Posts tagged ‘Antitrust’

11/04/2012

Undecided Voters: Economic Issues

The better choice on each issue is in the left column, indicated by a (D) for Democrat, (R) for Republican, or (N) for neither.

(D) DEFICITS AND DEBT: Which party has shown an ability to end deficit spending and produce surpluses? Reagan made drastic tax cuts for the rich in 1981 and 1986, and tripled the debt. Bill Clinton’s budget in 1993 was passed by Democrats, without a single Republican vote, and it led to surpluses. Little Bush cut tax rates again, started an optional war in Iraq, and failed to request taxes for it. He just handed a great recession to Obama. While right-wing Republicans control the House, and promise to spend more on the military, they stubbornly refuse to tax for it. There’s no reason to believe they are capable of managing the debt.

(D) TAXES IN GENERAL: Which party is more likely to implement fair tax policies that may correct the deficit and debt. Romney said he would not raise taxes. (1-8-12). He stated a desire to lower them even further. (1-16-12). He said we only need taxes for the military, nothing else. (1-7-12) With these extreme positions, he would never get close to correcting deficits and debt.

(D) TAXES: CAPITAL GAINS, DIVIDENDS AND INTEREST: Which party has the better position on taxes as to capital gains, corporate dividends, and interest income? Romney repeatedly said during the Republican debates he wanted to completely eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest (9-7-11) (9-12-11) (9-22-11) (12-10-11) (1-16-12) He later said he would limit his plan to incomes of less than $200,000. (1-23-12) In either event, it’s unfair to people who pay taxes on earned income. His policies would either raise taxes on the Middle Class, or make the deficit and debt worse. He never explained how he would make up for the lost revenues.

(D) TAXES: PAYROLL: Which party is more likely to promote tax cuts for regular workers? Romney was dismissive of Obama’s ongoing payroll tax cuts, as he called them a band-aid (12-10-11)

(D) TAXES: CORPORATE: Romney advocated lowering the highest corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. (11-9-11). This new loss of revenue would have to be made up by the Middle Class.

(D) TAXES: RETIREES & THOSE WITH SMALL INCOMES: Although everyone pays sales taxes, gas taxes, real estate taxes (as a part of rent), as well as other excise taxes, Romney said everyone (poor, elderly, etc.) should pay income taxes. (9-7-11).

(D) TAX RETURNS AND HIDDEN WEALTH: Why didn’t Romney disclose more personal income tax returns? Romney promised to release “multiple years.” (1-19-12). In the end, however, he only showed us two years. We don’t know if he is hiding something, or telling the truth. Gingrich said Romney lives in a world of Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts (1-26-12)

(D) BUDGET, NATIONAL DEBT, MILITARY SPENDING: Romney said we need to stop spending like we have for the past 40 years. (1-8-12). He was critical about leaving debt to the next generation. (11-9-11). He claimed he would cut spending, but he didn’t explain how (11-9-11), except by saying he would ban earmarks. (2-22-12). Romney promises not to cut wasteful military spending, of any kind. (10-11-11). He wants 350 million for the F-22, more aircraft carriers, more Navy cruisers, more Air Force bombers, and more troops. (11-22-11). He would increase Navy shipbuilding each year from 9 to 15, and would add 100,000 troops. (12-15-11) (1-23-12) (2-22-12). He makes the case for the other side, saying Obama is shrinking the military (1-7-12) Romney thinks our Navy is smaller than it was in 1917, and our air force is smaller than it was in 1947. (1-16-12) (1-23-12).

(D) JOBS: Which party would be better for promoting jobs? Obama inherited a recession where unemployment reached over 10% in 2009. It is now down to 7.9% and the trend has been in the right direction the past three years. Romney incorrectly argued no jobs were created from the job stimulus bill (10-11-11) He said Obama’s polices worsened the job situation, which is obviously a false claim (1-7-12). Romney argues the government doesn’t create jobs (12-15-11), the private sector does (12-10-11), but then inconsistently blames Obama for not creating jobs.

