Read This Now: Liberal Follies

by matttbastard

Thomas Walkom asks a question that’s been on the lips of many Canadians as Iggy and Steve thumb-wrestle over the reins of Parliament: “Who are these ludicrous Liberals? And what exactly is it that they want?”

They say they’d handle the recession differently. But they rarely say how. And when points of difference do emerge – such as the handling of employment insurance – they invariably backtrack.

For the Liberals, the time is never right. They come up with endless excuses for never forcing an election on the minority Harper government: They don’t have enough money; they don’t have enough candidates; their leader is too new; the polls are inauspicious; the weather is too warm; the weather is too cold

In the spring, they say wait until fall. In the fall, they say wait until spring.

When Stéphane Dion was their leader, they blamed him for everything. But at least Dion, with his plan to replace income with carbon taxes, gave some hint as to what he might do if elected.

By contrast, current Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is terminally vague. On the big economic questions, he attacks the government without saying what he’d do differently.

Ignatieff presents this as an asset, arguing that the point of being in opposition is to oppose. But in the context of the worst recession since the 1930s, his failure to articulate a clear alternative simply leaves the rest of us confused.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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Bachmann: Obama’s policies ‘fitting’ future generations with ‘shackles and chains.’

by matttbastard

Get it? Nudge nudge, wink wink?

Oh teh irony, indeed, Michele (also, FAIL.)

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Schwarzenegger: US Infrastructure “Like a Developing Country”

by matttbastard


California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger advocates for a high-speed rail system to modernize US infrastructure, which he considers to be on par with that of a developing country. He says, “Our trains go the same speed today as they were 100 years ago,” Schwarzenegger says. “So where is the progress?”

Complete video here.

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Helping Those Who Help Themselves (To Our Tax Revenue)

by matttbastard

Stephen Gandel of TIME Magazine on “The Hidden Corporate Bailout”:

While the $700 billion bailout has been the focus of attention and scrutiny, the Internal Revenue Service and lawmakers have quietly been making changes to the tax code and how it is followed in an effort to further boost the financial strength of ailing companies. At the same time, though, the changes drain billions of dollars of badly needed tax revenue at a time when the federal deficit is mushrooming. Many of the changes may lower corporate tax revenue for years to come.


In the past, corporations could deduct from their taxes only a small portion of the losses incurred by a company they acquire. The rule, commonly called Section 382, eliminated the practice of companies avoiding taxes by buying failing corporations just for their losses.

But in late September, just after Congress defeated the first bailout bill, the IRS issued a notice to change that rule to allow banks to significantly lower their taxes when they purchase other banks.
Now, after an acquisition a bank can reduce its IRA bill by claiming that loans on the books of an acquired rival are worth far less than the previous owners thought, not a hard claim to make these days. The acquirer can deduct from its taxes the full amount of the write-down. Before it could only lower its taxable earnings by a small percentage of the write-down of the pre-acquisition loans.

Jones Day lawyers estimate that the rule change could cost the federal government up to $140 billion in revenue during the next few years. But it would only get that high if every bank in the U.S. were sold and their troubled mortgage assets were all written down to zero. Still, a number of banks have made acquisitions since the rule change and are already benefitting. Wells Fargo will book an estimated $25 billion tax credit from its November acquisitions of Wachovia. PNC, which bought National City in October, could get as much as $5 billion in tax benefits from that merger. And Capital One, which bought Chevy Chase Bank earlier this month, is looking at a $500 million tax windfall.

Aww, such a heartwarming story guaranteed to put us all in the holiday spirit!  Nice to hear that, during times of great tribulation for Big Rich, the IRS is going “above and beyond what’s been allowed in the past” to help engineer a soft landing for its favourite constituents–all at the expense of, er, the broader US public.  And there’s much, much more loophole swag tailor-made for corporate citizens being stuffed in the financial goody bags, so for the complete 411 make sure to read the whole damn thing.

Just don’t call it asymmetric class war, kiddies.

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Shorter Washington Post

by matttbastard

“Some people are worried that Obama’s cabinet may be too competent and overqualified.”

Yes, because the last thing anyone would want in Washington is people with expertise, ability and actual know-how (to say nothing of ACADEMIC COOTIES!!!1). Government should be more like contemporary Beltway journalism: all hat, no cattle. That way the inherent inadequacies of the Villagers are far less apparent.


h/t Jay Rosen via tweet

Update: Rosen again:

I’m just saying… Obama’s team has no yet one from the Arabian Horse Association or Regent University or the Waco Rotary Club…could hurt.

Oh, snap!

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Naomi Klein: “The bomb has yet to detonate”

by matttbastard

Naomi Klein discusses last week’s chaos on Wall Street, and how Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s proposed $700 billion bail-out plan fits the ‘disaster capitalism’ model.

(Video courtesy The Nation)

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