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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Taxes

What Gov. Jerry Brown said on national TV: 'The Democrats have to wake up'

Democrat California Governor Jerry Brown with wife Anne Gust, file

Transcript of California Gov. Jerry Brown on 'State of the Union,' as provided by CNN

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": Governor, first of all, thank you so much for joining us.  I wanted you to take a California look at what's been going on in Washington.  We have just finished up a very grueling debt debate.  From your perspective, what did that tell you about Washington?

GOV. JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA:  Well, the obvious, that's it's dysfunctional, but more than that, that the Washington of today is suffering and experiencing a governability crisis.America can't govern when you have two parties so diametrically opposed. I think that is an ominous sign going forward. 

CROWLEY:  Do you have a solution for that, because I think you're right, I think people look....

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Geithner agrees to stay at Treasury, continue Obama's amazing economic policies

Treasury secretary tim Geithner

Finally, some promising economic news in what has been a steady recent stream of dismal data and developments:

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner has agreed to stay in the Obama administration.

The master of finance who has so successfully assisted President Obama in boosting the national debt by more than $3 trillion, driving unemployment back north of 9% by spending only $787 billion in stimulus funds, corroding consumer confidence and presiding over the first federal credit downgrading in history has agreed to stick around to continue his impressive work for this Democratic administration.

Geithner is the sole survivor of President Obama's opening economic team. Obama is reported pleased.

So are Republicans. Rumors that Geithner planned to leave government after helping to prolong the debt debate had worried the GOP that Obama might pick a competent replacement who could have a positive economic effect before next summer when voters' impressions start hardening for the fall election.

To ensure the 49-year-old Geithner stayed, Republicans from Michele Bachmann to Speaker John Boehner have vociferously called for his firing. The White House confirmed Geithner's continued employment and Sunday he said, "I love my work."treasury secretary tim Geithner 8-11

Geithner added,"We still have a lot of work to do." Which could be a promise or threat.

Recent polls found Obama losing ground against any Republican opponent. The continued tenure of a treasury secretary who couldn't file his own accurate income taxes before being appointed should only help further.

Speaking of polls, a new one out late Sunday, widely overlooked amid concerns with sagging Asian financial markets after the U.S. downgrade, indicates an ominous disconnect between likely voters and those people they elected to government, on all sides.

Rasmussen Reports finds that only 17% currently think the federal government is operating with the consent of the governed. The fundamental question stems from the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Nearly seven-in-ten likely voters (69%) say the current government does not have such consent -- and 14% say they are undecided or, more likely, don't know what any of it means.

That 17% is down from 23% as recently as May and is the lowest ever measured.

The results align with polls showing the job approval of Congress also at record lows -- 61% now rank its job as poor, a 9 point jump since June. In June, 8% appraised Congress' job as good or excellent; that number is now only 6%, basically down to the members themselves, their families and staff.

Members now on another month-long recess may hear some of this back home. But the continued pattern of profound unhappiness with all sides could be an early storm warning for any incumbent next year.

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 -- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Alex Wong / Getty Images (Geithner); Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images (Geithner).

Q&A with FBN's Gerri Willis on the downgrade and what you should do

   Gerri-Willis-Fox-Business

Congress and President Obama came to a debt-ceiling deal at the 11th hour early last week, but that didn't prevent a sharp market drop on Thursday and Standard & Poor's downgrading of the nation's credit rating late Friday.

Gerri Willis is the host of the daily "The Willis Report" on Fox Business Network, an author and veteran reporter on financial issues for CNN and Smart Money magazine before joining FBN last year.

Tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific she has a two-hour edition on both FBN and the Fox News Channel with a panel of experts to monitor the opening of the international markets after last week's political and financial upheaval and preview what's ahead for U.S. investors.

The Ticket checked in with Willis for some advice and a preview:

Ticket: What exactly happened in the international markets last Thursday that caused the sharp downturn?

Willis: Thursday's U.S. market rout was sparked by fears that Europe could be unsuccessful in addressing its long-term debt issues associated with Greece and Italy especially. Comments from Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and European Union officials didn't provide much reassurance.

That got the ball rolling -- on a day when traders were having second thoughts about the value of the debt deal that Congress and the President had signed into law; as well as the fact that first half GDP growth had been reported as weak.

Keep in mind, though, that that 512-point decline although the 10th biggest drop in the Dow's history, didn't even rank when you considered the drop in percentage terms. It was....

