenda
By Jeff Mason and Matt Spetalnick. WASHINGTON | Sat Mar 2, 2013 9:51pm EST. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Just hours after across-the-board spending cuts officially took effect, President Barack Obama pressed Congress on Saturday to work with him on a
'Dumb' says it all about
Spending Cuts Imposed; US Starts to Trim Its BudgetNew York Times
White House and GOP trade verbal jabs as sequester deadline looms – liveNew York Daily News
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Obama’s ‘Pat Geary strategy’: calling Republicans’ bluff on the debt ceiling | Michael Cohen

Category : Business

As Obama starts his second term, the game has changed: with no need to compromise, he can make defaulting the GOP’s fault


Since this piece was written, President Obama’s “Pat Geary strategy” of offering nothing has … well, succeeded. Friday, Republicans announced that they will take default on the national debt off the table and will push to pass a three-month extension of the debt limit.

Faced with the choice, described below, of default or humiliating walkback, Republicans have chosen the latter. And President Obama’s strategy of holding firm on the debt limit appears, at least for now, to have worked.

Original article starts here:

When it comes to legislative negotiations, Barack Obama doesn’t exactly have the best reputation. Indeed, the dominant view of the president, particularly among his liberal supporters, is that he is a chronic caver, who offers pre-emptive concessions to his opponents, and strikes bad deals with Republicans.

But if the past few weeks are any indication, there appears to be a new sheriff in town. First, there was the fiscal cliff deal, which received more than its share of grudging support from liberals. But the caveat for many was that the agreement only worked if Obama didn’t waver in the subsequent debt limit debate.

If Obama’s press conference earlier this week is any indication, then they might get their wish. On Monday, Obama unveiled his new, uncompromising approach for getting the debt ceiling raised. It’s what I like to call the “Pat Geary strategy”.

For those who have not obsessively memorized every moment of the Godfather Part II, Pat Geary was a fictional Nevada Senator, who tried to put the squeeze on Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) and the gangster’s plans for Las Vegas gaming operations. Corleone’s response is one of the great moments in American cinema. He tells Geary:

My offer is this: nothing.

Eventually, Corleone gets his way, by having a prostitute killed and using the death to blackmail Geary – a strategy that Obama would be wise not to imitate. Otherwise, though, the “you get nothing” approach holds great promise.

Obama’s all-or-nothing strategy goes beyond his oft-stated assertion that he won’t negotiate with Republicans over the debt limit (as he did 18 months ago). This time, he has rejected any shortcuts or gimmicks. No invoking of the 14th amendment, no minting of a platinum coin, no IOUs.


This has put the Republicans in a virtually impossible position. With the knowledge that Obama will not bail them out at the last minute, they have two unpalatable choices: default or a humiliating walkback. Increasingly, it appears that Republicans are leaning toward the latter.

In fact, while liberals, mostly, have been pushing for Obama to mint a platinum coin, or invoke his executive powers to raise the debt limit, these scenarios would be dreams come true for Republicans: they wouldn’t have to vote on the debt limit, and they could launch a political attack on Obama for making a power grab and bypassing Congress.

Republicans have been intent on forcing the president’s hand on the debt limit, to make him acquiesce to spending cuts. But they appear never to have considered that he might call their bluff. Now that he’s told them he won’t play ball, they have no back-up plan.

Still, many suspect that Obama will, all the same, eventually give in. But don’t count on it. As soon as Obama gets involved in a debate over the debt limit, he has already lost. Not only will he yield to GOP hostage-taking, but there is no way he can come out of the negotiations with a win.

This isn’t like the fiscal cliff talks. During those, he accepted a higher tax rate for revenue increases, which won him concessions on unemployment insurance, and tax breaks for low-income and middle-class Americans. Over the debt limit, any negotiation with the GOP will have Obama losing more than he can possibly receive in return.

Then, there is the more important issue: taking a stand on the debt limit is simply good policy. Raising the debt limit has been traditionally a pro forma exercise by Congress (albeit accompanied by pious declarations about the need to cut government spending). But in the hands of House Republicans, it has become a way to blackmail the executive branch into accepting ultimatums.

