A budget-buster in the making

A budget-buster in the making

By David S. Broder
Sunday, November 22, 2009

 

It’s simply not true that America is ambivalent about everything when it comes to the Obama health plan.

 

The day after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) gave its qualified blessing to the version of health reform produced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Quinnipiac University poll of a national cross section of voters reported its latest results.

 

This poll may not be as famous as some others, but I know the care and professionalism of the people who run it, and one question was particularly interesting to me.

 

It read: “President Obama has pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our federal budget deficit over the next decade. Do you think that President Obama will be able to keep his promise or do you think that any health care plan that Congress passes and President Obama signs will add to the federal budget deficit?”

 

The answer: Less than one-fifth of the voters — 19 percent of the sample — think he will keep his word. Nine of 10 Republicans and eight of 10 independents said that whatever passes will add to the torrent of red ink. By a margin of four to three, even Democrats agreed this is likely.

 

That fear contributed directly to the fact that, by a 16-point margin, the majority in this poll said they oppose the legislation moving through Congress.

 

I have been writing for months that the acid test for this effort lies less in the publicized fight over the public option or the issue of abortion coverage than in the plausibility of its claim to be fiscally responsible.

 

This is obviously turning out to be the case. While the CBO said that both the House-passed bill and the one Reid has drafted meet Obama’s test by being budget-neutral, every expert I have talked to says that the public has it right. These bills, as they stand, are budget-busters.

 

Here, for example, is what Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group of budget watchdogs, told me: “The Senate bill is better than the House version, but there’s not much reform in this bill. As of now, it’s basically a big entitlement expansion, plus tax increases.”

 

Here’s another expert, Maya MacGuineas, the president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “While this bill does a better job than the House version at reducing the deficit and controlling costs, it still doesn’t do enough. Given the political system’s aversion to tax increases and spending cuts, I worry about what the final bill will look like.”

 

These are nonpartisan sources, but Republican budget experts such as former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin amplify the point with specific examples and biting language. Holtz-Eakin cites a long list of Democratic-sponsored “budget gimmicks” that made it possible for the CBO to estimate that Reid’s bill would reduce federal deficits by $130 billion by 2019.

 

Perhaps the biggest of those maneuvers was Reid’s decision to postpone the start of subsidies to help the uninsured buy policies from mid-2013 to January 2014 — long after taxes and fees levied by the bill would have begun.

 

Even with that change, there is plenty in the CBO report to suggest that the promised budget savings may not materialize. If you read deep enough, you will find that under the Senate bill, “federal outlays for health care would increase during the 2010-2019 period” — not decline. The gross increase would be almost $1 trillion — $848 billion, to be exact, mainly to subsidize the uninsured. The net increase would be $160 billion.

 

But this depends on two big gambles. Will future Congresses actually impose the assumed $420 billion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health programs? They never have.

 

And will this Congress enact the excise tax on high-premium insurance policies (the so-called Cadillac plans) in Reid’s bill? Obama has never endorsed them, and House Democrats — reacting to union pressure — turned them down in favor of a surtax on millionaires’ income.

 

The challenge to Congress — and to Obama — remains the same: Make the promised savings real, and don’t pass along unfunded programs to our children and grandchildren.

 

davidbroder@washpost.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama says it: There’s a chance he won’t run in 2012 Who’s Afraid of the big bad Palin??

Obama says it: There’s a chance he won’t run in 2012

President Obama in ChinaPresident Obama in China 

 

In an interview with CNN in China, President Obama opened the possibility to not running for re-election in 2012 — something that no president has done since Lyndon Johnson.

Here’s what he said:

“You know, if – if I feel like I’ve made the very best decisions for the American people and three years from now I look at it and, you know, my poll numbers are in the tank and because we’ve gone through these wrenching changes, you know, politically, I’m in a tough spot, I’ll – I’ll feel all right about myself,” Obama told CNN’s Ed Henry.

