Tagged: Congress

I got a Question

It’s serious as cancer.

What the hell isJesse White doing?

Nancy Erickson, the secretary of the Senate, rejected Burris’ appointment on Monday because Burris’ certificate of appointment was missing the signature of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, an aide to the secretary said.

Rule 2 of the Standing Rules of the Senate states that the secretary of state must sign the certificate of election along with the governor.

White has declined to sign the certificate, siding with some Senate Democrats who say Burris should not be seated because of the cloud over Blagojevich.

Senate Democrats have said they would not seat Burris because he was appointed by Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of scheming to sell the Senate seat.

The focus of all this Bullshit is on the wrong person.

Someone tell Jesse White to stop Hating and sign the damn appointment so his state can have TWO senators.

I will be shanking Mr. Secretary as soon as I get hold of what his angle is supposed to be.

Now Starring on Front Street: Chuck Schumer

While you were alternately laughing at George W. Bush ducking shoes in Iraq and watching in nail-biting anxiety as the Dallas Cowboys string along its fans in  their annual late-season heartbreaking swoon, The NY Times put Sen. Charles Schumer on front street.

An exceptional fund raiser — a “jackhammer,” someone who knows him says, for whom “ ‘no’ is the first step to ‘yes,’ ” — Mr. Schumer led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the last four years, raising a record $240 million while increasing donations from Wall Street by 50 percent. That money helped the Democrats gain power in Congress, elevated Mr. Schumer’s standing in his party and increased the industry’s clout in the capital.

But in building support, he has embraced the industry’s free-market, deregulatory agenda more than almost any other Democrat in Congress, even backing some measures now blamed for contributing to the financial crisis.

Other lawmakers took the lead on efforts like deregulating the complicated financial instruments called derivatives, which are widely seen as catalysts to the crisis.

But Mr. Schumer, a member of the Banking and Finance Committees, repeatedly took other steps to protect industry players from government oversight and tougher rules, a review of his record shows. Over the years, he has also helped save financial institutions billions of dollars in higher taxes or fees.

He succeeded in limiting efforts to regulate credit-rating agencies, for example, sponsored legislation that cut fees paid by Wall Street firms to finance government oversight, pushed to allow banks to have lower capital reserves and called for the revision of regulations to make corporations’ balance sheets more transparent.

Oh, thats not good enough for you?  Try this one on for size:

An exceptional fund raiser — a “jackhammer,” someone who knows him says, for whom “ ‘no’ is the first step to ‘yes,’ ” — Mr. Schumer led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the last four years, raising a record $240 million while increasing donations from Wall Street by 50 percent. That money helped the Democrats gain power in Congress, elevated Mr. Schumer’s standing in his party and increased the industry’s clout in the capital.

But in building support, he has embraced the industry’s free-market, deregulatory agenda more than almost any other Democrat in Congress, even backing some measures now blamed for contributing to the financial crisis.

Other lawmakers took the lead on efforts like deregulating the complicated financial instruments called derivatives, which are widely seen as catalysts to the crisis.

But Mr. Schumer, a member of the Banking and Finance Committees, repeatedly took other steps to protect industry players from government oversight and tougher rules, a review of his record shows. Over the years, he has also helped save financial institutions billions of dollars in higher taxes or fees.

He succeeded in limiting efforts to regulate credit-rating agencies, for example, sponsored legislation that cut fees paid by Wall Street firms to finance government oversight, pushed to allow banks to have lower capital reserves and called for the revision of regulations to make corporations’ balance sheets more transparent.

“On the right, you have those who view any government intervention as a threat to free markets,” one executive recalled Mr. Schumer explaining. “On the left, you have people who choose to view this as a government handout to the rich. In the middle, you have everyone who knows and takes the Treasury secretary seriously and recognizes that if something is not done here, we could be staring into an abyss.”

Still not convinced?  Brace yourself for the punchline:

At times in Congress, Mr. Schumer has teamed up with Republicans, like former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, who aggressively promoted a free-market agenda. Mr. Schumer pushed for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law, passed in November 1999, which knocked down the walls between investment banks and commercial banks and allowed financial supermarkets to flourish. The law also weakened regulatory oversight by fracturing it among different agencies.

In 2001, Mr. Schumer and Mr. Gramm jointly proposed legislation that would cut fees paid by Wall Street firms and others to the S.E.C. in half, or by $14 billion, over the coming decade. Their proposal included some extra money for salaries of commission employees.

But with trading volumes high, Mr. Schumer argued, the government was collecting far too much money from those fees and using it to subsidize other government operations. “It is a tax, an unintended but very real tax, on all sorts of investors,” he said at the time.

But some Democrats, pointing to the recent corporate accounting scandals, argued that the S.E.C. budget should be doubled or tripled so it could more effectively combat fraud that could lead to a major economic collapse.

“We are making a tragic mistake,” Representative John J. LaFalce, Democrat of New York, warned in arguing for a much smaller reduction in S.E.C. fees.

“We give the industry what it asks for unwittingly.”

Mr. Schumer’s argument prevailed, and the fee cut passed overwhelmingly.

So, while you’re cheering the overwhelming Democratic Majority, remember the folk who helped bankroll it and be sure to keep an eye on Mr. Schumer.

The Cruel Cycle

One of the great ironies in any legislative branch is the fact that in order to get a certain amount of pull for your district, your representative needs seniority.  In order to get seniority, they spend a lot of time fund-raising and deal making, which in turn makes them a typical grimy politician and in turn makes you get the urge to vote them out.

Then you’re reminded that if you DO put them out (especially if you are dealing with a Rep of color) you have to go through the whole hassle of having a representative with no experience finding his way while you have little to no influence on the general scene.

This is the cruel cycle of the legislative branch, where EVERYONE ELSE’S Congressman/State Rep/City Councilman is a crook and yours is just handling biz.

But what about when The proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan and even those of us OUTSIDE the district are affected.  What do you do when YOUR rep is a Heavy Hitter and his potential doom affects the whole country?

Let us dispense with the hypotheticals and get on with the reality.

 

Charlie Rangel is fuckin up, Harlem.

Charlie Rangel might be looking for a shovel these days. The flurries started last summer as a series of embarrassing revelations. Among them was the fact that Rangel was occupying four rent-controlled apartments simultaneously in Upper Manhattan, and that his tax returns — Rangel is the chairman of the tax code–writing House Ways and Means Committee — were such a mess that he was hiring a “forensic auditor” to figure out why he had failed to report $75,000 in rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic. Adding to the tangle of questions was the fact that, even as he was living in those New York apartments and being charged less than half what they would cost on the going market, Rangel was claiming a homestead exemption on a house he owns in Washington, D.C.

All of that might be written off as small lapses, or even just sloppiness. But any snickering stopped last week, when the New York Times reported that Rangel had been “instrumental” in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company whose chief executive had pledged $1 million to a school of public service named for Rangel at City College of New York CCNY). Now the doubts surrounding Rangel have grown to the point that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is worried they will linger past Barack Obama’s inauguration and into the dawn of the new Democratic era. She issued a statement the day before Thanksgiving saying she expects the House Ethics Committee to complete its initial inquiry into Rangel — an investigation that the chairman called for himself — by Jan. 3.

What are you going to do?