MI Morning Update: 11-21-08
November 21, 2008
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"If we turn our back on Main Street, if we continue to send all the money to Wall Street, who caused the problem, and the auto industry does have to go into bankruptcy, you will see foreclosure rates in this country skyrocket from people who have played by the rules and are currently paying their mortgages and are not part of the problem…in the end, this issue is even larger than the Big Three, in many ways larger than the economy."
-Congressman Thaddeus McCotter
FOX NEWS INTERVIEW…I was interviewed yesterday on FOX News about my run for the RNC Chairmanship and the loan to the Big 3…see it here.
LIBERAL WAXMAN DUMPS DINGELL…in what most mainstream Democrats and Michigan citizens should view as disturbing, California Congressman Henry Waxman defeated Congressman John Dingell for the Chairmanship of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Waxman was backed by San Francisco Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others, who signal a scary turn to radical regulation and job killing policies. The Democrats are sending America a scary signal.
I’m normally not too concerned about what the Democrats are doing, but this is bad for Michigan and bad for America.
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TODAY’S TOP STORIES
The following stories and more are available at my Articles of Interest online.
Posted by Jeff Cranson
November 20, 2008
Communications folks for national enviro groups sat poised over their keyboards this morning, ready to hit the button with words of praise when Rep. Henry Waxman ousted Michigan’s John Dingell from his supreme perch on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Waxman has shown dedication "to the biggest environmental and public health crisis of our time by demanding strong, science-based solutions and building support for action in Congress," crowed Greenpeace’s Carol Muffett in Washington, D.C.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, also in D.C., echoed the praise: "Our nation faces many challenges, including the climate crisis, and Congressman Waxman understands that we can’t delay in taking on these issues." OK, we get it already. If you’re an environmental advocate in Washington, a Californian looks much greener than a champion of the auto industry representing the suburbs of Detroit for five decades.
BY BRIAN DICKERSON
November 21, 2008
He dreamed of going out the way every politician dreams of going out — gracefully, on his own terms, with the taste of victory fresh in his mouth. As things turned out, John Dingell’s fall from power looked more like King Kong’s roaring tumble from the top of the Empire State Building. And for those who like their political symbolism laid on with a trowel, it was fitting that Dingell’s ouster as chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee capped a week in which lawmakers bearing torches and pitchforks all but chased the Detroit Three’s CEOs up the runways of their Gulfstream jets.
Ironically, Dingell was probably as excited about the ascendency of Barack Obama as any Michigan Democrat (even if he did back Obama’s rival, Hillary Clinton, in the primaries). He sensed the tide was finally turning in his lifelong crusade for national health insurance, and imagined that he might end his storied career by spearheading passage of the universal heath care legislation his father first introduced in 1943. Sorry about that, Mr. Chairman. I guess this just wasn’t the week to be known as the congressman from General Motors.
The Waxman Democrats
What the coup against Dingell means for business.
John Dingell’s fall from power yesterday is an important inflection point in the history of the modern Democratic Party. The House purge marks the final triumph of the Congressional generation that came of political age during the 1970s over the last lion of New Deal liberalism, and it is symbolic of the party’s change in culture and policy priorities in the Barack Obama era.
Sitting chairmen are nearly impossible to depose, never mind one with the seniority and record of Mr. Dingell, who has served longer than anyone else in the House. The Democratic caucus nonetheless stripped him of his 28-year position atop the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has great power over the climate change and health-care bills that Mr. Obama hopes to pass next year. Instead, California’s Henry Waxman, who was elected by a reported 137 to 122, will do the honors. (We say "reported" because the vote was by secret ballot, which in a rich irony Democrats want to prevent for union organizing votes.)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed to be neutral, though it was clear all along that she was twisting arms on Mr. Waxman’s behalf. "I assume that not playing a role is playing a role," as Charlie Rangel, another venerable committee chairman, put it yesterday. Ms. Pelosi loathes Mr. Dingell’s independence — especially on environmental matters.