“I said to myself very early on, even when I started running for office, I don’t want to be making decisions based on getting re-elected, because I think the challenges that America faces right now are so significant,” the president also said.

“Obviously, if I make those decisions and I think that I’m moving the country on the right direction economically, in terms of our security interests, our foreign policy, I’d like to think that those policies are continued because they’re not going to bear fruit just in four years.”

But in the next breath the president quickly sounded like someone who would relish taking his case to the American people in 2012, saying he’s tackling big issues like health care and Iran that he’s confident will bear fruit in the future.

How far-fetched is this. The quick answer: pretty.

But consider that Obama was the most reluctant presidential candidate in modern times and that he has a young family.

So, yea, there’s a slim possibility that he’s a no-go next time.

Oh, Obama said he doesn’t have time to read Sarah Palin’s new book.

A failed presidency is now unavoidable

A failed presidency is now unavoidable

By Monty Pelerin, American Thinker

 Obama’s Weakness is showing to the whole world

For the past couple of months I have worried about the risks of a failed presidency. No one should want this, regardless of party affiliation. It is harmful and dangerous to our economy and country. However, it appears obvious to me that the royal regime known as Obama has ended.

Seth Leibsohn writing in the National Review summarized it this way: “This is reminiscent of the Jimmy Carter years – the last time the U.S. was seen as weak – unable to move and coax other countries, unable to reassure dependent allies, unable to have the respect of the world and, of course, unable to move the mullocracy of Iran.”

Even the liberal media are beginning to question the effectiveness of  the President. The media, in full Camelot mode, are slow to react and often lag what the populace started to recognize months ago. Quotes like these, however, suggest they are not far behind.

The NYT reports: “China held firm against most American demands. With China’s micro-management of Mr. Obama’s appearances in the country, the trip did more to showcase China’s ability to push back against outside pressure than it did to advance the main issues on Mr. Obama’s agenda, analysts said.”

Read More:

Upper-Bracket Tax May Be Needed for Afghan War Cost, Levin Says

Upper-Bracket Tax May Be Needed for Afghan War Cost, Levin Says

By Viola Gienger

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) — Higher-income Americans should be taxed to pay for more troops sent to Afghanistan and NATO should provide half of the new soldiers, said Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

An “additional income tax to the upper brackets, folks earning more than $200,000 or $250,000” a year, could fund more troops, Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.

White House Budget Director Peter Orszag has estimated that each additional soldier in Afghanistan could cost $1 million, for a total that could reach $40 billion if 40,000 more troops are added.

That cost, Levin said, should be paid by wealthier taxpayers. “They have done incredibly well, and I think that it’s important that we pay for it if we possibly can” instead of increasing the federal debt load, the senator said.

Other countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should bear responsibility for delivering half the additional troops needed to secure the conflict zone and train Afghan forces, Levin said. He didn’t predict how many troops President Barack Obama would add.

Levin also said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has faced calls for his resignation from Republicans in Congress, should stay as long as he has Obama’s confidence. The six-term senator said the administration was right to move the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to federal court in New York from a military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Troop Decision Near

On Afghanistan, Obama may decide within a few weeks whether to grant a request from the top commander in the field, General Stanley McChrystal, for 40,000 more troops to fight the Taliban, which harbored al-Qaeda before being toppled in the invasion following the Sept. 11 attacks. The U.S. contributes about 70,000 of the 110,000 foreign forces waging the Afghan war.

Levin, who has supported adding U.S. troops to the war mainly to train the Afghan army and police to assume more responsibilities, said he might back an increase closer to 40,000 under certain conditions. These include the proportion that would be used for training, a plan for preparing enough Afghan troops and a “major program” to provide equipment to their forces.

“There’s a lot of other things involved in showing resolve beside just a troop level,” Levin said. A key element to gain support will be “that whatever is announced, it be part of a NATO-Afghan initiative,” he said.