(D) LABOR: Which party is more likely to protect the rights of working people? The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) insures fairness between organized labor and management. Romney said he would curtail the NLRB (12-10-11), and would promote anti-union “right to work” laws throughout the U.S. (1-8-12) He repeatedly showed hostility towards the NLRB, by saying it was filled with “labor stooges” (1-8-12) (1-19-12).

(D) MINIMUM WAGE: Do you think Romney would ever promote an increase in the minimum wage? In one word: no.

(D) MANUFACTURING: Which party appears to be more interested in saving American manufacturing? The Republicans clearly opposed loans help GM and Chrysler get through the Great Recession. Over fierce opposition, Obama helped them. Had they gone through bankruptcy, the nation would now be reeling from the economic ripple effects. Obama took a gamble and succeeded.  Romney said funds should not have been used to bail out GM and Chrysler (10-11-11) Romney again said the auto bailout was wrong; they should have gone bankrupt. (11-9-11).

(D) AGRICULTURE: Romney would end farm subsidies as he said to let the markets work. (1-23-12). What he is actually promoting is a localized depression in Midwestern small towns.

(D) TRANSPORTATION/MASS TRANSIT: In one debate, Romney advocated improving the infrastructure, by rebuilding bridges, roads, rail beds and air transport systems. We can’t criticize him for that, but we should not forget his party harbors the likes of Gov. Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Scott of Florida, who blocked mass transit proposals. So on transit, it appears the Republican Party will not help America enter the 21st Century.

(D) ENERGY: Who has the better energy policy? Romney wants energy security and independence by using our own resources (10-18-11 (1-7-12) (1-19-12) That’s a nice idea, but energy resources are fungible and are sold on world markets, so no nation controls them. Romney put emphasis on developing coal, oil, gas, and nuclear (9-7-11)(1-16-12) He’d give more permits for natural gas and oil drills. (12-15-11). He does not discuss solar or wind, but why not? Since Obama includes all energy resources, his policy is better.

(N) ANTITRUST: Has either candidate advocated antitrust lawsuits to break up companies too big to fail? No. Antitrust was a Republican idea in 1890, and prosecutions are now needed to break up the concentrations of power in the hands of a few.

(D) FEDERAL RESERVE: Romney claims Federal Reserve chair Bernanke pumped too much money into the economy (9-7-11), and he would discharge him. (10-11-11). He said Congress should have Fed oversight, but no control over the currency. (9-12-11). Since Romney is opposed to priming the pump through Monetary Policy, how would he have stimulated it?

(D) BANK BAILOUTS: At one point, Romney said he didn’t want to save the Wall Street banks, as Bush did (2-22-12). It appears he would have just let the system collapse, but if that had happened, we’d be in a deep depression right now.

(D) WALL STREET: Romney correctly pointed out the derivatives market was not regulated (1-23-12), but he failed to promote a regulation of it. He instead criticized those occupying Wall Street, by saying they were engaged in dangerous class warfare (10-18-11).

(D) HOUSING: Romney supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (10-11-11) (10-18-11) He accused Fannie and Freddie of offering mortgages to people who can’t afford them (1-26-12). He opposed the Dodd-Frank law, claiming it makes it harder for banks to make loans (1-7-12)(1-8-12).  He said the government should not stop the banks from foreclosing (10-18-11). He claimed Obama was holding off the foreclosure process, and argued we must let the market work (11-9-11) His non-solution solution is to block-grant housing vouchers (2-22-12).

(D) VULTURE CAPITALIST: If Romney wins, he’ll be the first President with a vulture capitalist background. He claims to have successfully operated businesses (12-15-11), but he was really a Bain investor, who just made money for himself and his partners. Gingrich accused him of profiting by stripping American businesses of assets,  bankrupting companies, and laying off workers (1-7-12) Romney said they had to be downsized (1-7-12) Gingrich said Romney’s Bain looted companies and left people unemployed (1-8-12). Gingrich said he was engaged in vulture capitalism. (1-16-12). In an interesting contradiction, while discussing tax returns, Romney said his income came from a blind trust. He said the money I earn: “is not made by me.” (1-26-12).

