On Wednesday, July 21, President Obama triumphantly signed the latest plank in his bid to outdo Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Depression-era radical expansion of federal government powers. While Obama’s overall program has yet to challenge the New Deal as the greatest federal power grab in U.S. history, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is certainly the most massive imposition of federal power ever inflicted on the financial sector.
On August 10 President Barack Obama signed into law a $26 billion spending bill that, proponents claim, will save the jobs of 300,000 teachers, police officers, and other public employees in danger of being laid off.
On the heels of dismal second quarter results, mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac is asking for more taxpayer money to continue operations.
The White House on July 21 extolled the extension of unemployment insurance by the Senate, claiming it was “not only the decent thing to do but one of the most effective ways to boost our economy.” President Obama signed the extension into law immediately, saying that this was “desperately needed assistance to two and a half million Americans who lost their jobs in the recession…Americans who…will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times.”
Instead of asking for a federal bailout, Maine is considering shifting part of its underfunded pension plan liabilities to Social Security. Without the proposed fix, the pension liability the state currently faces is “going to rip the guts out of our budget,” according to Peter Mills, the state Senator who initially suggested the plan.
Czarist Russia is looking better and better. Once a byword for bureaucratic absolutism, the apparatchiks of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg and their endless rule-making seem positively enlightened beside some of the pieces of aptly named omnibus legislation emanating from Capitol Hill these days. The newly passed Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Bill may be the worst yet. At 2,315 pages and 390,000 words, the bill is half the size of the entire King James Bible. It stretches credulity to believe that America’s political leaders now enact single pieces of legislation many times the size of the entire Mosaic code. But they do.
On Thursday, October 24, 1907, Wall Street was in turmoil. Crowds of spectators gathered to watch panicked bankers and their lackeys rushing about, desperately trying to halt the financial hemorrhaging of what would be known in the history books as the Panic of 1907. Outside one troubled bank, the Trust Company of America — where J. P. Morgan himself worked frantically behind the scenes to keep the institution solvent — long lines of angry depositors waited, hands jammed in pockets in the chill autumn air, to retrieve their deposited monies. No one knew whether the beleaguered bank, which Morgan had declared to be “the place to stop the trouble,” would have enough funds to survive the run.
Years of big spending by politicians at all levels have left the nation vulnerable to economic turmoil. While at the federal level this is masked to a degree by manipulation and inflation of the money supply, among other factors, local and state governments have no such luxury, and many are struggling to find ways to pay increasingly high expenses. Increasingly, the onus is falling on taxpayers in the form of increased and burdensome taxes, and on public-sector employees who face reductions in benefits, and possibly layoffs.
Public-employee labor unions have long been an unchecked tap upon the public treasury. Sometimes these unions have an aura of moral purpose, like police and firefighters' unions. Others work in hospitals or teach in schools, positions that have historically been viewed sympathetically by many Americans. Other unions, like garbage collectors and water-line workers, could cause immediate and serious harm to the public, if they went on strike.
The Gulf oil spill has caused serious economic problems. Fisherman and those in the tourist industry have been hard hit by the oil spill itself. Those who work on oil rigs have been hard hit by the politically correct and utterly irrational cessation of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Tens of thousands of workers are set to lose their jobs, this in a time of high unemployment and economic downturn.