House Passes Economic Stimulus

It is interesting how unconcerned Republicans were about the federal deficit the past 28 years but now are suddenly getting religion.  Of course this is when we need deficit spending.  I’ve always opposed balance budget amendments because in times of world war or serious economic depression the country may need deficit spending.  Now is one of those times.

The House passed President Obama’s economic stimulus plan this evening on a mostly party line vote of 244-188.  Eleven Democrats voted against the bill.  Every Republican opposed the plan.  The lone Pennsylvania Democrat to vote NO was Paul Kanjorski who issued this statement:

“I strongly agree that we must stimulate our economy to help it recover from the current crisis,” said Congressman Kanjorski.  “However, considering the magnitude of this program, it is vitally important that the Congress and American people fully understand both the problem and proposed solution.  All Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle needed to provide their input, but unfortunately this was not possible.  I hope that the Senate will make necessary changes to the bill so that I can support it in its final version and help rebuild our economy.  Lastly, I applaud President Obama’s efforts and goals to pass a recovery package.  We have the opportunity to turn our economy around and I look forward to working with him and Congress to improve the current bill.”  

Floor statement:

MR. KANJORSKI.  Madam Speaker, I rise today to offer my thoughts about H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Revitalization Act.

I regret than I cannot support the legislation in its current form.  While I absolutely agree that we must stimulate our economy to help it recover from its troubled state, I am concerned that this bill does not represent an effective plan to ensure our economic recovery.

We face the most challenging economic crisis since the Great Depression, yet this bill merely throws money at the problem by expanding existing programs.  We have not taken the time to fully understand the nature and the full scope of the collapse of our economy, and so we have not taken the time to understand how to target the problems with innovative solutions.  While I recognize the urgency of the situation, we would do better to follow the advice of an old civil engineer friend of mine who often cautioned that to do a job correctly, it is better to go slow in the planning to allow you to go fast in the implementation.

Just one example of the difficulty we will have in getting this money spent well was described in today’s Washington Post, which quoted a state energy office director lamenting how he was going to have to figure out how to spend 35 times as much money as he normally gets in a year, using new funds allocated in this stimulus.  Pennsylvania’s own transportation department has indicated that its “shovel-ready” projects are not so ready that they can be started within the ninety days sought by Transportation Chairman Oberstar, who rightfully is seeking to expedite these funds to get spent as quickly as possible.  Having dealt with publicly-financed projects for more than forty years, I can assure you that numerous federal, state and local regulations will provide numerous obstacles to getting this money spent both quickly and wisely.  I sought to offer an amendment which would have allowed a waiver of many of these restrictions because – to the best of my knowledge – there is no provision in this bill to allow federal administrators to waive regulations under these extraordinary circumstances.  

My Republican colleagues raise a reasonable objection that they were not fully included as the framework of this legislation was constructed.  Perhaps I am one of the few Democrats who will acknowledge publicly that most Democrats were also not included.  This is wrong.  When undertaking the most significant and certainly most expensive program of my Congressional career and maybe in our nation’s history, it is vitally important that all Members of Congress first understand the problem we are addressing and then fully participate in determining how best to solve that problem.  It has been my experience that the most successful policies are those which many minds have constructed.

In addition to Members of Congress fully understanding what we are trying to do and why, it is vitally important in a representative democracy for the American people to understand both the problem and the proposed solution.  We rushed through the so-called TARP program without educating the American people, and they are convinced it was a bailout of Wall Street.  I helped to draft the TARP program and voted for it because I believed that it was absolutely essential that we act immediately, despite the suspicions voiced by my constituents.  The need for an economic stimulus is indeed urgent, but it is not so much of an emergency that we cannot afford to take the time to think so that we can do it right.

No piece of legislation is ever perfect; I recognize that compromise is always necessary to reflect the diverse interests of a country as heterogeneous as ours.  Had we reached this bill through a more orderly, bipartisan basis, I very well may have cast my vote for it.  I still hope that the Senate will make enough necessary corrections that I will be able to support a final version.  Let me now highlight my substantive objections to this bill.

First, infrastructure projects were an initial focus of a recovery package, but that focus has dwindled to just $90 billion out of an $825 billion bill.  For every $1 billion we spend in infrastructure, we create upwards of 30,000 jobs.  It seems to me that this is a proven method of creating jobs and additional funds should be put towards this area of spending.