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05/23/2012

Bank Bailouts: Were They Needed?

As the banks crashed in 2008, George Bush’s government took action to bail them out, and his emergency measures continued under President Obama in 2009, and beyond, as both parties, at least tacitly, approved of the efforts.

During the Republican primary debates in 2011 and 2012, all of the conservatives criticized the bank bailouts, including Congresswoman Bachmann who categorically opposed all government loans. Congressman Ron Paul said he would not give any assistance to any private firm. He mocked the bailouts saying: “They thought the world would end, if we did not bail out the banks.” He was concerned, because he said the Fed even sent five billion overseas to bail out foreign banks.

Gov. Huntsman opposed the bailouts, arguing we spent trillions, and have nothing to show for it. Sen. Santorum opposed the bank rescue, noting he would have done nothing about the meltdown. He said the financial institutions should have been allowed to go bankrupt. Why prop them up through government, he asked? Santorum asked Gov. Romney why he supported the Wall Street bank bailouts, if he believed in capitalism. Why not let destructive capitalism work, he asked?

Gov. Romney felt President Bush had to take action to keep all banks from closing, but characteristically contradicted himself, saying: “I didn’t want to save Wall Street banks.” Romney also said if Europe had a financial crisis, he wouldn’t give a blank check, or go over there to save their banks, but then he contradicted himself again, saying he would take action, if all of the economies of the entire world were collapsing, because we would need to prevent a contagion from affecting U.S. banks.

While the banks survived thanks to the bailouts, we have no way of knowing for sure what would have happened if the government had done nothing. At the very least, several major institutions would have closed their doors, and it is likely the entire economy would have sustained major seizures. Instead of 10% out of work, the country may have confronted a 25% unemployment rate, and people would have been asking why no intervention was taken.

In retrospect, the bank bailouts were appropriate to get the big institutions through their perilous moment, provided the loans extended by the government are now fully repaid, with interest.

Since the big banks were “too big to fail,” the government made the correct decision to save them, but now that the crisis has ended, it’s time to break them up, under new antitrust laws, so if we face a similar situations in the future, we will be able to let much smaller downsized institutions simply go under.

05/16/2012

Antitrust: Tougher Simpler Laws Needed

The problem of banks “too big to fail” was addressed in the Republican Presidential debates, as Gov. Huntsmann argued they set the nation up for a long-term disaster. He noted six banks control 9.4 trillion dollars, or 60 to 65% of GDP, with implicit taxpayer guarantees of protection. While he suggested they be “right-sized,” or reduced to a “proper size,” no one in the Republican Party openly advocated the filing of federal antitrust actions against these institutions, to bust them up.

President Obama should direct his Antitrust Division at the Justice Department to file lawsuits against all banks “too big to fail” to break them up, since they need to be able to go under, without taxpayer bailouts, to protect our system from harm. He should simultaneously ask Congress to amend the antitrust laws so market shares of 10% or more become presumptively illegal. The antitrust exemption for insurance companies should also be ended.

“Antitrust” arose late in the 19th Century, when big corporations, managed by trusts, operated free of government regulation, and controlled prices by eliminating competition. A populist one-issue Anti-Monopoly Party first appeared in the 1884 Presidential election, and the Democrats soon co-opted their platform.

The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 made monopolies, contracts in restraint on trade, and attempts to monopolize, illegal. In Standard Oil (1911), the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of Standard upon finding they unreasonably affected interstate commerce, by destroying competition and restraining trade.

Antitrust law was strengthened under the Clayton Act (1914), which in part was to stop companies from becoming monopolistic in the first place, by prohibiting mergers that “substantially lessen competition.” The Federal Trade Commission (1914) was added to investigate antitrust violations, and to seek enforcement.