By CARL HULSE
WASHINGTON – Age and seniority gave way in Congress on Thursday, a transformational shift for an institution where tremendous power has traditionally been built on sheer longevity, accumulated and savored with the passage of years. The farewell speech of Senator Ted Stevens, 85, a 40-year member of Congress, came on the same day that House Democrats deposed Representative John D. Dingell, 82, a 53-year member, from his committee chairmanship. It was one of those moments when lawmakers could almost hear an era ending.
"This election really was about change," said Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, as he sorted through the striking events of the day. It was not only Mr. Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Mr. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, who found themselves treated like old bulls put out to pasture. Senator Robert C. Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who turned 91 on Thursday and has amassed 56 years in Congress, had already voluntarily relinquished the chairmanship of his beloved Appropriations Committee before his colleagues could ease him out.
The abrupt change in status for the three lawmakers sent this fact swirling around Capitol Hill: their combined age of 258 exceeds the age of the United States itself.
By Patrick Buchanan
Who killed the U.S. auto industry? To hear the media tell it, arrogant corporate chiefs failed to foresee the demand for small, fuel-efficient cars and made gas-guzzling road-hog SUVs no one wanted, while the clever, far-sighted Japanese, Germans and Koreans prepared and built for the future.
I dissent. What killed Detroit was Washington, the government of the United States, politicians, journalists and muckrakers who have long harbored a deep animus against the manufacturing class that ran the smokestack industries that won World War II. As far back as the 1950s, an intellectual elite that produces mostly methane had its knives out for the auto industry of which Ike’s treasury secretary, ex-GM chief Charles Wilson, had boasted, "What’s good for America is good for General Motors, and vice versa."
The Auto Makers Are Already Bankrupt
Admitting the obvious is their best chance to restructure.
By PAUL INGRASSIA
The moment of truth in the nation’s automotive bailout debate might have come this week. As the CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler begged Congress for federal aid, a Detroit radio talk-show host asked whether Michigan, as well as the car companies, should get assistance. The state is being hit by an economic hurricane, he said, just as New Orleans was hit by a natural hurricane.
Huh? Will the victimology myth never end? Hurricane Katrina was an act of God. The car crisis is an act of man. For the difference, consult the Bible. Any version will do.
Yesterday, congressional leaders gave the car companies until Dec. 2 to come up with viable business plans and renew their request for aid. Meanwhile, it’s worth examining the myths that are shaping this debate. One is GM’s assertion that "bankruptcy is not an option." In truth, GM already has conceded that it’s bankrupt — by publicly stating it’s nearly out of cash and needs emergency assistance. The company hasn’t made a formal bankruptcy filing, which is no small matter. But it has declared bankruptcy everywhere else. Chrysler, at this week’s Senate committee hearing, did the same.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney reiterated his call for tough love for the Big Three on Thursday, telling a national television audience that domestic auto jobs are "on a track to disappear" without vast restructuring of the industry. But Romney, a failed candidate for the Republican nomination for president, objected to huge loans to the automakers, whose top executives descended on Washington this week to plead their case for emergency aid. "Don’t just write a check," Romney told Matt Lauer of the Today Show. Instead, without providing details, Romney said the government should help the companies "shed their costs immediately."
In an opinion piece in the New York Times on Wednesday, Romney suggested the companies seek bankruptcy protection, a move that would allow them to restructure and trim billions in labor, pension and health-care costs. He also advocated selling excess real estate. "These costs have to go," Romney said on Thursday morning. But he did not talk about the impact those decisions would have on hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees who depend on the automakers.
By JEANNINE AVERSA
WASHINGTON (AP) – Pounded by a fierce financial crisis, the country is sinking deeper into economic despair that has pushed the number of newly laid-off workers to a 16-year high, with problems likely to stretch well into next year. With economic troubles cutting into customers’ appetites, cost-cutting businesses dropped the ax harder.