Conditions on Aid

The U.S. also should place conditions on aid that goes through Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government to ensure that he cooperates in fighting corruption, Levin said. Karzai won re-election by default when his main challenger dropped out of a planned runoff after the first balloting in August was marred by allegations of fraud.

Levin said that while he wanted to be “hopeful” that Karzai would take steps to weed out corruption, “I’m also skeptical.”

Levin, 75, commended Pakistan’s leaders for turning more of their attention from their conflict with India to the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters sheltering near the other border with Afghanistan. Pakistan’s army and its citizens have “taken some very severe losses” in fighting the militants, he said.

“They’ve got a way to go,” Levin said.

He also praised India, saying leaders had shown “restraint” in dealing with “fanatics” who crossed over the border from Pakistan.

On the economy, Levin said Geithner has been “very helpful” on finding ways to support automakers to preserve the industry.

Tighter Regulations

The broader financial crisis has demonstrated the need for tightening regulations on Wall Street, Levin said. He called the Obama administration’s recommendations on this issue “very significant.”

“I think the failure to move forward on those reforms in the Senate is the Republican resistance to some of those proposed reforms from the administration, not Democratic resistance,” Levin said.

He also praised proposals for changes from Connecticut Democrat Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Dodd “has put forth a very significant reform of Wall Street,” Levin said. “It is long overdue.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at vgienger@bloomberg.net

 

With Homeland Security, CIA and FBI recruiting Muslims Just wondering

With Homeland Security, CIA and FBI recruiting Muslims I thought back to the past
 
1, We didn’t recruit communist and fascists during the Cold War
2, We didn’t recruit Chinese communist during the Korean War
3, We didn’t recruit Viet Cong  during Vietnam
4, We didn’t recruit Nazis and Bolsheviks during WWII
 
Do you see anything wrong in the scenario ??????
Just wondering
 
Pass it on

Amazing: Palin’s book number one on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller list; Update: “It is truly unprecedented”

Amazing: Palin’s book number one on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller list; Update: “It is truly unprecedented”

posted at 6:58 pm on September 30, 2009 by Allahpundit
Share on Facebook | printer-friendly

Forty-eight days before the release and she’s already topped Dan Brown’s latest conspiracy-theory casserole at both top retailers. To put that in perspective, note that the book doesn’t even have a cover yet. So much for the Page Six hit piece about demand for her being slack.

No way to tell yet, obviously, whether the monster launch will have legs or whether it’ll deflate a bit next week after Palinistas are all done ordering their advance copies. But if it goes on to become a mega-seller, it’s a game-changer insofar as it’ll establish her unquestionably as the most prominent Republican in America, which leaves Huck and Mitt in an awkward spot before the primaries and presents the media with an interesting choice. Do they try to spin the sales as unrepresentative of her support among Republicans given that plenty of liberals are bound to buy the book for campaign dish and insight into the Palin “trainwreck”? Or do they follow lefty conventional wisdom that Palin would be the easiest person to beat in 2012 and talk up her appeal to Republicans to try to nudge her into a presidential run? (Righty conventional wisdom, of course, is that she’s the candidate the left most fears, but given their expectation of future Couric-type disasters during a campaign, I’m skeptical that that’s true.) Only one thing’s certain: If she hasn’t already been signed to write a second book, she will be soon. “Common Sense Conservatism” by Sarah Palin, perchance?

Update: Prognosis for mega-sales: Good.

HarperCollins will print 1.5 million copies for the book’s first run, the same number that was printed for late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s memoir “True Compass.”

Kennedy’s book, published earlier this month, currently stands at number six on the Amazon list.

A publishing industry source told POLITICO that they “cannot remember a non-fiction book taking off like this in the pre-order market. It became number one only a couple of hours after nothing more than a date announcement. It is truly unprecedented.”

Much of the 400-page book is based on journals Palin kept during her vice-presidential run.

