hopperbach


Call ’em out, Johnny

McCain finally lays the blame where it belongs:

WAUKESHA, Wisc. — John McCain may be going out of his way to praise Ted Kennedy at debates, but he is using another Massachusetts Democrat to draw boos.

In response to a question about whether McCain would investigate those responsible for the mortgage crisis, he pointed the finger at “willing co-conspirators” in Congress.

Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd are two of them,” McCain said, so riling the crowd by the mention of the first name that few probably heard the second.

Atta boy. Are we finally starting to see some fight in the man who shouted “Fight with me!” a month ago?  Time will tell but at least he got the perpetrators right this time.



More monetary musings

The recent meltdown on Wall Street has produced a sense of urgency among politicians and pundits to get something done…  fast.  But haste isn’t always a good thing — especially where Washington is involved. Fortunately amidst all the weeping and gnashing of teeth, there are a few voices of reason surfacing. Here’s Newt Gingrich weighing in on the proposed bailout:

I think the idea of giving the Secretary of the Treasury $700 billion to bail out Wall Street is just so profoundly wrong. I can’t quite imagine that they’re moving forward with it. I mean, it’s wrong in every way. It’s wrong to take money and bail out Wall Street. It’s wrong to give that kind of power to the secretary of the treasury. Watching this Congress write it makes me worry about what all the hidden details will be.

Agreed. Clueless lawmakers are the reason our financial system is in this mess in the first place and the less they get involved in the ‘solution’ the better. I was actually happy last week when Congress for once admitted they didn’t know what the hell they were doing and announced they were going home. But alas… once again the scent of pork came wafting under their sensitive noses and they scurried back to Capitol Hill.

Bailouts might be politically expedient but they are never a sound solution. Every time the government steps in — like the overprotective mommy bailing her spoiled child out of trouble — they make matters worse somewhere down the line. And unlike a Fannie Mae loan, that’s guaranteed.

I’m not saying there won’t be rough roads ahead and I’m not trying to dismiss the seriousness of the situation. But having weathered a storm or two over the years, there are two things I know with certainty.

  1. Panic, worry and negativity NEVER make a bad situation better.
  2. Panic, worry and negativity are GUARANTEED to make a bad situation worse.

That’s why I don’t engage in any of that nonsense on this blog.  Gloomfest ’08 is alive and well elsewhere on the internet. If you’re one of those who hungers for and thrives on dire prognostications then your nourishment is just a click away. But you sure as shinola won’t find it here.

As for me, I have full confidence that we will get through this and be a stronger and wiser nation for it. Just how strong and wise we become depends largely on how much the government chooses to stay out of this and let the free market reign. Let a correction do what it was meant to do… correct. We’re a tough people. We’re going to be fine.

.

-- Cartoon by Steve Kelley 


Where there’s a drill there’s a way

Looks like Nancy Pelosi is finally starting to see the light on the energy crisis. Yeah it’s a flip-flop but that’s nothing new for a Democrat. At least the final flop is in our direction:

Pelosi may allow vote on drilling



Home, sweet subsidized home

Ever know one of those idiot families who live so far beyond their means that just one missed paycheck could literally send them into a financial tailspin?  Well, thanks to those infinitely compassionate men and women in Washington, your hard-earned green may soon be subsidizing the home-loans of these boneheads! Not only that but you get the chance to bail out your beloved Aunt Fannie and Uncle Freddie! And Congress gets to take all the credit! Isn’t that nifty?

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — As the economy continues to wilt under the housing market’s strain, beleaguered homeowners, the housing industry, Congress, regulators and others are awaiting President Bush’s signature on massive legislation that promises relief.

As of Monday morning, the president had yet to receive the housing bill, which he intends to sign, according to the White House. On Saturday, the Senate cleared the legislation, which is designed to prop up the struggling U.S. market and put in place a backstop for mortgage buyers Fannie Mae  and Freddie Mac.

The housing bill allows homeowners who cannot afford their monthly payments to refinance into government-backed loans through the Federal Housing Administration. Also included in the bill is a plan from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that extends a line of credit to Fannie and Freddie, the government-sponsored mortgage-finance titans. The bill gained momentum as worries about the health of Fannie and Freddie spread.

So the next time you see your neighbor polishing that Sea-Doo he financed with money he didn’t possess, be sure to give yourself a smile and a hearty pat on the back for allowing him to keep his house. You earned it!

Story below:

Housing bill awaits president’s signature



Pelosi’s petro pickle

As the Democrats were poised to take the helm in the 2006 elections, Nancy Pelosi wrote the following in a press-release addressing the nation’s energy woes:

Democrats have a common-sense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price-gouging; rolling back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies; and increasing production of alternative fuels.

Now two years after revealing her “common sense” solution, Pelosi is passing the buck — four of them at last count:

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrapped up her San Francisco holiday weekend Monday with a blast at President Bush. The topic — the price of oil. Gasoline has more than doubled since the Bush administration took office she says.

San Francisco’s Meals on Wheels turns out more than 1,300 meals a day to seniors. But now there has been a dramatic rise in expenses.

“Our costs have gone up 40 percent, but even more so, the indirect costs of driving food costs is really taking a big hit on us. Almost a nine percent increase in food costs in just one year,” says Ashley McCumber of Meals on Wheels.

McCumber joined Speaker Pelosi Monday to dramatize the tough times businesses are having because of fuel costs. The speaker blames what she labels the Bush-Cheney big oil agenda, using graphics to point out gasoline prices have more than doubled in the Bush administration.