In addition, from my perspective, we need to focus more on helping those who are unemployed or retired.  While many people are struggling, we must help those without jobs feed their families immediately.  One of the major tax provisions of this bill is the $500 tax credit for individuals and $1,000 for couples.  While this tax credit may provide relief to working families, it will not help individuals who are unemployed since the credit will be provided through a reduction in payroll taxes for workers.

Moreover, I am concerned about the disproportionate impact this bill will have.  Without doubt, much of the funding will go to large urban areas, while areas like my Congressional District which are more rural, will receive much less funding, even though our unemployment rate is higher than the national average.  Residents of my Congressional district are struggling just as much as those living in urban areas.

Finally, a recovery bill should include funding for localities.  Many counties, cities and municipalities across the country are facing significant funding shortfalls as a result of the ongoing economic downturn.  These budget shortfalls have resulted in local officials having to make difficult decisions about cutting jobs, reducing services, or raising taxes on their citizens.

That is why I offered an amendment to H.R. 1 to reinstate a General Revenue Sharing program.  More than 30 years ago, as our country experienced another period of prolonged economic stress, we put in place a General Revenue Sharing grant program.  Between 1972 and 1986, $83 billion was transferred from the federal government under this program.  This funding provided localities with a needed source of revenue for undertaking job-creating infrastructure projects and maintaining public safety networks.  I am disappointed that this amendment was not allowed under the rule.

In closing, I support a recovery package that creates jobs and builds our infrastructure.  Americans and our economy are struggling and we must act to help them.  But, I strongly believe that we can make improvements to this bill so it will be as effective and efficient as possible in restoring our economy and helping Americans.

Kanjorski To Co-Host CNBC’s Squawkbox

From the inbox, this should be interesting watching since Kanjo is a financial expert:

KANJORSKI TO CO-HOST CNBC’S SQUAWK BOX ON MONDAY FOR THREE HOURS

WHAT: On Monday, January 19, Congressman Kanjorski (PA-11), the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, will appear on CNBC’s Squawk Box for three hours as a co-host of the program.

Congressman Kanjorski will discuss fixing the economy and the role of financial services in the new Congress, as well as inauguration.

WHEN: Monday, January 19 from 7:00 – 10:00 a.m.

House Passes Lilly Ledbetter Act

The House of Representatives passed the gender equality pay act named for Lilly Ledbetter by a vote of 256-163.  This is the first legislation being passed in anticipation of the inaugural so important new legislation will be ready for Barack Obama’s signature January 20th.

Women earn about 77% of men for the same exact work.  This gender discrimination in the workplace is unfair, penalizes many single households and is morally wrong.  Lilly Ledbetter was a manager with Goodyear who discovered after many years that her company had willfully underpaid her in comparison to men in the same position.  She sued but her case was rejected by the Supreme Court which ruled she hadn’t made a timely complaint.

Lilly Ledbetter didn’t know she was being discriminated against and so couldn’t have filed her lawsuit in accordance with the Court’s wishes.  Millions of women are victims of this discrimination and the new law will correct these injustices.  It was passed by the House last year but was blocked by Republicans from becoming law.

From Congressman Joe Sestak:

“This bill will help workers who have suffered discrimination and help prevent it from occurring,” said the Congressman. “To put an arbitrary limit on when employees can file charges regarding discrimination places an unfair burden on the employees who may not be aware of their rights. This is an easy thing for us to fix and important for gender equality in the workplace. I was disappointed that despite our successful effort to get this legislation through the House last term, the bill did not make any more progress. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to consider this measure promptly.”

In 2007, the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision, Ledbetter v. Goodyear, which makes it much harder for workers to pursue pay discrimination claims.  The Court ruled that since Lilly Ledbetter, a long-time employee of Goodyear, had not filed her charge of pay discrimination within 180 days of her employer’s decision to pay her less, she could not receive any relief.

This bill simply restores the standard interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  Under precedent and the interpretation of the EEOC, every paycheck resulting from an earlier discriminatory pay decision is considered a violation of the Civil Rights Act.  Therefore, as long as a worker files within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges are considered as timely.

If allowed to stand, this Supreme Court decision would severely limit the rights of employees who have been discriminated against in pay, on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.  The Supreme Court ruling limits the ability of workers to sue companies for pay discrimination would dramatically reorder the legal landscape for workers and employers – significantly disadvantaging workers.