Democrats worry about damage from Obama agenda—‘Initiatives in Washington come with steep political price tag’

Democrats worry about damage from Obama agenda

‘Initiatives in Washington come with steep political price tag’


 

By Bob Unruh
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of monthly “Freedom Index” polls conducted exclusively for WND by the public opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.

Obama on China’s Great Wall

Democrats are starting to worry that President Obama’s “charge-and-spend” debt, new “cap-and-trade” tax and “apologize to the world” agendas are going to hurt them when they run for re-election, leaving the WorldNetDaily Freedom Index ticking up to 53.2 on a 100-point scale, despite a month of relatively few major controversies.

“What I think is going on here is that Democrats are growing slightly more concerned that the Democratic initiatives in Washington may come with a steep political price tag outside the beltway,” said Fritz Wenzel of Wenzel Strategies.

“This is especially true after the Democratic election losses in deep blue New Jersey and in swing state Virginia,” he continued.

“Those losses in the gubernatorial races represent a shocking reversal from 12 months ago, when Obama easily won both states in the presidential race, and discontent over Democratic efforts in Washington clearly played a part,” he said.

Get the prescription for reclaiming America’s heritage of liberty, justice and morality – Joseph Farah’s “Taking America Back,” autographed only at the WND SuperStore.

“The other major factor, I think, was the terrible economy, and voters clearly deciding it made sense to blame the Democrats for not fixing things.”

The monthly freedom index for November was only 53.2, up just a fraction from last month’s 52.2, the lowest figure ever for the measurement. The index is an assessment of how Americans feel about a basketful of libertie

       

The index was 57.6 in June, 53.2 in July, 54.2 in August and 56.4 in September before plunging in October.

Among the issues in Washington now are the Democrats’ plan to increase the government’s role in health care, “cap-and-trade” taxes on energy use and Obama’s repeated apologies to the world for the United States. The president stirred controversy over the weekend when he bowed to the Japanese emperor, as he bowed to the Saudi king in April.

The poll was conducted Nov. 13-16 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 29 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 806 adult respondents and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Wenzel’s analysis showed that after a month in which Democrats and Republicans were split widely over several issues, including health care, members of both parties seemed to moderate their positions slightly.

“After a month in which the WorldNetDaily Freedom Index took one of its biggest one-month drops, it rebounds slightly and now stands at 53.2 on a 100–point scale. It remains four and a half points below its standing in the inaugural Index survey taken in June 2009,” the report said.

The report showed Democrats “made more significant moves to positions that reflected more skepticism about the freedoms Americans enjoy. For instance, while 46 percent said last month that they believed freedoms had increased greatly under President Obama, just 39 percent said the same this month.”

“And, while 61 percent of Democrats said last month that they felt there was a great deal of freedom for Americans to choose a form of religious worship without fear of penalty or retribution, just 47 percent said the same thing this month.”

The index is based on a repeating series of 10 questions that measure aspects of freedom, including freedom of speech, religion, assembly and association.

“There is no question that this has been a tumultuous year for the relationship between the U.S. government and its citizens, but it hit something of a comparative calm spot during the last month, as there were really only two flash points that would have been on the minds of likely voters nationwide as they participated in this survey: the U.S. House of Representatives passage of a massive overhaul of the nation’s health-care system, and the horrendous shootings at Fort Hood in Texas,” said Wenzel.

“You know it is a remarkable political year when you can say that a month with such events represents a calm spot, but I think that is true. The Freedom Index bumped up slightly this month, which is a mild movement and reflects the relative calm across the country. In this same survey, President Obama’s job approval rating remained the same as last month’s rating – at 44 percent positive.”

But he said the results make it clear “the economy may be masking some alarm over the details lurking inside the health-care bill and a proposed energy bill known as ‘cap-and-trade’ that threatens to seriously impact many freedoms Americans now exercise.”