Problems arose in antitrust prosecutions in terms of how to define “market share.” Are coffee and tea in competition with each other? Are banks and derivative brokers in the same market? Geographic issues also posed problems. What geographic area is involved? Do we examine just Wall Street, all U.S. institutions, or only international banks? How much control leads to a monopoly? While 90% is clearly monopolistic, what about 60%, or market shares of less than 30%?

Since the crash of 2008, it is now time for Congress to revise the antitrust laws to expand their scope, and make the breakup of companies “too big to fail” much easier. They should declare market shares of 10% or more per se illegal, so competition is enhanced, and the risk of failure is reduced.

They should also eliminate the antitrust “exemption” enjoyed by insurance companies. The bailout of the American International Group (AIG), a multi-national insurance corporation, was done because it was “too big to fail.” The nation cannot afford the risk posed by such oversized entities. There is no rational reason for their antitrust exemption and they must be busted up.

It is time to break up corporations without the need to prove anything, except a market share of 10% or more. Since the Republicans will never approve of any regulations, the Democratic Party and President Obama will have to take the lead.

01/13/2012

Huntsman: Why New Hampshire Surge?

Former Rep. Utah Gov. John Huntsman, who lived overseas four times while serving Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., and most recently Obama, as U.S. Ambassador to China, finished third in the New Hampshire Republican primary, and is now a serious contender, primarily because of his foreign policy.

FOREIGN POLICY: Huntsman said we need to leave lingering Cold War thinking behind. While some UN members are anti-American, he said, the organization serves a useful peacekeeping and humanitarian purpose. We should not use water-boarding, as he labeled it torture. He said it diminishes our standing in the world as to human rights. We must balance individual liberties and security, and project America’s goodness.

AFGHANISTAN: Huntsman said we need an honest conversation about our sacrifices in Afghanistan the past 10 years. We listened to the generals in 1967, but that didn’t serve our interests. At the end of the day, he said, the President, not the generals, must decide as Commander-in-Chief. He made clear it’s time to leave Afghanistan, as only the Afghans can save their own country. While security is still lacking, it is time to come home, he said, since we achieved our objectives. We drove the Taliban out of Kabul, dismantled al-Qaeda, held elections in 2004, and killed Osama bin Laden. We should not do nation-building with 100,000 troops, as 10,000 to 15,000 troops, with Special Forces and drones can gather the intelligence we need.

IRAN: Huntsman predicted sanctions will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, because Russia and China are not going to play ball. In a contradictory way, he said our foreign policy in the Mideast is to insure Iran does not go nuclear.

PAKISTAN: Huntsman said only Pakistan can save Pakistan. His concern is they have 160 million people and 100 nuclear weapons. They have troubles along their border, and risk becoming a failed state, due to the Midrasha Movement. Expanded drones over Pakistan would serve our interests, he said.

ARAB SPRING—SYRIA—BAHRAIN–LIBYA: He said the American interest in Syria is called Israel. He would remind the world what it means to be our ally. He accused President Obama of missing the Persian Spring in Bahrain, saying he failed on that front. On the other hand, he felt we had no interest in Libya.

TRADE: If we apply trade sanctions against China, Huntsman worried, we will get the same in return, because we also manipulate our currency, and a trade war will only hurt our exports. He said we cannot sue China in the WTO over currency issues. He warned Europe is second only to Canada as a U.S. export market, and if they go down, the problem will spread to us.

BANKS/ANTITRUST: Huntsman appeared to be concerned about “too big to fail” and wants a proper size for banks. We must address the problem of banks being too big to fail, because they are setting us up for a long-term disaster. He said six institutions have 9.4 trillion or 60 to 65% of our GDP, with unfair implied taxpayer guarantees of protection. They need to be “right-sized,” he said. The banks must pay to take the risk away from taxpayers.

CORPORATE WELFARE: Huntsman said we should not bail out corporations, because we spent trillions with nothing to show for it. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As to those protesting against Wall Street, he wants to be the President of the 99%, as well as the 1%, but disagreed with anti-capitalism messages made by some in the crowd.