Contrary to opponents’ claims, the bill does not eliminate the statute of limitations.  Under this bill, an employee must still file a charge within the statutory filing period after receiving a discriminatory paycheck.  Moreover, employees have no incentive to sit on their rights.  The bill maintains Title VII’s limitation of two years for back pay recovery.  The longer an employee waits, the more back pay is rendered unrecoverable.

The bill provides that its clarification on discriminatory pay violations under the Civil Rights Act also applies under other statutes as well.  It makes clear that every paycheck resulting, in whole or in part, from an earlier discriminatory pay decision in addition to constituting a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, also constitutes a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

In his first term, the Congressman took many steps to make progress on key women’s issues, including the unjust treatment of women-owned businesses. In September he hosted a forum and fair at Pennsylvania State University’s Brandywine Campus to provide information and resources to local businesswomen. The event incorporated business owners, entrepreneurs, and employees in a panel discussion, with an opportunity for attendees to ask questions about ways to enhance their careers. Following the panel, a service fair featured representatives from federal, state and local government agencies, chambers of commerce, microlenders and credit counseling organizations.

This event complemented the District’s first Women’s Summit, which brought House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez to Bryn Mawr to preside over an official Committee Field Hearing on “Challenges Facing Women Small Business Owners.” The hearing was followed by two one-hour panels on issues facing women in the workplace and “success strategies.” In addition, the Congressman brought together women from seven local businesses, in addition to officials from the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Small Business Development Center, Chester Microenterprise and the federal Small Business Administration, for a roundtable discussion on ways the government can provide better services to businesswomen.

“Women business owners do not receive their fair share from the government and it is my job to give my constituents the access they deserve,” said Congressman Sestak. “Between 1997 and 2006, majority women-owned businesses experienced a growth rate nearly twice that of the national average. Yet the more than ten million women-owned firms that make up more than 40 percent of all private businesses in this country receive 3.3 percent of Federal contracts. This forum was a great opportunity for my constituents to network, learn about new resources and discuss the challenges facing female entrepreneurs.”

As the Vice-Chairman of the House of Representatives Small Business Committee, Congressman Sestak worked on a number of key pieces of legislation to help his constituents. To specifically aid businesswomen, he supported the SBA Women’s Business Programs Act, revising the funding formula for Women Business Centers and requiring the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) to conduct a study of the challenges facing women entrepreneurs, with a biannual report on its progress.

Congressman Sestak advocated for other priorities for women, including breast cancer research as he supported increased funding for a Department of Defense peer-reviewed breast cancer research program, as well as a $65 million increase in the National Institute of Health budget for breast cancer treatment, and brought together breast cancer survivors and patient care advocates for a discussion to consider the challenges to appropriate care faced by patients, family members, and treatment providers, and explore need changes in legislation. Furthermore, the Congressman worked for full funding for Violence against Women Act (VAWA) programs in the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice.

Additional actions taken by the Congressman to benefit women in business include:

·       Introducing the SBA Trade Programs Act, which helps entrepreneurs overcome dislocations due to global trends through outreach centers, including Women’s Business Centers.

·       Introducing a contract unbundling amendment to the Small Business Fairness in Contracting Act requiring large federal mega-contracts to undergo a bundling analysis to create more opportunities for small businesses. He also submiited an amendment to require market research for Department of Defense contracts greater than $1 million in value.

·       Introducing the Small Business Entrepreneurial Development Programs Act to enhance two critical Small Business Administration (SBA) Entrepreneurial Development programs:  Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), including Women Business Development Centers, and the Service Corps for Retired Executives (SCORE).

·       Voting for the Small Business Contracting Program Improvements Act, which makes changes to the Small Business Administration’s federal contracting programs that will open up new opportunities for small businesses, including women, veteran and minority-owned firms.

·       Voting for the Small Business Lending Improvements Act, which provides small businesses with tools to encourage entrepreneurial innovation, including making 7(a) loans more economical. Although it is the goal of the federal government to have 23 percent of its contracts go to small businesses, only 6.7 percent of government contracts in Pennsylvania’s Seventh District go to small businesses.

·       Voting for the Small Business Investment Expansion Act, which reforms SBA programs to assist small business owners with obtaining investment capital necessary to start or grow their operations and improves access to venture capital and angel investments for these entrepreneurs.