“Should that bill resurface next year as expected, look for this index to plummet,” he warned.

He said while other Wenzel Strategies polling reveals a deep concern about health-care rationing, “for now, Americans are concerned most about the economy, and will render their judgments on these other initiatives once they learn more about them.”

“Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have done an effective job at masking important details of the health reform measure,” he reported. “Those details will eventually come out, probably sometime next year if the bill manages to become law. If they are as poorly received as one might expect, look for Republicans to clean up at the ballot box next fall.”

On the issue of increasing or decreasing personal freedoms under the Obama administration, those who have perceived a big decrease outnumbered those who have perceived a big increase 269-164. Among Republicans, the margin was 153-13 and among Democrats it was 36-115. Significantly, among independents, only 36 perceived a big increase in liberties while 80 felt the opposite.

Regarding an ability to associate with anyone, nearly 17 percent of Americans said they now have great fear, about the same percentage who have no fear.

More than 12 percent of the population fears punishment or penalty for the way they choose to worship, and one person in three considers the government “very intrusive” in its use of technology to monitor people.

Among independents, more than 15 percent said they often censor their own thoughts or statements on subjects because of fear of harm or punishment, even higher than the 13 percent among Republicans.

Publicity tour turns fresh page on ‘Palin Power’

Publicity tour turns fresh page on ‘Palin Power’

They had been waiting for more than 24 hours, camped out on the pavements in a frigid Michigan chill. Stepping off her bus, in four-inch heels, black skirt and red blazer, came their heroine — clutching baby Trig. A roar went up, acclaiming the woman who they passionately believe is going to save America.

 

“Alaska and Michigan have so much in common — the huntin’, the fishin’ and the hockey mums!” she declared to chants of “Sarah! Sarah!” and “USA! USA!” She went on to pay homage to “just the hardworking patriotic Americans who are here”.

 

It was like 2008 had never ended. The first event of Sarah Palin’s 14-state, three-week, book-signing tour had all the trappings of a political campaign: veteran White House handlers, an advance team, a security detail, VIP invitations to local conservative activists . . . except this time, the former Alaska Governor is nobody’s running-mate.

 

Should anybody have doubts about what a potent political force Mrs Palin is — and what a formidable candidate she would pose if she chose to run in the next Republican presidential primary — attending this inaugural book signing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, would dispel them.

 

Top of Form

 

Bottom of Form

 

There were “I love Sarah Palin” T-shirts, “Palin Power” posters above moose heads, “Team Sarah” jumpers, children in pushchairs, octogenarians in wheelchairs and thousands of “Sarah Palin for President” badges.

 

They had been chanting “Sarah! Sarah!” since the first group of followers arrived at 9pm the previous night to start queuing up to meet her, and all had the same thing to say: she was “real”, the only Republican brave enough and tough enough to save America from the socialists running the White House.

 

Global warming was “horse****”, one man said. Another said that he was “sick of all these bull****” politicians — she’s the straight-shooter we need”.

 

These people were passionate about Mrs Palin, just like the hundreds of thousands who turned out to see her at rallies last year when she ignited the presidential race after being chosen by John McCain as his running-mate. Polls showed that she ultimately hurt the Republican ticket — a disastrous interview with CBS’s Katie Couric inflicted lasting damage — but since then her political brand has only become more potent.

 

It is a conservative, folksy mix of guns, God and small government that grassroots Republicans adore — especially at a time of exploding deficits and record federal spending.

 

“2012? What are the possibilities?” one reporter asked Mrs Palin as she worked the rope line to the country music anthem Only in America. “Not rulin’ it out. Not closin’ any doors,” she replied.

 

The book tour is an open slap to liberal America. It ignores big cities, concentrating on smaller ones, towns and some nearby military bases, in a series of swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida and Iowa — the site of the first nominating contest in the next presidential primary.