This is a scam of the greatest magnitude,” says Speaker Pelosi.

Truer words have never spilled forth from her botox lips. In fact, that last statement would look great hanging over the door of DNC headquarters.

What Nancy failed to mention in her fancy presentation is that the biggest surge at the pump occurred after her Democrats assumed control of congress. Here’s a little fancy chart of our own:

pelosi_premium

Yes, things are certainly looking up… vertical even.  Maybe this is part of the reason Pelosi’s Congress has now set a new precedent according to the pollsters at Rasmussen:

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category

Congrats! Definitely breaking bold new ground here. For nostalgia sake, let us hearken back to the inspiring speech Pelosi gave in January 2007 after being elected as Speaker:

The election of 2006 was a call to change — not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country.

And we have indeed taken a new direction… hope you folks brought your parachutes.



Snoopy sales

Heads up all you eBay sellers and small business owners. Senator Chris Dodd wants to know what YOU are up to.

From FreedomWorks:

Washington, DC –  Hidden deep in Senator Christopher Dodd’s 630-page Senate housing legislation is a sweeping provision that affects the privacy and operation of nearly all of America’s small businesses. The provision, which was added by the bill’s managers without debate this week, would require the nation’s payment systems to track, aggregate, and report information on nearly every electronic transaction to the federal government.

FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey commented: “This is a provision with astonishing reach, and it was slipped into the bill just this week. Not only does it affect nearly every credit card transaction in America, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, but the bill specifically targets payment systems like eBay’s PayPal, Amazon, and Google Checkout that are used by many small online businesses. The privacy implications for America’s small businesses are breathtaking.”

“Privacy groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and small business organizations like the NFIB sharply criticized this idea when it first appeared earlier this year. What is the federal government’s purpose with this kind of detailed data? How will this database be secured, and who will have access? Many small proprietors use their Social Security number as their tax ID. How will their privacy be protected? What compliance costs will this impose on businesses? Why is Sen. Chris Dodd putting this provision in a housing bailout bill? The bill also includes the creation of a new national fingerprint registry for mortgage brokers.

Here is an excerpt from the Senate bill summary:

Payment Card and Third Party Network Information Reporting. The proposal requires information reporting on payment card and third party network transactions. Payment settlement entities, including merchant acquiring banks and third party settlement organizations, or third party payment facilitators acting on their behalf, will be required to report the annual gross amount of reportable transactions to the IRS and to the participating payee. Reportable transactions include any payment card transaction and any third party network transaction. Participating payees include persons who accept a payment card as payment and third party networks who accept payment from a third party settlement organization in settlement of transactions. A payment card means any card issued pursuant to an agreement or arrangement which provides for standards and mechanisms for settling the transactions. Use of an account number or other indicia associated with a payment card will be treated in the same manner as a payment card. A de minimis exception for transactions of $10,000 or less and 200 transactions or less applies to payments by third party settlement organizations. The proposal applies to returns for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2010. Back-up withholding provisions apply to amounts paid after December 31, 2011. This proposal is estimated to raise $9.802 billion over ten years.

It staggers the mind to ponder just how many freedoms are taken away from us every year by our illustrious Congress. An average of 300 bills are passed and signed into law during each Congressional term. For every provision like this that we catch, how many do we miss out of thousands of pages of legislation that go through every year?

Big Brother is watching, folks… time to start watching back.



Mighty Senate to ease our housing fears

Worried about your house? Fear not, mortals. Once again your government is coming to rescue you from the sinister forces of the mortgage industry:

U.S. Senate finance committee leaders said they had reached an agreement on a bill to provide about $500 million in help for troubled U.S. mortgage holders.

The primary goal here is to keep people in their homes,” said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

Thank you Democrat Senator Dodd. People of the dependency class that make up your voter base are no doubt wiping tears of gratitude from their eyes after being reassured that once again big bro has their backs.

The money would go to expand offerings of government-insured mortgages, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The plan also has tentative Bush administration approval because it doesn’t tap directly into taxpayer dollars.

The program would be financed by the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation.

Sounds just peachy. But notice the wording — this plan “doesn’t tap directly into taxpayer dollars”. This means that we get to hang onto our green… for now. But what if Freddie and Fannie one day find themselves insolvent? Who will bail them out? That’s right, ultimately we the people will once again foot the bill for the boneheaded investments of others. Not officially stated but… let’s face it, we’re supporting this turkey.

Nobel Laureate in economics, Vernon L. Smith agrees with this assumption and in fact believes that these two agencies are at the root of housing bubbles in the first place. In a WSJ article from Dec. 2007, he had this to say.

Under the Senate deal, the start-up funds would come instead from an affordable-housing fund capitalized by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were created by the government but are owned by public stockholders. This august body has long forgotten that it set the stage for housing bubbles by creating those implicitly taxpayer-backed agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as housing lenders of last resort.

By implicitly taxpayer-backed agencies, Smith means that you and me are the unspoken, unofficial safety net should these two mortgage giants find themselves in trouble. Who else is going to do it? Warren Buffet? George Soros? Ha!

And be assured that any bill that congress passes to “fix” this mess will ultimately be a temporary, election year band-aid. It’ll be like duct tape on a plumbing leak — might hold it long enough for the plumber to… geez, I’m starting to sound like Ross Perot here.

So what’s the answer, then? We are in a correction — let it play it’s course. Sure it will be a bumpy ride but it is ultimately a healthy thing when idiots are weeded out of any market. Conversely it is very unhealthy to reward stupid investors. It only encourages them to make more… say it with me… stupid investments.