This weapon, debt default, is far worse than anything else Congress has as its disposal. As Henry J Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said to me:

“The Republicans have made clear that every time the debt ceiling has to be increased, they will demand more spending cuts and, if they don’t get them, they will threaten default, government closure, or whatever. They have said this so clearly that I simply cannot fathom how anyone can doubt their sincerity and commitment. They will keep doing it as long as they get away with it.

“So, the good guys have to stop this serial blackmail.”

Moreover, Aaron notes that if such debt ceiling increases are consistently tied to government spending – and not revenue increases – then liberalism’s larger policy goals will be in serious trouble.

Of course, some might suggest that Republicans might actually kill the hostage this time. They could default on the debt – with catastrophic consequences. But if you are Obama, that is the risk you must take.

And as Greg Sargent pointed out earlier this week, the GOP is increasingly isolated on the issue, with little support for their uncompromising position, even among rank-and-file Republicans. Public opinion is also going against them, the less extreme members of the GOP caucus are running for cover, and increasingly, the Republicans’ biggest financial benefactors on Wall Street are sounding a note of growing alarm over possible default.

Besides, if there is one truism of these semi-regular, manufactured periods of brinkmanship, the GOP always backs down. In 2010, when they wrung a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts out of the White House, they gave up far more in return: a payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and votes to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to pass the Start treaty. In the budget battle of 2011, they won some spending concessions from Obama, but far less then they demanded.

In the debt limit debacle, they got big spending cuts, but these included painful reductions to the Pentagon budget, and none of the entitlement slashes they desperately claimed to want. Early last year, they surrendered an extension of the payroll tax cut with barely a fight. On the fiscal cliff, they were able to roll back some tax increases on rich people – without any major concession on spending.

By adopting a maximalist position in every one of these showdowns, the Republicans have minimized their negotiating advantage. As a result, they’ve won far less from the bargaining table than they would have with a modicum of flexibility. This debt limit fight is yet another example.

So one could ask: why hasn’t Obama taken such uncompromising positions in the past?

The difference is that on the eve of his second inauguration – with two more years of experience dealing with the GOP – he has political leverage. While he had little option but to engage Republicans before, now he can smoke them out. But if he does emerge victorious from this fight, that does not mean he will win the rest.

With battles on the horizon – sequestration cuts go into effect on 1 March, and the continuing resolution (CR) that funds the government expires on 27 March – Obama will be forced to negotiate. Neither of those battles will go as well as this one should, but at least Obama will approach them with the potential to score something from Republicans. Moreover, budget fights over fiscal priorities are completely appropriate: the necessary give and take of divided government.

In the short term, however, if Obama holds firm on the debt limit, he will win a crucial symbolic victory. It will put an end to the ever-escalating legislative hostage-taking, and it will sow havoc among Republicans, further dividing the caucus between its radical wing and its even more radical wing.

That would be a pretty good outcome, even for a lousy negotiator.

Grover Norquist: 15 Things You Don’t Know About Him – The Fiscal Times

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The Fiscal Times
Grover Norquist: 15 Things You Don't Know About Him
The Fiscal Times
He's never been elected to any public office, never appeared on any ballot in any state – but Grover Norquist, 56, president of the conservative anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, can still claim to be one of the most powerful people in Washington, D.C.,
GOP's Ayotte: Norquist's anti-tax-hike pledge doesn't keep me up at nightConcord Monitor
Would House GOP actually vote for higher taxes?CBS News
GOP resistance to anti-tax pledge growsCNN International
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GOP Heads Toward House Win – Wall Street Journal

Category : Stocks

Wall Street Journal
GOP Heads Toward House Win
Wall Street Journal
Republicans headed toward maintaining control of the House, leaving the chamber's power balance intact despite a restive electorate. Based on early returns, CNN, Fox News and several other networks projected that Republicans had already won enough
GOP in Surprise Fight to Hold New York SenateNew York Times
Democrats holds on to Senate majority; GOP keeps control of HouseCBS News
Election Day 2012: Democrats to recapture New York State SenateNew York Daily News
Washington Post

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Democrats have a chance to chip at GOP majority in state House – Detroit Free Press

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ABC News
Democrats have a chance to chip at GOP majority in state House
Detroit Free Press
Republicans hold a significant 64-46 majority in the state House of Representatives, following the GOP wave of 2010, but Democrats have a good shot at eating away at that majority with Tuesday's election. “They have a legitimate shot at getting to 52 seats,
Republicans looking to gain seats in the Oklahoma
An Election Season Like Never BeforeABQ Journal
Senate, House seats are up for
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Romney likes The North Face. Investors? Not so much.