 

Joe Verran, wearing a “Sarah Palin for President” T-shirt and a “Palin Power” baseball cap, replied: “You betcha,” when asked if he would like to see her in the White House. “She’s real. She is exactly what the American dream is all about. She has a son in the military. Everything about her life is what so many people in the world come to America to achieve.”

 

The title of her autobiography, Going Rogue, which was released on Tuesday but has been on top of the bestseller lists for weeks, derives from Mrs Palin’s public criticism during last year’s campaign of the McCain camp’s decision to abandon Michigan a month before the election.

 

Her dissent marked a turning point in her relationship with Mr McCain’s advisers. From that moment, they accused her of “going rogue” and a Republican civil war broke out.

 

She tries to settle many scores in the book, and has scathing criticism for two aides to Mr McCain in particular. They have called the book a work of fiction. Yet the renewed warfare has only convinced her supporters of the righteousness of her cause.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Attacks Fed, Treasury

House Attacks Fed, Treasury

Panel Votes for Tighter Political Rein on Central Bank; Some Call for Geithner to Quit

  • smaller Text larger
  • By SUDEEP REDDY and DAMIAN PALETTA

    WASHINGTON — Political frustration over the rescue of Wall Street and high unemployment erupted in the House Thursday, with one committee threatening to impose tighter scrutiny on the Federal Reserve and another trading verbal insults with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

     

    The House Financial Services Committee voted, 43-26, to approve a measure sponsored by Texas Republican Ron Paul, vociferously opposed by the Fed, that would direct the congressional Government Accountability Office to expand its audits of the Fed to include decisions about interest rates and lending to individual banks. The Fed says the provision threatens its ability to make monetary policy without political interference.

     

    Getty ImagesTreasury chief Geithner faced a House Republican who told him, ‘The public has lost all confidence in your ability to do the job.’ He shot back: ‘What I can’t take responsibility is for the legacy of crises you’ve bequeathed this country.’

     

     

    Geithner

    Geithner

    The vote was the latest blow to the central bank, which has been become a lightning rod for politicians responding to popular anger that Wall Street was bailed out while the public wasn’t. The Fed faces a stinging backlash from legislators from both parties who argue that has too much power and too little oversight. On Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee began debating legislation that would largely remove the Fed from bank supervision over the objections of the Fed and the Obama administration.

     

    The Fed audit provision was added to pending legislation on financial regulation that the committee’s chairman, Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, had planned to put to a vote Thursday. But he abruptly announced late in the afternoon that the bill wouldn’t move ahead until after Thanksgiving. The reason: Ten members of the Congressional Black Caucus on the committee said they would oppose the bill to protest a lack of action to address the economic pain borne by their constituents. Although the economy appears to be growing again, lawmakers face increasing pressure in their districts to do more to boost growth and address an unemployment rate now at 10.2% and expected to rise.

     

    Glum views on the economy sparked a retreat from stocks and some commodities, as investors moved to the safety of government debt. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 93.87 points to 10332.44.

     

    At the Joint Economic Committee, a couple of House Republicans called for the resignation of Mr. Geithner, who, as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, played a major role in last fall’s moves to prevent the collapse of the financial system. “The public has lost all confidence in your ability to do the job,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas.

     

    PM Report: Partisan Rancor Over Geithner

    9:23Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner comes under fire from Republicans. Dow Jones’s Michael Crittenden and Barron’s Bob O’Brien discuss the fallout from today’s hearings. Plus, a look at AOL’s future as it tries to shed non-core assets, and a controversy over a World-Cup qualifier, in the News Hub.

     

     

    Mr. Geithner, in an unusual public display of pique, fired back. “What I can’t take responsibility is for the legacy of crises you’ve bequeathed this country,” he told Mr. Brady.

     

    Although several Democrats defended Mr. Geithner at the hearing, some liberal Democrats have been complaining that the Obama administration isn’t doing enough to combat unemployment. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.) called on Mr. Geithner to resign this week, and said in an interview that Mr. Geithner is too close to Wall Street.