·       Sponsoring a Women in Business Advisory Committee made up of 16 professional business women from our community.

Members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation voted thusly:

For the bill:

Altmire

Brady

Carney

Dahlkemper

Doyle

Fattah

Holden

Kanjorski

Murphy (Patrick)

Murtha

Schwartz

Sestak

Voting against women:

Dent

Gerlach

Murphy (Tim)

Pitts

Platts

Shuster

Thompson

Kanjorski Gets AIG to Cut Bonuses

This is why we needed to return Paul Kanjorski to Congress:  he and Congressman Joseph Crowley got AIG to back off giving their employees $93.3 million in bonuses after receiving billions in taxpayer bailout funds.  Taxpayers don’t want their hard earned dollars going into the bank accounts of executives of a failed corporation.  It is an outrage that AIG even considered spending these funds after lavishing bailout money on a luxury spa retreat.  These folks simply don’t get that they aren’t a private company anymore.  They are answerable to the people of this nation now and must act in accordance with that reality.

“I am very pleased AIG will revise their deferred compensation payout plan in response to the concerns raised by myself and Congressman Kanjorski, and I look forward to continuing to work with them as they further restructure and responsibly repay – with interest – the taxpayers,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley. “We are experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and significant steps must be taken to put our economy back on track. Taxpayer dollars used in this effort must, however, be used carefully and responsibly. While the Bush Administration has not adequately monitored how the federal recovery funding is being used, I have no doubt the President-elect Obama and the newly-sworn in Congress will expand oversight over AIG and the other recipients of federal TARP funding to ensure our tax dollars are used properly.”

In November, AIG announced that it would terminate fourteen deferred compensation plans and pay out those plans to help retain key employees.  Deferred compensation plans allow an employee to receive a portion of his income at a later date than when it is actually earned.  In AIG’s case, employees would receive these payments after they retired or left AIG.  In order to discourage key employees from leaving AIG, it decided to terminate some deferred compensation plans and to pay out some $367 million during the first quarter of 2009.  Though conceived by AIG executives, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department both reviewed this accelerated payout of $367 million in deferred compensation before the public announcement of a final plan.  Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department did not thoroughly vet AIG’s plan.

Following AIG’s November announcement, Congressmen Kanjorski and Crowley contacted AIG to determine details of the accelerated payout of the deferred compensation plans, including the number and salaries of individuals who would benefit from these actions.  By cooperating with the Congressmen’s request, AIG realized that more than $90 million of the payouts would have gone to former employees and agents, and therefore would have no impact on retaining key personnel.  AIG volunteered to revise its payout plan so that it no longer applies to former employees and agents.

In responding to Congressmen Kanjorski and Crowley’s concerns about the payout plans, AIG also identified $3 million that would go to several of the top seventeen AIG executives who are subject to limits on compensation under the economic rescue package which was enacted on October 3.  At the Congressmen’s urging, AIG agreed to revise its payout plan so that it does not apply to the top seventeen executives, resulting in a total of $93.3 million that will no longer be paid out at this time.

Starting this past fall, the federal government provided more than $150 billion in financial aid to AIG.  Under AIG’s agreement with the federal government, it will reimburse taxpayers for the money it borrowed plus interest.  It is in the taxpayers’ best interest that this money be repaid.

“While I commend AIG for cooperating with our inquiry, I still have many questions about the developments that led to a federal rescue of AIG, and the Federal Reserve’s and the Treasury’s ongoing oversight, or lack thereof, of that intervention,” said Congressman Kanjorski.  “This case provides a prime example of how a minimal review of AIG can result in a better use of taxpayer money.”

Due to the lack of oversight from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department, this week Congressmen Kanjorski and Crowley will send a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr. asking that they explain what system of review and oversight has been established for AIG and why this oversight system approved $93.3 million in questionable “retention” payouts to senior AIG executives and former AIG employees and agents.

Sestak, Altmire Opposing Congressional Pay Raise

Joe Sestak is one of those reformers leading an effort in Congress to roll back the automatic pay raise this year.  The cost of living increases are scheduled every year so Members of Congress don’t have to face opponents who claim they voted to raise salaries.  It’s a very dishonest method for lawmakers to cash in without accountability.  Congressman Sestak introduced a bill last year that never saw the light of day.  He is now introducing another bill for 2010.