Category : Business

Shares of VF Corp., parent company of Timberland boots and The North Face outerwear, tumbled on disappointing sales. Is it a GOP curse after Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were spotted wearing North Face jackets?

Continued here: Romney likes The North Face. Investors? Not so much.

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Romney Advisers: We’re Losing – Daily Beast

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Daily Beast
Romney Advisers: We're Losing
Daily Beast
With the two parties' conventions in the rearview mirror, pundits and advisers are gazing out at the lay of the electoral land, and senior Romney advisers tell Politico it's not looking good. “Their map has many more routes to victory,” one top GOP

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How the Republicans’ scorched-earth anti-Obama strategy has backfired | Michael Cohen

Category : Business

By being ‘the party of no’ to Obama on jobs, stimulus, healthcare and all, the GOP has left Romney with no positive offer to voters

Barack Obama should be losing the 2012 presidential election – or so says the conventional wisdom. With unemployment above 8%, a recovery that is mediocre at best and economic uncertainty far more the rule than the exception, there is certainly something to this argument. Yet, according to polling guru Nate Silver, President Obama is currently a 76% favorite for re-election.

So why does Obama continue to maintain a small, yet stubborn lead not only in general election polling, but – more importantly – in a majority of key swing states? It’s the same reason he should be losing the presidential race: his Republican opponents.

That might seem like a confusing explanation, but it’s emblematic of the extent to which the GOP has been Obama’s worst enemy over the past four years while, at the same time, may ensure that he is re-elected president.

To unpack this admittedly convoluted argument, let’s begin with focusing on the dominant political dynamic of the past four years. It’s not about President Obama’s legislative agenda or his post-partisan dreams, but rather the unceasing and unprecedented obstructionism of the Republican party. From day one of his presidency (actually, even before Obama took office), Republicans made the conscious decision to not just simply oppose Obama’s entire policy agenda, but to actively and flagrantly thwart it. They promiscuously used the filibuster to block even the holding of votes on Democratic proposals in the Senate and punished party members who contemplated the idea of working together with Obama or – even worse – compromising with him.

Indeed, that Obama was even able to pass an $800bn stimulus measure and comprehensive healthcare reform is perhaps the single most surprising political story, not just of the past four years, but indeed the past 40.

The Republicans’ obstructionist “successes” have taken a heavy toll and can be seen most dramatically in US economic performance since 2009. When fiscal policy has been expansive – as in the case of the stimulus being passed only a few weeks after Obama took office – the result has been job creation and economic growth (albeit of the more tepid variety). When Congress has adopted GOP-favored policies of austerity – spending cuts and reliance on tax cuts to stimulate the economy – the results have been far worse. By consistently opposing and blocking any effort by Obama and the Democrats to grow the economy through additional stimulus measures, like the president’s job bill, and even seeking to intimidate the Federal Reserve into focusing its attention on inflation rather than unemployment, they have actively undermined policies with the potential to spark an economic turnaround.

While one can debate the morality of such an approach, the political results speak for themselves. An underperforming economy has harmed the president’s political prospects and made him far more vulnerable to defeat than he would have been if Republicans had supported or, at least, not completely obstructed his stimulus efforts. This creates a rather disturbing political dynamic: namely, that the GOP strategy of obstructing Obama’s agenda was political savvy and their only real hope of ensuring his defeat in 2012.

Opposition was the only real alternative for a party intent on taking back the White House in four years, and it certainly helped Republicans to take back the house in 2010.

Had Republicans been more supportive of his agenda, or at least allowed the Senate to hold votes on it, the economy would likely be in better shape and Obama would be in a far better position for re-election. From that perspective, obstructionism has been a net political plus for the GOP.