JOBS: Huntsman thinks we can create jobs for the 15 million who are unemployed through regulatory reform, repealing Obamacare, tax changes, energy independence, and ending corporate welfare.

IMMIGRATION: Huntsman reminded listeners legal immigration is a growth engine. Two of his seven children, from India and China, help him see the issue through their eyes. He said the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. is down due to the economy. While Utah governor, he gave Drivers Licenses to illegal aliens.

AUTO INDUSTRY: Huntsman thinks we can regain our industrial base by lowering taxes and lessening regulations. He did not think the 68 billion dollar auto bailout was a good use of taxpayer money. Americans are sick and tired of bailouts, he said.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT: He wants energy independence, but thinks we can’t use wind or sun right now. He would develop natural gas to get rid of our heroin-like addiction to imported oil. The true cost of oil and gas, he said, includes federal spending to keep the Persian Gulf sea lanes open. He accused the EPA of running a “reign of terror.”

BUDGET/DEBT: Huntsman would never let the U.S. default on our debt, which he labeled a cancer, but we have to have an honest conversation about our sacred cows, as everything has to be on the table, including the 650 billion dollar Defense Budget. If we do not, he warned, we will soon look like Europe. He explained: Greece has a 170% debt to GDP; Italy: 120% to GDP; Japan: 100% to GDP; and ours is 70% debt to GDP, and it is moving up. A 70% debt-to-GDP ratio is a national security problem, which will cause us to stop growing, as it gets too high.

TAXES: Huntsman said this is the worst time to raise taxes. He would lower tax brackets to 8%, 14%, and 22%. He would phase out loopholes and deductions for individuals, as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. He would also phase out corporate welfare and subsidies. As Utah governor, he delivered on a flat-tax. He refused to sign a no-tax-hike pledge.

HEALTH: Huntsman said the government’s health care approach is wrong, because it contains a costly individual mandate. He warned the IRS is gearing up with 19,500 employees to administer the mandate. He delivered on health care reform in his state, he said, without a mandate. We need truly affordable insurance by addressing health care cost containment. We have to get costs out of the system. Half of health care spending is nonsense, he said. He wants a health care solution that works in the market. We need affordable health insurance to reduce the number of uninsured. Patients need to be empowered. The Ryan plan puts everything on the table, he said. He would send Medicaid back to the states. He would let the states experiment.

EDUCATION: He thinks early childhood literacy is important, but wants education local, and he would send it back to the states, with no unfunded mandates.

EQUALITY: Huntsman does not bash gays, and accepts civil unions. He asked fellow Republicans to do better on equality.

JUSTICE: Huntsman limited his approval of Supreme Court Justices to just Roberts and Alito.

12/06/2011

Perry Should Not Be President

Texas Gov. Perry should not become the Republican nominee for President or VP, because his foreign policy would destroy the UN, violate international law, and expand our military role in the world. Perry does not understand economics. He would refuse to use Fiscal Policy during economic downturns. He would repeal corporate regulations that protect us all, and would not bust up entities too big to fail. His solution is to lower taxes for the rich, and increase them for the poor, by imposing a flat tax of 20% on all. He would not promote solar, but would instead advance gas and nuclear energy. On social issues, he would wreck Social Security Retirement, as we know it, by privatizing it. He would turn health care over to the states, and end federal Medicare and Medicaid. He would abolish the federal Dept of Education. On the issues, Texan Rick Perry simply does not deserve our vote.

FOREIGN POLICY: Perry asked why we contribute to the UN, and promised to defund it, a pledge that should work against him. He would use foreign aid to bribe recipients into approving U.S. foreign policy, right or wrong. Even though no nation attacked the U.S., or was named in a Congressional Declaration of War, Perry believes we are involved in a real war, and thinks nations at war have a right to use “enhanced interrogation techniques” to gather information, even though the Geneva Conventions we used in many previous conflicts, ban torture during wartime. Perry also has no reservation about continuing the use of Guantanamo Bay.