New claims filed for unemployment insurance zoomed last week to 542,000, the highest since the summer of 1992, when the nation was recovering from a recession, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The latest news on the crucial jobs market was worse than analysts expected. They had forecast a small decline in claims. Meanwhile, the number of people continuing to draw jobless benefits climbed to more than 4 million, the highest in just over a quarter-century. Those figures partly reflect growth in the labor force, which has increased by about half since the early 1980s, but nonetheless underscore the difficulties of people trying to find work.
What Do We Really Know About the Uninsured?
We should find out before Obama turns our health care upside-down.
By WILLIAM SNYDER
Next year, when Barack Obama becomes president, he will almost certainly move quickly toward some form of government-provided — and possibly government-mandated — health insurance. A principal reason for this is the oft-cited figure of 46 million uninsured Americans. But what does this number mean? And do we really need to remake our entire health-care system to protect the uninsured? Most people have an incomplete understanding of the uninsured population, which can lead to bad policy choices.
Many Americans believe that the uninsured are too poor to purchase coverage and that government programs aren’t available to them. But a study published in Health Affairs in November 2006 estimated that 25% of the uninsured were in fact eligible for public coverage, and another 20% probably could afford coverage on their own. If we apply those percentages to today’s uninsured population, roughly 25 million people would need assistance in order to get health insurance. That’s a major concern. But the notion that there are 46 million Americans who can’t get the health care they need for lack of money or public assistance is a myth.
DETROIT — Dennis Archer, the city’s former mayor and a former state Supreme Court justice, ended speculation this morning and announced he will not run for governor. Speaking at a press conference, Archer said a campaign would involve giving up too much of what he loves — family and law. "There will be a need for shared pain and shared sacrifice," he said.
In attendance were his wife, former 36th District Court Judge Trudy Archer, his former spokesman Greg Bowens and Gary Brown, a former deputy police chief whose firing sparked the text-message scandal that brought down former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Archer has mentioned for months he was considering a run at the state’s highest office and recently said he has no interest in serving in some capacity in the administration of incoming U.S. President Barack Obama. Archer said today he doesn’t think he would receive an Obama appointment, or would be asked to serve on the Supreme Court because he is 66 and the president would want a justice who could serve for 30 years.
Al Qaeda Detainees and Congress’s Duty
Habeas corpus hearings could set terrorists free inside the U.S.
By MICHAEL B. MUKASEY
Last June in Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time in our history that aliens captured and held as enemy combatants abroad (in this case, at the Guantanamo Bay military base) had a constitutional right to challenge their detentions by filing petitions for habeas corpus in federal court. The Court recognized that its holding was unprecedented. Yet it said that it was not deciding how such proceedings should be conducted, or even what the government must show to prevail.
David KleinYesterday, the federal district court in Washington concluded the first such habeas proceeding for six detainees. It held that the government had established a basis for holding only one of them as an enemy combatant. The court acknowledged that the evidence the detainees were planning to travel to Afghanistan to join the fight was perfectly appropriate for use as intelligence (the purpose for which it was collected) — but that such evidence was not sufficient to carry the government’s burden of proving in court that the detainees were enemy combatants.
Afghanistan’s swift unraveling has created new – and in some quarters unrealistic – enthusiasm for talks with the Taliban. We agree that there should be a serious effort to win over lower-level militants and tribal leaders – people who are not true believers but have allied with extremists because they had no choice, needed the money or have grown so disillusioned with the Afghan government that they forgot the horrors of Taliban rule.
President-elect Barack Obama has said that he is open to such an approach. Gen. David McKiernan, the top American commander in Afghanistan, says he is working on a plan to engage militants in local councils provided they reject the Taliban and accept the basic civil rights and political freedoms in the Afghan Constitution. At the same time, we are deeply skeptical that there is any deal to be cut with Taliban leaders who gave sanctuary to Al Qaeda before 9/11 and would undoubtedly insist on re-imposing their repressive, medieval ways, including denying education and medical care to women.