Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Daily Strike-3/15/09-Not-So-Lazy Sunday

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. A busier Sunday than usual, so let's get caught up on the day in politics.

SUNDAY SHOWS: Today was a very interesting day on the Sunday talk-show circuit. The most notable interview was former (ahh, that still feels good) Vice President Dick Cheney's sit-down with CNN's John King. Cheney said several news-making things. First, he reiterated his claim that President Obama's policy decisions on torture, Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition is making America more succeptible to terrorist attack. I don't understand how he can get away with saying this stuff.

He also claimed that the Iraq war had largely succeeded in its objectives, that Bush should not be blamed for the economic crisis, and that Obama is using the bad economy to justify a massive expansion of government. In the course of the interview, he also noted his distaste at his former boss for his decision not to pardon Scooter Libby, and his "love" of Rush Limbaugh. All I can say is, thank God this man is no longer in a position of power.

The other talk-shows mostly dealt with the economy. News came out last night that AIG was still paying out millions in bonuses, despite the fact that they've taken billions in federal bailout dollars. Members of both politically parties, obviously, were quick to express their outrage. I was particularly disappointed, though, with White House Economic Council Larry Summers, who said that there was nothing the government could do about AIG because the bonuses were "part of contracts." Hopefully this creates more justified anger at Wall Street. I, for one, don't care if they entered into the contract. If you're taking federal money, you better use it wisely. It's a shame that the government, mostly the Bush administration but also a bit in the current administration, has set no conditions on financial institutions.

SMALL BUSINESS: The other big economic news was the apparent announcement tomorrow of an aid package for small business. The President and Secreatary of the Treasure Timothy Geithner are expected to announce that $730 million of the economic stimulus bill will be to used to cut lending fees for small businesses. The plan is designed to allow small businesses to have increased access to credit, so they can borrow, expand and hire more workers. I'll be interested to see how Republicans react, since they constantly base their economic arguments on what the impact will be on small business.

One thing that this policy reminds us is that we've become so immune to large numbers in the past few months. $730 million really isn't a lot of money when you consider that we spent $1.1 billion in stimulus money for comparative effectiveness research in health care.

HEALTH CARE TAX: The New York Times reported yesterday that the administration is willing to consider taxing health care benefits to pay for access for the uninsured. Obama's economic advisor Christina Romer claimed that Obama does not want to take that route. It would be a difficult thing to do, considering that he hammered John McCain last fall for a simillar proposal. I think there are other ways to save on health care spending that wouldn't directly hit consumers, such as decreased payments to private medicare advantage programs, increased funding for preventative care, and of course, increased income taxes on the wealthy.

That's it for today. Join us tomorrow morning for the Weekly Strike. If you haven't already done so, make sure you are an official follower of this blog. Also, we'd love to see some comments!

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