“With a year-old recession continuing, more than 500,000 jobs lost last November alone and the news of a projected $1.2 trillion deficit, allowing this salary increase to continue next year is not good government,” said Congressman Sestak. “Many of my constituents, and millions of Americans, are experiencing particularly difficult times right now in part because of the failures of the federal government to conduct proper oversight, such as in the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as financial institutions on Wall Street. I am confident that this Congress will pursue a proper stimulus package, comprehensive housing legislation and a continuation of the accountable approach to business in general as we worked to do in the last Congress. However, we should not accept an increase in the taxpayer money we receive until we provide consistent, concrete results to the taxpayers that show we are turning the economy around.”

Preventing a pay increase is in line with the Congressman’s themes for all of his work in Washington and the District: accountability, transparency and bipartisanship. The Congressman has particularly emphasized these principles with regard to the economic crisis. He has emphasized the importance of a bipartisan stimulus package to avoid having a much more severe, protracted recession in 2009 than would otherwise occur.  Effort is needed to restore the building blocks for sustaining current employment and creating new, high value jobs for the future. At the same time, he believes we need to spend stimulus money most effectively to target the needs likely to provide the highest benefit across the broader economy in the near future, such as job creation in the renewable energy and infrastructure industries.

To ensure accountability, the Congressman has been involved in Congressional hearings examining the root causes and effects of the turmoil in our economy and has written to Secretary Paulson noting that the “restoration of public confidence in our governmental and financial institutions can not begin until the American taxpayers see consistent enforcement of the oversight provisions – and behavior from the financial institutions acknowledging that many of them share the responsibility for the economic crisis that has engulfed our country and the rest of the global economy.” Therefore, it is most incumbent upon Congress to ensure full transparency through accountable oversight of the actions taken by the Federal Government – correcting the absence of these which led to the market’s failure.

Jason Altmire also is opposing the pay raise:

“It is simply outrageous for Members of Congress to vote to give themselves pay raises when millions of Americans are losing their jobs or seeing their paychecks shrink,” Altmire said. “During these hard economic times, it is more important than ever for Congress to make sure every dollar in the federal budget is being used as responsibly and as effectively as possible. Cancelling our own pay raise is the least we can do.”

Kanjorski Leads Madoff Probe

Congressman Paul Kanjorski is heading a Congressional investigation into the $50 billion pyramid scheme hatched and controlled by Bernie Madoff in spite of eight separate SEC audits.  The Securities and Exchange Commission allowed the illegal Ponzi scheme to operate under it snose for decades and numerous charities, non profits and individuals lost billions.

At the same time valuable organizations were closing their doors due to Madoff’s illegal activities he was giving millions of dollars worth of jewelry to family and friends last month.  This is what happens when you’re rich and powerful; you get a “get out of jail free” card and wear an ankle bracelet which allows you to hide your ill gotten gains.  Now efforts are under way to revoke the bail and send this crook to prison.  Finally.

Kanjorski’s Congressional committee is investigating why the SEC failed to uncover the scheme in spite of repeated warnings.  Former GOP Congressman Christopher Cox oversaw this negligence as head of the SEC under a Bush Administration whose ideology was to stop all oversight and regulation.  This is what happens when greed and avarice are allowed to go unchecked.

Congressman Kanjorski made these statements yesterday:

These deeply disturbing events have raised even more troubling questions about the effectiveness of our regulatory system. I have long stressed the need for pursuing comprehensive regulatory reform, and I have convened hearings to advance this initiative. But, before we act on legislation in the 111th Congress to restructure the regulatory system for the financial services industry and enhance investor protection, we need to understand how Mr. Madoff organized his many business operations and how he perpetrated his fraudulent acts.

This elaborate Ponzi scheme fell through the cracks of our regulatory system. From what we have all learned in the press, it now appears that regulators should have detected the Madoff wrongdoing earlier because of the red flags raised by others. Authorities received information about potential problems when outsiders like Mr. Markopolos could not create a model that matched the results of Mr. Madoff’s purported strategy. Others published articles as early as 2001 raising questions about Mr. Madoff’s firm. Other red flags include unrealistically steady investment returns and an auditor the size of a mouse examining a fund the size of an elephant.