     

    “Quite frankly, all the gambling on Wall Street is doing nothing to put people back to work in America and rebuild our economy,” the Oregon Democrat said.

     

    One issue that has dogged Mr. Geithner is the rescue of American International Group Inc. last fall. A government oversight report this week charged that the New York Fed caved into demands from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other big banks and paid them in full for deals they had made with the insurer. Mr. Geithner said Thursday that the government lacked powers it needed to handle the collapse of a financial company that wasn’t legally organized as a bank. “Coming into AIG we had, basically, duct tape and string,” he said. The legislation pending in Congress would give the government new powers to manage such a situation.

     

    Mr. Geithner’s job status doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy and several Democrats leapt to his defense. “He was handed an awful deck of cards when he walked into the job, and he’s doing the best he can,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) in an interview. “I think many Democrats share my views.”

     

    Mr. Paul, author of a new best-seller “End the Fed,” long has been a critic of the Fed. His economic views make him an outlier in Congress, but his attacks on the Fed have resonated in Congress and with the public.

     

    The Paul provision, and the legislation to which it is attached, would have to clear the full House and Senate before becoming law. Though many lawmakers insist they won’t do anything to compromise the Fed’s independence on monetary policy, the provision’s momentum is substantial. It could be diluted before any bill reaches the president.

     

    “Everybody would like to beat up on the Fed and make them the bad guy,” said Rep. Melvin Watt (D., N.C.), who opposed Mr. Paul’s measure. He said audits would “substantially castrate the Fed so it cannot do what it was set up to do.”

     

    Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has crisscrossed the Capitol in recent weeks, attempting to fend off legislation that would curtail the Fed’s power or independence. Lawmakers with whom he has met said he has reminded them how close the U.S. came to economic catastrophe last year and maintained that the Fed’s actions were critical to bringing the economy back to growth.

     

    But Mr. Bernanke faced a skeptical audience. Some lawmakers told him Americans are angry and want more oversight; others said the crisis demanded a rethinking of the U.S. approach to financial regulation.

     

    “What he says is that at that point in time, with our economy literally ready to tip over the edge, he did a series of things he thought were absolutely necessary,” said Sen. Mike Johanns, a Nebraska Republican.

     

    “He was trying to convey that this point in time was enormously serious, and the country was about ready to lock up from an economic standpoint. He just says, ‘Look, I did what I thought I had to to keep the country going,'” he said.

     

    In an interview, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said it would be “a major loss to the country if the Fed were incapable of running an independent monetary policy. If you have the GAO, after the fact, offering its opinions on whether a certain monetary policy action is correct or incorrect, the active deliberations that are so critical to building a meaningful consensus at the FOMC will begin to become unhelpfully cautious.”

     

    [Chart]

    Mr. Paul maintained that his amendment wouldn’t hinder monetary policy, but instead remove a veil of secrecy at the central bank that’s unique within U.S. government. At the Fed, “there’s plenty of political influence going on now — presidential politics, influence by Goldman Sachs and the banking industry,” he said. “It’s all done in secret.”

     

    Congressional auditors have been blocked from reviewing the Fed’s monetary policy operations, its loans to foreign governments and direct lending to banks since 1978, when a law was passed to shield the central bank from politics. Auditors already have access to the Fed’s operations outside of monetary policy, including bank supervision and the special loan facilities created to rescue specific institutions, such as AIG and Bear Stearns Cos.

     

    GAO audits could publicly reveal reams of information that now remain private, sometimes indefinitely. The Fed doesn’t identify banks to whom it lends directly for fear of sparking a disruptive run on the bank. It has suggested that it might be willing to release that information after a lag.

     

    The Fed in the past has resisted calls to release information, only to relent. In the 1990s, for instance, after pressure from Congress, the Fed began releasing transcripts of its interest-rate deliberations after a five year lag. Mr. Paul’s proposal would delay GAO access to Fed decisions for six months. A companion Senate measure has drawn support from about a third of that chamber.

