Posts Tagged 'Barack Obama'

This Crisis Is Way Bigger Than Dead Banks and Wall Street Bailouts

Why the economic crisis, and its solution, are bigger than anyone has so far admitted.

By James Galbraith, Washington Monthly. Posted March 23, 2009.

Barack Obama’s presidency began in hope and goodwill, but its test will be its success or failure on the economics. Did the president and his team correctly diagnose the problem? Did they act with sufficient imagination and force? And did they prevail against the political obstacles — and not only that, but also against the procedures and the habits of thought to which official Washington is addicted?

The president has an economic program. But there is, so far, no clear statement of the thinking behind that program, and there may not be one, until the first report of the new Council of Economic Advisers appears next year. We therefore resort to what we know about the economists: the chair of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers; the CEA chair, Christina Romer; the budget director, Peter Orszag; and their titular head, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. This is plainly a capable, close-knit group, acting with energy and commitment. Deficiencies of their program cannot, therefore, be blamed on incompetence. Rather, if deficiencies exist, they probably result from their shared background and creed — in short, from the limitations of their ideas.

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Igor Panarin: U.S. Will Collapse By Next Year

MIKE ECKEL | Huffington Post | March 4, 2009

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MOSCOW — If you’re inclined to believe Igor Panarin, and the Kremlin wouldn’t mind if you did, then President Barack Obama will order martial law this year, the U.S. will split into six rump-states before 2011, and Russia and China will become the backbones of a new world order.

Panarin might be easy to ignore but for the fact that he is a dean at the Foreign Ministry’s school for future diplomats and a regular on Russia’s state-guided TV channels. And his predictions fit into the anti-American story line of the Kremlin leadership.

“There is a high probability that the collapse of the United States will occur by 2010,” Panarin told dozens of students, professors and diplomats Tuesday at the Diplomatic Academy _ a lecture the ministry pointedly invited The Associated Press and other foreign media to attend.

The prediction from Panarin, a former spokesman for Russia’s Federal Space Agency and reportedly an ex-KGB analyst, meshes with the negative view of the U.S. that has been flowing from the Kremlin in recent years, in particular from Vladimir Putin. Continue reading ‘Igor Panarin: U.S. Will Collapse By Next Year’

The legend of Rahm

Was Rahm Emanuel the reason the Democrats took back the House in the 2006 election? A Chicago reporter makes the case.

Edward McClelland | Salon.com | May. 08, 2007

Election Night 2002 was a gloomy watch for Democrats. Their party, led by a pair of innocuous Midwestern Main Streeters, Richard Gephardt and Thomas Daschle, lost control of the Senate and lost seats in the House, sinking to its lowest ebb since the Roaring ’20s. Smug right-wing pundits predicted the Democrats were on their way to joining the Whigs in the ashcan of American political parties.

It was a different story in Illinois. The Democrats won everything. They took the governorship for the first time in 30 years. They captured the state Senate. This despite running a ticket made up of ward bosses’ children and in-laws. I remember sitting on my couch in Chicago and thinking, “If the Democrats want to turn it around, they need to take some lessons from the machine around here. Chicago Democrats have no scruples. They treat political offices as feudal inheritances. They shake down contributors like a corrupt pope selling indulgences. They’re sleazy, they’re arrogant … and they WIN.”

That night, on the northwest side, Rahm Emanuel was elected to Congress. A former Clinton whiz kid who’d gotten his start as a fundraiser for Mayor Richard M. Daley, Emanuel was connected — in the three years after leaving the White House (where he’d helped push through NAFTA), he earned $16 million putting together Wall Street mergers. He was also zealously partisan. He had once owned a consulting business devoted to finding skeletons in Republican closets. At a Clinton victory dinner in Little Rock in 1992, Emanuel celebrated by reciting a hoped-for necrology of Democrats who had “fucked” the president-elect. After every name, he stabbed a steak knife into a table and screamed, “Dead man!” Continue reading ‘The legend of Rahm’

Obama’s Wall Street Appointees: The Battles to Come

Steve | Global Research | November 6, 2008

The political battles to come – which will have an enormous impact on our lives and the lives of people around the world – will not be easy. Having a president in the White House who is demonstrably intelligent and reasonable could be a good thing.

But let’s not pretend that, because Barack Obama has been elected, our battles are won.

