Monday, July 18, 2011

Manic Monday Markup 7/18/11...

Across the Pond:

Not a regular feature...maybe.  The Phone Hacking scandal in Great Britain has drawn fresh blood more casualties--literally.  Higher-ups at Scotland Yard have resigned and Rebekah Brooks, herself freshly resigned from Murdoch's British operations, has been arrested.  Now a reporter who talked to the New York Times has died (police do not consider it suspicious).  In a related item, News Corp stock has tanked on news of a federal investigation into hacking, improper accounting and bribery.  Snowballing.

The Feds:

The debt talks seem stuck in neutral, but a big deal is unlikely to happen even as the debt ceiling is largely agreed to go up somehow before August 2nd.  Still the most likely way is neither a grand bargain nor even a significant down payment.  Instead the answer may be Madman Mitch's capitulation option that cedes debt ceiling raising authority to the president (it should be this way anyway or a debt ceiling should not exist at all).  Essentially Congress would go from approving debt increases to disapproving them.  A sad cynical trip.  Of course this option does nothing to eliminate wasteful giveaways in the tax code, or raise revenue and may rely on some still hefty spending cuts to pass.  GOP should take most if not all the cuts on their proverbial babies since they caused this mess.

By comparison, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma released a downright draconian plan to cut the deficit by $9 trillion over ten years.  That said the Republican Senator gets a courtesy nod for swinging the meat ax at those pillars of our economy, tax breaks for the wealthy and uber-wealthy.

Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has been named to head the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  Here is some useful background on the nominee.  He has solid credentials taking on fraud, abuse and predatory practices within the financial services industry, which the agency is intended to combat.  Cordray, whose nomination will almost certainly face a Senate filibuster, was chosen in lieu of Elizabeth Warren (who clearly supports him), which means...

The State of Things:

...The consumer advocate could become a Senate candidate to do battle with Scott Brown.  Although Warren has made no declarations herself, saying she needs a vacation and to "think" at home, that is Massachusetts, before she makes a firm decision.  The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has already started its pro-(Elizabeth) Warren engines.  Another Huffington Post story notes that the state party establishment, despite bellyaching from the organics in the party, seems ready to line up behind her.  As the HuffPost story notes, Warren's comments were not unequivocal, but alluded to a willingness to stay in the fight for consumer protection.

Treasurer Steve Grossman has ordered a review of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission after it came to light that the agency had spent in two years nearly the same amount as the agency's annual budget.   Kudos to Grossman for pursuing this.  Still, lucky for him the agency is much smaller than the Probation Department so this can only go so far.  It is booze though...hmmm.

City Slickers:

The seeming rise in violence in Springfield has led to a series of news stories (too many to link here) about the city's spiraling cycle of violence.  Although the problems are as real as the victims, officials and residents cannot afford to panic and seek measures that do not really address the problem (that includes make generalizations about the city as a whole).  The solutions need to be carefully thought out lest the city's only response becomes airport style "security theater" that is heavy on the perceived effect, rather than the real.  Oh, and Springfield's spat of violence notwithstanding cannot take the cake on 2011 in New England, even thus far.

City Council meeting tonight.  Home mortgage ordinance on agenda as is the old School Department HQ and review of Secure Communities initiative.  Expect more fireworks about the School Department move to the old Federal Building.

Twitter Chatter:

News of the World hashtag, #notw, still outpacing "Elizabeth Warren." However, some  interesting fruit of a Warren twitter search: the PCCC has raised $15000 for Warren for Senate in four hours.

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