Perhaps most shocking, after Mr. Madoff misled government examiners and after he was then forced to register as an investment adviser, the Commission did not conduct any subsequent inspections. Moreover, in its prior examinations, the Commission failed to effectively use its subpoena power to obtain any records other than those voluntarily offered.

In the wake of this unprecedented financial crisis, we now know that our securities regulators have not only missed opportunities to protect investors against massive losses from the most complex financial instruments like derivatives, but they have also missed the chance to protect them against the simplest of scams, the Ponzi scheme. Clearly, our regulatory system has failed miserably and we must rebuild it now.

As we resurrect our regulatory structure, we must ensure that regulators have the resources that they need to get the job done. A former chairman of the Commission, Arthur Leavitt, has noted that the agency’s enforcement unit is chronically understaffed. Whereas it had had 433 people in the office of compliance and examinations looking at 8,000 advisers two years ago, today it has 400 people looking at 11,000 advisers and thousands of mutual funds.

Moreover, the number of investment advisers subject to the Commission’s oversight has doubled since 1997. While we do not yet know if the Commission’s oversight in this case can be blamed on a lack of resources, we can certainly work to make sure adequate staff and powers are available in the future.

We must also take actions to better protect all investors, from elderly widows to sophisticated market participants. There are many ideas on how we can accomplish this objective. The Congress will review these options. In the Madoff case, legal authorities will be tasked with finding a way to help aggrieved investors, too.

Finally, it is important to note that this is a real crisis with real victims. I, for one, was saddened to learn of a gentleman who, because he lost the money of his family and his clients in the Madoff financial scandal, took his own life. Life is always more precious than money. I therefore hope that we will see no more tragic fallout from this messy, sordid affair.

In closing, I thank our witnesses and my colleagues for joining me here today. Together, I hope that we can learn from this terrible event, figure out how we can improve our regulatory structure, and undertake the most substantial rewrite of the laws governing the U.S. financial markets since the Great Depression.

Senate Democrats Block Burris

Senate Democrats blocked Illinois’ appointed U.S. Senator Roland Burris today.  He was not allowed access to the Senate floor on the grounds his credentials are not complete.  The Illinois Secretary of State has refused to sign Burris’ credentials and certify his appointment by disgraced Governor Rod Blogojevich.  This opens the door for Republicans to bar Al Franken on similar grounds and hold up vital legislation.

Reid’s Time Is Up

Harry Reid’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader has been abysmal.  Republicans filibustered almost 90 bills last session and threaten to derail President elect Obama’s entire agenda until the 2010 elections revert them to a very minority Party.  Reid’s performance yesterday on “Meet The Press” was intolerable.  Inconsistent strategy is now allowing the GOP to block seating Al Franken due to Reid’s mishandling of the Burris fiasco.

Is there anything constructive to say for Harry Reid’s tenure as Majority Leader?  What accomplishments have resulted from his being in this role?  He has been the most inept Leader I have any witnessed in all the years I’ve followed politics.

Now he is poised to disgrace Democrats by blocking Roland Burris at the Senate door tomorrow.  Asked by MTP’s David Gregory what his legal foundation for this action is Reid cited The Los Angeles Times.  Honestly he actually cited a newspaper for legal justification.  I cringed while listening to this as I do almost every time Reid opens his mouth and says something new which is stupid.  With a new session it is time for Democrats to elect a new Leader in the Senate.

Auto Industry Begins to Crumble

Chrysler is proceeding with the shutdown of its corporation.  Instead of the usual holiday season slowdown they will shut all 30 manufacturing plants tomorrow for a month.  They may never reopen.  Thirty manufacturing plants hiring thousands of workers earning competitive wages supporting middle class families might well disappear into the ether of Republican ideology which puts busting unions ahead of the country’s economy.

Toyota is also shutting down some production and Honda announced slow sales this month also as the credit crunch is hitting ALL automakers.  Chrysler says sales are down 20-25% because consumers cannot obtain credit for car loans.  The UAW isn’t responsible for the credit crunch Republicans in the White House and Congress are and they have failed abysmally in addressing the core disease afflicting the economy:  housing.

Congress, the Treasury and the White House still have done nothing to help struggling homeowners, those facing foreclosure and the frauds committed in the real estate and mortgage industries which led to the meltdown.  Meanwhile giant engines of our economy are now shutting down accelerating the downward spiral.

Chrysler’s shutting down is more than a canary in the coal mine it’s the explosion of pent up gas.