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Top creditor China delivers unexpected fiscal demands to U.S. after historic credit downgrade

Obama greets China's premier Wen Jiabao 11-18-09

For months now late-night comedians have joked about China being the United States' largest creditor, more than $1.2 trillion in loans held by that country.

"Here's how bad our credit is now," Jay Leno said this week. "President Obama just asked China for another loan. But they won't give it to him unless his mother-in-law co-signs."

No more jokes now.

Following Friday's unprecedented credit downgrade of the federal government by Standard & Poor's (from AAA to AA+ with a negative outlook), China's official voice, the New China News Agency, demanded Saturday that America "learn to live within its means." And it suggested the U.S. might want to reduce its military defense spending further to make timely payments.

The agency's official commentary added:

China, the largest creditor of the world's sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States to address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China's dollar assets.

Merit aside, Americans are unaccustomed to such demands by other countries. Any national embarrassment or resentment could take the form of further damage to President Obama's job approval, now in the low forties, Americans' sense that the country is on the wrong track, now 66%, and on the Democrat's reelection chances on Nov. 6, 2012.Obama poses onm China's Great Wall 11-09

No immediate reaction from the White House in the predawn hours of Saturday.

However, in his weekly remarks released minutes ago, the president indicated he may have missed the point of weeks of budget-cutting negotiations, that "while deficit reduction has to be part of our economic strategy, it’s not the only thing we have to do."

Earlier in the week, after he signed the debt ceiling-budget cut plan, the Democrat outlined major new spending programs on infrastructure repairs and clean energy.

After a fundraising trip to Chicago this week and a pair of White House birthday parties for Obama's 50th, the president is spending the weekend at Camp David for a mini-vacation.

Vice President Joe Biden is also taking a few days off. But he is scheduled to depart on a three-nation Asian trip Aug. 16 with stops in Japan, Mongolia and China for meetings with Vice President Xi Jinping, Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao.

Perhaps not surprisingly for China, which maintains a running, if sometime unspoken military competition with the United States, the commentary suggested that the giant Asian, loan-holding nation might be right to expect even further major reductions in U.S. defense spending to help pay off its existing debts to China.

The article warned:

If no substantial cuts were made to the U.S. gigantic military expenditure and bloated social welfare costs, the downgrade would prove to be only a prelude to more devastating credit rating cuts, which will further roil the global financial markets.

Let's see if the volatile topic of reducing American military might to suit its Chinese creditors erupts during Thursday's Republican debate in Iowa, in advance of next Saturday's Ames Straw Poll.

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The U.S. and China: 'A spirit of cooperation that's also friendly competition'

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-- Andrew Malcolm

No debt necessary to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: David Gray / Reuters (Obama greets Chinese Premier Wen Jibao, 2009); Charles Dharapak / Associated Press (Obama poses on China's Great Wall, Nov. 2009).

Dow Jones plunges 512 points; but don't worry, President Obama's birthday parties unaffected

New York Stock Exchange traders react to the market's plunge on president obama's birthday, 8-4-11

Uh, what in the world is going on here?

That humongous hard-fought debt ceiling deal that was supposed to settle things down in D.C. financially and politically seems to be doing precisely the opposite there and now around the world. And all within 48 hours.

Europe isn't buying the deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged almost 513 points today, erasing all of its gains this year, as fears grew of yet another recession before most people believed the first one was ovObama celebrates his birthday in chicago aug 3 11er. This White House returned to SOP immediately anyway. And George W. Bush is nowhere in sight to blame for this one.

Could Texas Rep. Ron Paul be right again?  He said: "You don’t get out of the problem of having too much debt by allowing Congress to spend a lot more."

Former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson, who served on Obama's deficit commission, explained the financial battering of the U.S. as similar to crises in Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Italy.

"It is a global, global economy," he said to Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel. "It is so different from anything we have ever had in our whole history, and all of these countries have this trajectory of deficit and interest which is unconscionable and unsustainable."

Here's what the world was witnessing as it hoped to see this country start controlling its craving for fiscal cheeseburgers and fries for every meal:

Obama was so pleased with the bipartisan deal to control spending and cut the nation's $14.3 trillion national debt that he signed it in private. Within hours he was talking about spending much more on bridges, roads, clean energy and unemployment extensions.

