Bloomberg: Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy
Americans have made progress putting their finances in order and are ready to borrow again – giving the world’s largest economy another driver of spending and growth.
Household net worth soared to a record high in the first quarter, Federal Reserve data show, and the financial-obligations ratio relating consumer debt to income matched the lowest in 33 years. Consumer loans are rising, and the American Bankers Association reports the share of delinquencies on bank cards is the smallest since 1990.
“Household finances are in the best shape in decades,” said Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein … “We now have a creditworthy borrower. It’s a powerful ingredient” ….
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and when the discussion turned to a possible self-imposed budget crisis, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”
What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth – he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public – Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are – or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.
Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, and Ron Teasley, talk outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington following their meeting with President Obama.
A new survey from the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds that Democrat Michelle Nunn is locked in a close battle for the Georgia Senate seat with several of the main potential GOP challengers. This — combined with the fact that the GOP primary is a crowded affair — has Dems looking at this race as a potential firewall: If Dems can somehow win in Georgia (or even Kentucky), Republicans will have to sweep four Dem incumbents out of office to take the Senate.
When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy legislator to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.
The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only eight percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.
President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 6, 2010: The President walks newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan into the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)
Washington Post: Members of the firebrand class of Republican freshmen on Capitol Hill – elected on a pledge to attack the U.S. debt problem – have, in some cases, accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in personal debt, according to financial documents released Wednesday.
Among the 87 new GOP members of Congressmat at least 30 had liabilities totaling $50,000 or more in 2010 …. at least seven had credit card debt exceeding $15,000.
The newcomers have helped press a simple GOP message about the public debt: The country has too much and must reduce its burden immediately. These documents seem to show that, in their private lives, some freshmen took a more nuanced view: Debt could be useful, when put toward furthering ventures in real estate, farming or other businesses.
….Among those with credit card debt was Rep. Blake Farenthold (Tex.), who has pressed for major action to control the national debt. Earlier this year, Farenthold issued a statement rejecting any increase in the debt limit without major spending cuts. “Like the rest of America,” the statement said, ‘the government needs to tighten its belt and work within its means.”
Farenthold’s 2010 disclosure forms show credit card debt of $45,000 to $150,000…
…..Among those with significant debt was Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (R-Tenn.), who had been accused of playing down his debt during the campaign. The disclosure documents show that he is carrying $1.6 million to $6.4 million in loans relating to his family’s 2,500-acre farm in Frog Jump, Tenn.
President Obama greets 9/11 families and elected officials from the New York area at Ground Zero
A signed message from President Obama is seen on a pamphlet during his meeting with 9/11 family members
Paul Krugman: After reading John Yoo’s attack on the president for not taking Osama alive and bringing him to Gitmo, I thought I might take a minute to explain something I sometimes say … the Bush administration saw torturing people as a plus, not a cost … not because they’re sadists, but because it suited their self-image.
From day one of the War on Terror (TM), it was clear that the Bush people reveled in the notion that they were tough guys, willing to Do What Needs to be Done. They were all wannabe Kiefer Sutherlands. Far from showing qualms about suspending the rule of law and using torture to extract information, they obviously enjoyed the idea that they were willing to go all the way, unlike those wimpy liberals…..
…And so they are, inevitably, deeply upset that someone who isn’t a tough guy by their standards seems to be doing a better job of getting the terrorists than they did.
Krugman: ….isn’t the GOP showing a stunning lack of grace in this whole affair?
It’s particularly striking if you remember the atmosphere from 2001 through until 2004 or so. Back then, any hint of criticism of Bush’s War on Terror, or even a failure to show sufficient enthusiasm for his leadership, led to accusations that you were unpatriotic and somehow warped by your partisanship.
Now Obama actually gets his man – and does it in what seems to have been a truly gutsy fashion – and all we get is carping.
I can’t actually say I’m surprised, but it’s still kind of amazing.
It’s hard to believe this was only a week ago …. think of all that has happened since:
Michael Hirsh (National Journal): Ever so gingerly, even as they praised President Obama’s success against Osama bin Laden, some former senior Bush administration officials have sought to take a little credit for the mission themselves. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, interviewed by MSNBC this week, even called the operation “a good story for continuity across two presidencies.”
That assessment couldn’t be further from the truth.
Behind Obama’s takedown of the Qaida leader this week lies a profound discontinuity between administrations – a major strategic shift in how to deal with terrorists. From his first great public moment when, as a state senator, he called Iraq a “dumb war,” Obama indicated that he thought that George W. Bush had badly misconceived the challenge of 9/11. And very quickly upon taking office as president, Obama reoriented the war back to where, in the view of many experts, it always belonged. He discarded the idea of a “global war on terror” that conflated all terror threats from al-Qaida to Hamas to Hezbollah. Obama replaced it with a covert, laserlike focus on al-Qaida and its spawn….
…Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once famously lamented that “we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror.” Neither he nor other senior members of the Bush administration ever developed those “metrics.” But by any metric, Barack Obama has just tallied a major victory.