     

    “If there’s anything worse than a secret Federal Reserve, it’s Congress controlling it,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina. “But I do think that there’s a wide majority of Americans who want to know what the Federal Reserve is doing and to make sure that it’s achieving its primary purpose, which is to protect the value of our dollar.”

     

    —Greg Hitt and Deborah Solomon contributed to this article.Write to Sudeep Reddy at sudeep.reddy@wsj.com and Damian Paletta at damian.paletta@wsj.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Obama’s Failed World Travels

    Obama’s Failed World Travels

    November 20th, 2009

    By Floyd and Mary Beth Brown, ExposeObama

     Bowing was not Obama’s only failure on his Asian trip

    Obama, trying to escape the turmoil he  has created in the USA with an over aggressive legislative agenda  is spending time overseas, but obviously, he is way over his head abroad, too.

    Obama sets the record for countries visited during a President’s first year. In ten months time, he has visited twenty countries. Even with all his globetrotting, Obama returns from his multitude of trips with no real accomplishments or agreements. His most recent expedition to Asia was an abject failure for America.

    Proudly strutting into office promising a new foreign policy based on cooperation and international brotherhood, Obama pledged to do away with what he called “Bush’s cowboy diplomacy.” Rather, he would sit down with world leaders playing nicey-nice, building a multilateral consensus. His magic words may have persuaded naïve American voters, but thus far he is having no such luck when it comes to foreign heads of state.

    Obama is no stranger to failure in foreign relations, unless you believe apologizing for your country’s past, defines success. In previous attempts at diplomacy, Obama failed to negotiate commitments from Europe on troops in Afghanistan, bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, and botched our once close relationship with the British.

    Obama’s Asian trip soured rapidly after he bowed before the Emperor of Japan. Obama has shown a penchant for prostrating himself before foreign leaders, giving visual representation to how he is seeking to submit America to the desires of foreign powers. Obama bent so low, it approached the level of groveling to the diminutive son of the man who ordered the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

    Next, when attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Obama shook hand with Gen. Thein Sein, the Prime Minister appointed by a vicious and brutal military junta in Myanmar. By shaking hands and meeting with this unelected dictator, Obama sends a message to all those fighting for freedom across the world:  America is no longer standing with you, but with your oppressors.

    In China, Obama was pushed around by those from whom he is borrowing more and more money.   Obama failed to gain any commitments from the Chinese regarding their oppression of human rights. His creditors also greatly restricted his ability to speak to the Chinese people. Obama was allowed one highly scripted town hall meeting that was not broadcast on state run television, as he had expected. While he was in China, the Chinese verbally attacked American economic policy. To top it off, the Chinese signaled they would block American led efforts to sanction Iran for its nuclear program.

    Other world leaders know weakness when they see it.

    To complete the disastrous list of disappointments, Obama failed to make any progress on North Korea. Upon meeting with Russian Prime Minister Medvedev, Obama announced the US would not complete a new nuclear disarmament agreement to replace the START treaty that expires on December 5. Evidently, receiving a Nobel Peace Prize is much easier to do than reaching agreements that merit one.

    In the biggest blow to Obama’s agenda, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum dropped efforts to reach a binding international climate-change agreement. Obama’s misguided efforts to lead a worldwide healing of the planet will, fortunately, have to wait for now.

    In response to Obama’s repeated failures in China, Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs down-played the trip, saying they “did not think the waters would part and everything would change as a result of his 2 1/2 day trip to China.”   Now, compare team Obama’s current complaints about high expectations with promises from June 2008.  It was Obama himself who loftily proclaimed after securing the Democratic nomination for President, “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.”

    When you are down bowing to another leader, it is very hard position in which to lead the free world. Obama’s way over his head and it shows.