Despite his sagging poll numbers, Obama then resumed fundraising for his reelection. He flew to Chicago for a $35,800-per-plate dinner that raised millions. He gave a 22-minute oration that still blamed what's-his-face the Texas guy from nearly three years ago, did not contain the word retrenchment and was widely applauded by Windy City fans.Obama Birthday celebrated with a Hat at Mme Tussauds wax museum

Dick Durbin, another Illinois Democrat and the Senate's No. 2 ruling leader, said he's not giving up the fight for new taxes for government to spend. He wants on the new super Congress panel.

Vice President Joe Biden was out of public sight back at his Delaware home for a couple of days.

Obama's Press Secretary Jay Carney was pummeled today with questions on exactly what the president was doing to stop rising unemployment, restore consumer confidence and take control of what appears a chaotic Washington scene. Here's his reply;

"He is working very closely with his senior economic advisers to come up with new proposals to help advance growth and job creation."

Which, actually, is what many people thought the president had been doing all along during these 926 days of his presidency. To little economic effect, so far.

Carney also said Obama has planned several trips to talk with Americans about things. Sites include northern Virginia, the Midwest for a three-day bus tour and Michigan next week to talk about clean energy again.

The stock market plunge, however, was not expected to affect the White House's next pair of parties, a staff gathering this afternoon and another this evening with more friends and family to celebrate the aging Obama's well-documented birth a half-century ago today.

To help mark the happy occasion Michelle Obama sent out an email to millions of her husband's supporters. She didn't directly ask for money or mention the nation's ongoing financial troubles. She asked instead for people to sign an e-book of birthday wishes that the campaign is compiling, which will require leaving contact information.

"Every day," she said, "I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That's no small task for anyone -- and more proof that he's earning every last one of those gray hairs."

Just what every hubby wants to hear.

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Smiles on Capitol Hill but more bad poll news for the White House

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Mario Tama / Getty Images (New York Stock Exchange traders react to the market's plunge on President Obama's birthday, Aug. 4); Jim Young / Reuters (happy Obama at his first 50th birthday in Chicago); Win McNamee / Getty Images (Obama's birthday celebrated with a party hat at Madame Tussaud's wax museum).

 

Bipartisan debt deal draws bipartisan flak from Limbaugh, Krugman, Beck--and a Gallup warning

Harry Reid not so happy Monday after Debt reduction agreement 8-1-11

No wonder top Senate Democrat Harry Reid wants a quick vote on the bipartisan deficit reduction agreement:

Less than 24 hours in, opposition is jelling quickly. And it too is bipartisan.

Oh, and a new Gallup Poll now gives President Obama his lowest weekly approval rating ever.

Sunday night was all about legislators, who love making deals, having made a deal after making it look hard for weeks. Monday is all about explaining it. At least $2.1 trillion in spending cuts sounds good to many.

But wait, what? Cut $350 billion from defense? In this day and age. With a community patrol officer as president launching protective military attacks against Libya over what its dictator might do to civilians, while Syria's regime actually does kill them by the hundreds and draws wimpy warnings?joe Biden smiles again on capitol hill 8-1-11

Some might see bipartisan unhappiness with the budget deal as a sign of a genuine compromise. Others that it might be doomed. And they could both be right.

Top radio talker Rush Limbaugh points out the maximum $2.4-trillion debt increase would be the largest increase in U.S. history on top of the previous largest increase ever ($1.9 trillion), both by the pen of Obama. Limbaugh predicts Obama will cite a failure of cuts next year and return to his tax increase demands.

Glenn Beck, who also doesn't hold elective office, pronounces:

Don’t be fooled. We’ve just been betrayed by Washington. A deal on the debt ceiling is near and Washington still hasn’t gotten serious about the fundamentals. It hasn’t gotten serious about default. It certainly hasn’t gotten serious about the future. When Harry Reid hails a “bipartisan compromise” you know we’re doomed.

Republicans and Democrats have just negotiated away the future of our children behind closed doors. The big compromise on Capitol Hill features elaborate triggers, tranches, Hornswogglers, Snozzwangers, Super Duper Commissions that will make the Snozzberries taste like Snozeberries, and a whole bunch of other convoluted gibberish that will, no doubt, come with loopholes and create entire new bureaucracies.

What it doesn’t do is fix the problem.

Over on the left, the White House was busy this afternoon trying to calm angry progressives such as bearded talker Paul Krugman. He says Obama surrendered and folded, and he urges a "no" vote on the "disaster."

Firedoglake is organizing calls to Congress to denounce especially the unconstitutional "super Congress" soon to be making further cuts outside the purview of other elected members.