For instance: today, flush with the glow of yesterday’s victory, Obama announced that he’s chosen Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff. This is the same man who, as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, fought tooth and nail to exclude, marginalize, and demonize anti-war Democrats in the 2006 primary races. He withdrew national Democratic support from a progressive Congressional candidate and recruited opponents to defeat her in the primary. Emanuel has, time and time again, shown himself to be firmly allied with the “centrist” (read: “Republican”) wing of the Democratic party, personified by the Democratic Leadership Council. (See this Truthout special for more on Emanuel’s role in recruiting conservatives in the 2006 campaign.) Continue reading ‘Obama’s Wall Street Appointees: The Battles to Come’

Obama’s choice for chief of staff puts ‘Israel’s man in White House’

By Agence France Presse (AFP) | Friday, November 07, 2008

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CHICAGO: After the euphoria of his historic election win, Barack Obama got down Thursday to choosing a presidential team that faces a mountain of problems, not least the economic crisis and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Democrat dodged the limelight after being elected America’s first black president, but behind-the-scenes activity picked up with the formal creation of a team to handle his transition to power ahead of the January 20 inauguration.

In an immediate reminder of the mammoth task ahead, the Dow Jones share average plummeted nearly 500 points Wednesday on resurgent fears of a deep recession. This was followed by large sell-offs and a raft of negative financial data in Asia and Europe.

Democrats said Obama had asked combative Congressman and former Bill Clinton White House aide Rahm Emanuel, 48, to be his chief of staff, a vital post that helps set the tempo of the administration.

Israeli media on Thursday hailed Barack Obama’s choice of Rahm Emanuel to be his chief of staff, with one daily calling the Democrat of Israeli descent “our man in the White House.”

Radio stations and newspapers pointed out Emanuel’s Jerusalem-born father was once a member of Irgun, an ultra-nationalist Jewish terror group behind such slaughters of civilians as the bombing of the King David hotel which killed 92 people in 1946.

Emanuel himself volunteered to serve in the Israeli Army and did a two-month stint at a base in northern Israel during the 1991 Gulf war, public radio reported.

“It is obvious he will exert influence on the president to be pro-Israeli,” Emanuel’s father, who moved to the US in the 1960s, told the Maariv daily.

The newspaper headlined the article: “Our man in the White House.” Continue reading ‘Obama’s choice for chief of staff puts ‘Israel’s man in White House’’

Rahm Emanuel: A Tough Taskmaster for Obama

By James Carney / Washington | TIME Magazine | Friday, Nov. 07, 2008

Throughout the presidential campaign, Republicans took delight in portraying Barack Obama as all talk and no action. But his naming of Illinois congressman Rahm Emanuel as his White House chief of staff shows that the Democratic President-Elect has no intention of letting that charge stick.

Obama may speak beautifully and inspirationally about hope and change, about bipartisan cooperation and a better America. But he clearly understands that you just can’t sit around talking about all the good things you want to do when you get to the White House and then expect them to happen all by themselves. Which means you can’t hire a staff that’s going to gather at work every day, hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

Instead, you bring in a guy like Emanuel, the most hard-headed, no-nonsense, foul-mouthed, smart-as-hell, get-it-done-or-get-out-of-my-way Washington insider of his generation. And you put him in charge of a White House staff whose task it is — and this is putting it conservatively — to conceive, propose, promote and somehow push through Congress the most ambitious agenda any President has carried forth at least since Ronald Reagan rode into town with a lopsided grin in January 1981. “Rahm does not sing Kumbaya,” laughs an old friend and colleague. “He barks orders.” His hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune, calls Emanuel “a brutally effective taskmaster.” Continue reading ‘Rahm Emanuel: A Tough Taskmaster for Obama’

Emanuel to Serve As Obama’s Chief of Staff

Emanuel’s Ex-Boss: Rahm Is The Perfect SOB For The Job

Sam Stein | Huffington Post | November 7, 2008

Rahm Emanuel’s boss in the Clinton White House praised his selection as Barack Obama’s chief of staff, saying the congressman was enough of a son-of-a-bitch to get things done, keep the White House disciplined, and make tough decisions.

“He was just very well organized,” said Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff and Emanuel’s ex-boss. “He knows the White House inside and out and now, obviously knows Capitol Hill. So he has all the qualities you basically need to be a great chief of staff. Part of the job description is you have to be an SOB to be a chief of staff, you have to have somebody who makes the tough decisions… There are decisions the president ought not to make that the chief of staff has to. My sense is Rahm will do that.”

Panetta, speaking at a forum at the Brookings Institute, dismissed the notion that Emanuel was too partisan a figure to forge political consensus on policy proposals. But his defense could have the counterproductive effect of stirring the concerns of progressive Democrats who have accused Emanuel of lacking ideal ideological firmness.

“Of course he is going to be partisan on Capitol Hill,” said Panetta. “Rahm Emanuel is basically a centrist. He is someone who really does understand where the party needs to be in dealing with the center. And to that extent I think he will be a very good chief of staff for the senator.”