But obstruction is not opposition, and this is where Republicans have left the door open for Obama. By giving the president no support for even the smallest bits of legislation (including programs they once supported) and by not even allowing votes in the Senate on the president’s agenda, they went from loyal oppositionists to relentless and partisan scolds – a point brilliantly reiterated by former President Clinton in his speech at the Democratic convention Wednesday night.

This is the downside to the GOP’s four-year scorched-earth policy. By adopting such extreme anti-Obama positions, by taking the stance that any and all efforts to use the resources of the federal government to grow the economy are incipient socialism, and by making the political defeat of Obama, rather than just his policies, the party’s central priority has opened up Republicans to the charge that they have been needless obstructionists who had no plan of their own for fixing the economy. It’s hard not to see Romney’s failure to offer any serious policy proposals for turning the economy around at his own convention as evidence of a party that refuses to contemplate any policy that doesn’t include cutting taxes or shrinking regulation.

So the same radical anti-government forces that push Republicans to reject every element of President Obama’s policy agenda also make it impossible for the party’s standard-bearer to offer voters anything more than empty platitudes.

Far worse, the GOP has learned the hard way that, metaphorically, if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas. Implicit acceptance of the far right’s narrative of Obama as an America-hating socialist has activated the GOP’s most radical wing of voters. Republicans took a position not simply of implacable hostility to Obama’s policies, but to the man himself. As these extreme voices have increased their influence within the party, they’ve moved Republicans further and further to the uncompromising right on a host of issues – from immigration to birth control and abortion – forcing their party’s nominee to take policy positions that alienate even those voters disappointed in Obama’s economic performance and inclined to look elsewhere.

Perhaps the greatest cost of this approach is that while polls show that voters believe Romney would be a better steward of the economy, they view Obama as someone who is more likely to favor the middle class and is more in touch with the challenges that affect them directly. That reservoir of trust, combined with the GOP’s paucity of ideas, might just be enough for Obama to slide in for a second term.

Finally, by adopting such stridently oppositionist positions, not just against Obama but against the notion that the federal government had any responsibilities beyond shrinking itself into oblivion, Republicans have provided a boost to the Democrats’ vision of government. Voters may still recoil habitually at the idea of big government, but they almost certainly recoil even further from the uncompromising alternative offered by the GOP. In desperate pursuit of political advantage, they have given Obama and the Democrats an opportunity to capture the political middle and redefine liberalism in terms that make it more palatable to a broad cross-section of voters.

This is only one part of the long-term damage. By adopting stances of such rigid ideological purity, by needlessly offending the fastest growing minority groups in the country, as well as young voters, and, finally, by basing the party’s short-term renaissance on the oldest and most reactionary voters, Republicans have left themselves in a political no-man’s land, should they lose this election. Rebuilding a party that has bet its entire political future on unceasing hostility to Obama will not be so easy. In the end, Republicans placed all their chips on seeking to defeat Obama’s agenda and, above all, Obama himself. That opposition has brought with it consequences that might not only backfire on election day, but may well also ensure that the GOP spends more than just four more years toiling in the political wilderness.

For Obama, Republican hostility has left him bruised and in far worse shape politically than perhaps he should be in. But as he gives his acceptance speech at the Democratic national convention, he has the opportunity to turn the tables on those who have sought so lustily to thwart him. I’m guessing he won’t miss the opportunity.

Biden: Romney ready for war with Syria, Iran – (registration)

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ABC News
Biden: Romney ready for war with Syria, Iran (registration)
By PHILIP ELLIOTT AP YORK, Pa. — Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that Republican rival Mitt Romney is “ready to go to war in Syria and Iran” while hurting the middle class. The warning came during a campaign stop in York, Pa., designed to promote
Biden visits West York, blasts GOP

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Paul Ryan Address: Convention Speech Built On Demonstrably Misleading Assertions – Huffington Post

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Paul Ryan Address: Convention Speech Built On Demonstrably Misleading Assertions
Huffington Post
TAMPA, Fla. — Paul Ryan pledged Wednesday that if he and his running mate Mitt Romney were elected president, they would usher in an ethic of responsibility. The Wisconsin congressman and GOP vice presidential candidate repeatedly chided President
Police throng Tampa with GOP convention in townCBS News
No RNC economic boom for Tampa (blog)

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