And libertarian-like Texas Rep. Ron Paul joins Krugmen in blasting the agreement for its false promises. Do we hear a can being kicked down the road yet again?

On the polling front, Gallup this afternoon released a new survey finding Obama's weekly job approval is now at 42%, one point lower than his previous lowest.

Such a deal for everyone.

RELATED:

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Obama loses ground against any Republican opponent

Smiles on Capitol Hill but more bad poll news for the White House

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg (Reid); Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images (Joe Biden smiles gamely on Capitol Hill, Aug. 1).

The Obama-Boehner debt talks: Where common sense ain't so common

John Boehner Obama and Harry Reid happily meet in Deficit Talks 7-23-11

In a local government cabinet meeting some years ago, the elected official asked his veteran budget expert what the public revenue and expense forecasts were for the next quarter.

The budget expert began rummaging in his notes and inquired, "What do you want them to be?"

There was dead silence around the shiny table until the savvy budget guy smiled. He'd captured the essence of many government numbers.

We're reminded of that revealing episode in recent days by the Howdy Doody Show playing out in our nation's capitol over the phony debt ceiling and the sham cuts and numerical maneuverings, as if they were the issues at hand instead of the genuine struggle for dominant political position come Nov. 6, 2012.

An American spectator these days need not be a tea sipper to conclude that most of....

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Donald Trump tells GOP to force a default so Obama isn't reelected

Trump

Donald Trump has some interesting advice for the Republican Party. The New York real estate tycoon went on "Fox & Friends" Monday morning and told the hosts that if the GOP wants to ensure that President Obama isn't reelected, all it has to do is not make any deals with Democrats and default on Aug. 2.

Trump seems to think that using the country's sparkling AAA credit rating as a sacrificial lamb and letting the nation default would damage Obama, who has been willing to put everything including entitlements on the table, more than it would hurt Republicans who have stubbornly refused to raise revenues on the richest Americans and companies during the debt ceiling negotiations.

"When it comes time to default, they’re not going to remember any of the Republicans’ names. They are going to remember in history books one name, and that’s Obama,” Trump said.

For some reason the boisterous billionaire doesn't seem at all concerned about the damage such an unprecedented U.S. default could do to Wall Street and other financial markets. Trump's casual approach is not shared by financial experts.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington told Money & Co. that if Congress can't get it together, the results could be tragic as banks would slow down on lending and investors might pull their money out of the market.

“If we got to a crush point where we couldn’t come to a deal, that would wipe out the financial sector,” Baker said.

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-- Tony Pierce
twitter.com/busblog

Photo: Real estate mogul Donald Trump speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington on June 3. Credit: Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Weekly remarks: Obama says all must sacrifice; GOP's Jeb Hensarling asks, Where are the jobs?

Democrat president barack Obama enjoys an Oval Office phone call

 

President Obama's weekly remarks, as provided by the White House

For years, the government has spent more money than it takes in.  The result is a lot of debt on our nation’s credit card – debt that unless we act will weaken our economy, cause higher interest rates for families, and force us to scale back things like education and Medicare. 

Now, folks in Washington like to blame one another for this problem. But the truth is, neither party is blameless.  And both parties have a responsibility to do something about it. Every day, families are figuring out how stretch their paychecks – struggling to cut what they can’t afford so they can....

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McCain compares Bachmann to Sen. Obama, compares President Obama to Muhammad Ali

Mccain compares Bachmann to Sen. Obama, compares Pres. Obama to Muhammed Ali

John McCain thinks Republicans like Michele Bachmann and Eric Cantor are doing it wrong in these debt ceiling negotiations with Democrats and should instead be backing Mitch McConnell's creative plan.

In an interview with National Review, McCain compared President Barack Obama to boxing great Muhammad Ali, noting the heavyweight champ's sly strategy of allowing opponents to tire themselves out with relatively harmless body blows only to see an energized Ali rally in later rounds for the deciding knockout.

“It seems to some of us that the president, all along, was sort of playing rope-a-dope,” McCain said. “Not surprisingly, he has ratcheted up the level of tension by saying that he couldn’t guarantee people’s Social Security checks. So of course, the calls have been coming into my office; people are worried. They should be worried when the president of the United States makes a statement like that.”

McCain is concerned that in the House "there are Republicans who are committed, like Michele Bachmann, to vote against raising the debt limit under any circumstances," a stance reminiscent of “Sen. Obama,” he said.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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