Fellow speaker Ken Duberstein, who served as chief of staff for Ronald Reagan, echoed many of Panetta’s points. Arguing, again, that Emanuel had passed the SOB threshold, he added that the Congressman was “exceptionally well qualified for the job.”

“He will run a White House staff that is very disciplined,” said Duberstein, “but his challenge will be with the president’s outreach and building coalitions on the Hill, saying no to the president elect’s most important constituencies and keeping the White House on a schedule.”

Then, stepping a bit on GOP messaging against Emanuel, Duberstein offered the following testimonial: “As partisan as Rahm may have been on the Hill, he is all about governing. And remember, any time Rahm opens up his mouth, know the voice they will be hearing is the voice of the president elect, not Rahm.”

Against Larry Summers, the Friedmanite

John Wilson | OpEdNews | November 7, 2008

Rumors abound that Summers may be Obama’s choice for Secretary of the Treasury. The Chicago Tribune reports that a choice may be made quickly, and Summers is one of the leading contenders. According to New York magazine, “the inside betting is on a Larry Summers encore. ‘They’re gonna want somebody who knows the building, knows the economy, has been confirmed before and been advising them on economics,’ says the former Clinton aide. ‘I’d be flabbergasted if they chose somebody else.'”

Summers would be a lousy selection for this position. Summers is an overrated economist with a conventional free market ideology. But worst of all, Summers has a terrible reputation as a leader after being one of the worst presidents of Harvard in its history. And Summers has shifted even more toward the right-wing in recent years. If Obama chooses Summers, it would send the worst possible message to his supporters: that he may be nothing more than a repeat of Bill Clinton, and that is rejecting the idea of change in one of the most important posts during this economic crisis. Continue reading ‘Against Larry Summers, the Friedmanite’

Obama’s Treasury Secretary? Let’s Hope Not

Robert Scheer | Truthdig | Posted on Nov 6, 2008

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Barack Obama is rumored to favor Lawrence Summers as his treasury secretary. That’s a terrible choice, says Robert Scheer, if the president-elect is at all concerned about the financial meltdown.
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Transcript:

Truthdig: Today on the Truthdig podcast, Truthdig editor Robert Scheer explains why the man rumored to be Barack Obama’s choice for treasury secretary would be a huge mistake. The frontrunner who has emerged for Barack Obama’s treasury secretary is rumored to be a man named Larry Summers, who was the treasury secretary under Bill Clinton. Tell us why you think that would be a terrible mistake?

Robert Scheer: Lawrence Summers is as responsible as anyone for the current economic meltdown. He was Robert Rubin’s protege in the Treasury Department, and he became secretary of treasury after Rubin, who had come from Goldman Sachs to be Clinton’s secretary of treasury, went off to CitiGroup—which was the first company from the kind of deregulation pushed through under Clinton. Summers was the secretary of treasury that got Clinton to sign off onto the two most egregious pieces of legislation that permitted the financial meltdown. This was legislation carried by Phil Gramm, the Republican senator who was head of the Banking Committee, and his name is one of them, it’s called the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or otherwise known as the Financial Services Modernization Act—that was in 1999. And in 2000, as a lame duck, the Clinton administration approved after Congress passed again at Graham’s insistence, something called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. These two pieces of legislation allowed the current meltdown. They allowed the commercial banks, investment banks, stockbrokers and insurance companies to merge. That’s why you have this problem of AIG buying these phony toxic securities and everything. And it did not have any degree of transparency, it allowed them to merge their data, it allowed them to merge their activities. And the Commodity Futures Modernization Act said that all these new-fangled financial instruments that they developed, the hybrid instruments, the credit swaps and so forth, were automatically freed form any government regulation or any… were not covered by any pre-existing regulatory legislation. It’s those instruments that have gotten us into this problem. We don’t know what they’re worth. Taxpayers are now being forced to buy them. And that’s the heart of the whole thing. And it was Lawrence Summers who was secretary of the treasury, who in 1999-2000, urged Clinton successfully to sign off on those two pieces of legislation. It’s now admitted that they didn’t even known what was in them. That it had not been vetted, there had not been hearings in Congress on the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, and so Lawrence Summers has got his fingerprints all over these things. He assured the president, he assured everyone else, that this was a very good thing to do, but what in effect did, was end the regulatory regime that had been put place under Franklin Deleano Roosevelt during the Great Depression to prevent such a meltdown. So the idea that you would now reward Lawrence Summers for having gotten us into this mess by making him secretary of the treasury, and in an administration that has been elected to promise change and go back to this retread, go back to this guy who helped get us into this mess, is mind-boggling. Continue reading ‘Obama’s Treasury Secretary? Let’s Hope Not’


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