MIDEAST: Perry does not seem to realize America’s bipartisan foreign policy is dictated by Israel’s desire to disarm all Muslim countries in the Mideast, North Africa, and Asia. He is ignorant of the history of the Palestinian people, as he said their desire to seek statehood in the UN was a travesty. He would engage the U.S. in a No-Fly Zone over Syria. He would impose sanctions against Iran, and would shut down their economy, even though they did no harm to us. He actually thinks Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, are at work in Mexico, drawing up plans to come across our border.

ASIA: Perry lacks a vision of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He thought we are making progress in Afghanistan and wants to “complete the mission,” but failed to define what it is. After our nebulous mission is completed, he wants to maintain a presence, but failed to explain why. He opposes a timetable for withdrawal, saying it would telegraph a departure, but did not mention why that would be so bad. He never explained the point of staying in Afghanistan. As to neighboring Pakistan, ostensibly our ally, he said they can’t be trusted, and he wouldn’t give them a penny, until they showed they had our best interests in mind, even though Pakistan is a nuclear power we cannot alienate.

IMMIGRATION: Perry correctly placed blame on the federal government for not securing the 1,200-mile Texas border. He said it would take 15 years and 30 billion to build a fence. Since it is unrealistic to maintain a wall from Brownsville to El Paso, he recommended strategic fencing where it matters, and predator drones to direct boots on the ground. He opposed amnesty for illegals, and said businesses who hire them must be punished.

ECONOMY: Perry does not seem to have a handle on economics. He proclaimed the death of Keynesian fiscal policies for dealing with economic problems. He should have instead recognized that Fiscal Policy is sometimes necessary during economic downturns.

ANTITRUST: “If a company is too big to fail,” Perry said, “it is too big,” but then he failed to go to the next step, by promising to break up big corporations under federal Antitrust law.

JOBS: Perry wants to do away with regulations, because he thinks they kill American jobs, but he failed to identify any specific ones he would eliminate. While he said he wants to focus on the unemployed, he provided no plan for lowering joblessness. He thinks people will risk capital if taxes are lowered, and that will create employment, but President Bush tried that, and yet millions lost their jobs under his watch. Perry showed his true opposition to working people, by promising to eliminate the TSA union.

MANUFACTURING: Although Perry said he wants to bring manufacturing back, he failed to explain how he would do it. His proposal to eliminate the Commerce Dept. would certainly not help.

ENERGY: Perry rightly said we should not rely on oil producing countries. Without government subsidies, he thinks 1.2 million jobs could be created, through energy independence. He would repeal regulations that affect the energy industry, and would eliminate the Energy Dept. He would not invest in solar, like Obama did, but instead supports nuclear, saying France gets 70% of their energy from it. He thinks climate change is not science.

SOCIAL SECURITY: Perry is bad news for the seniors of the future. He considers SS a Ponzi Scheme, saying it was wrong from the very beginning. He thinks it’s a lie to tell young people they will receive benefits. In his book, he wrote it should not be a federal program. He would privatize it, and essentially destroy it.

HEALTH CARE: Perry would also repeal federal health care, by giving block grants to the states for Medicare, and letting them administer it, changes that would ultimately get the federal government out. Perry opposed Romney’s and Obama’s approach, saying people don’t want mandates. As to prescription drugs, he disagreed with President Bush for establishing Medicare Part D, but would not now repeal that unfunded budget busting program.

EDUCATION He would eliminate the federal Dept. of Education.

BUDGET-TAXES: Perry thinks a Balanced Budget Amendment is needed. He said we raise taxes, but don’t get spending down. He promised not to spend money we don’t have. He opposed Cain’s 999 tax plan. He said Texas has a 6.25% sales tax and no state wants a 9% federal sales tax on top of it. He would instead impose a flat tax of 20% on all personal and corporate incomes.