David Rothkopf (Foreign Policy): …..let’s try to put this week in perspective by highlighting a few winners, a few losers…The winners who have thus far emerged from the shootout at the Abbottabad corral include, in reverse order of the size of the win:
….The Families of U.S. Service Men and Women in Afghanistan: They’re coming home sooner now. This was their mission too. You can hardly beat that … and because there are so many of you, that’s why you edge out those folks at the pointy end of the spear who completed the mission.
….Barack Obama: His finest hour. Decisive. Cool. Able to both strike hard and do so with the kind of American values and restraint that elevated the mission and stands in stark contrast to the bombast and recklessness of some of his predecessors.
….The Planet Earth: A day without bin Laden is a better day for everyone.
Washington Post: …..When bin Laden’s corpse was laid out, one of the Navy SEALs was asked to stretch out next to it to compare heights. The SEAL was 6 feet tall. The body was several inches taller.
After the information was relayed to Obama, he turned to his advisers and said: “We donated a $60 million helicopter to this operation. Could we not afford to buy a tape measure?”
Daily Texan: Meet Rick Perry. He’s been the governor of the great state of Texas since Dec. 21, 2000. Meet Hannah Treadway. She’s my little sister, who lives with my family in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and was born on July 20, 1999.
Gov. Perry and Little Sister Hannah seem like they have a lot in common – strong leadership skills, great hair and my best guess is that they’re both into watching cartoons.
…I decided it would be a fun exercise to test how closely they align or differ on policy issues … I’m going to write out the question I asked my little sister, and then I’m going to put two answers. One will be the response my little sister gave me, and one will be a quote from our governor….
Question 1: What is Juarez, Mexico?
Answer 1: “It’s a place in Mexico. My dad says it’s not very safe.”
Answer 2: “Juarez is reported to be the most dangerous city in America.”
If you guessed that it was Hannah’s dad that told her that Juarez is not very safe, you are correct. In February, Perry delivered the second answer to reporters, but in fairness, it was an honest mistake that any politician who doesn’t speak in front of the media very often could have made. Now, moving on to question two.
Question 2: Who is responsible for the BP oil spill?
Answer 1: “From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.”
Answer 2: “BP.”
Answer 2 belongs to my naive 11-year-old sister, who in her youth thinks oil companies that skirt regulations are accountable for their mistakes. Fortunately our governor, in all his experience, has enough perspective to realize that it could have just been God’s fault.
Keith Olbermann: The GOP spin machine, caught with its Abu Ghraib pants down, has come up with only two rickety memes with which to pull itself out of the deep end of the political pool. The first was the simplest: “Obama merely finished what Bush began.”
But the second was a little more robust: The Peter King (R-Stupidity) claim mirrored by a tweeter who asked me: “how does it feel knowing Bin Laden courier was discovered under Bush admin & info was obtained in Gitmo?”
King: “We obtained that information through waterboarding. So for those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information, which directly led us to Bin Laden.”
Two problems with that. There is the unfortunate realization that if this information truly germinated during the Bush Administration, and truly came from waterboarding, that means The Bush Administration Had A Direct Link To Bin Laden Eight Years Ago And Either Didn’t Know It Or Didn’t Bother To Figure It Out.
Wait, it gets worse. Guess who’s out tonight denying that waterboarding, or even “harsh treatment” led to the info that led to Bin Laden?
“It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”
That was said by Don Rumsfeld.
I’ll stop writing now so you can spend a few minutes laughing through your mouth, nose, ears, feet, and eyeballs.
I don’t often (ever?) quote Olbermann, but this was utterly irresistible😉
ThinkProgress: Politico reports that supporters of George W. Bush are “irked” that the former president isn’t getting more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, despite the droves of conservatives lawmakers and pundits who have been rushing to give Bush equal credit as Obama.
But this praise for Bush relies on rewriting history to obscure the fact Obama re-prioritized the hunt for Bin Laden after Bush had largely abandoned the effort to focus on Iraq.
…Asked about the hunt for Bin Laden at a March, 2002 press conference, Bush said, “I truly am not that concerned about him. I am deeply concerned about Iraq.” “I really just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you,” Bush added.
By 2006, the trail for Bin Laden had gone “stone cold” … That year, it was revealed that the administration had shuttered the CIA’s Bin Laden unit in late 2005…
…the Bush administration blew a critical opportunity to capture Bin Laden in 2001. Bin Laden was wounded and on the run, but top Bush national security officials rejected repeated pleas for reinforcements from commanders and intelligence officials fighting the terrorist leader in the caves of Tora Bora, despite the availability of resources…. decisions made by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputies, and other top administration officials allowed Bin Laden to escape.
The consequence of this missed opportunity are tremendous. As Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer, the director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, told NPR yesterday, “if bin Laden had been killed in Afghanistan eight years ago in the caves of Tora Bora, al-Qaida might well have died with him. Now the organization is diversified enough it could weather bin Laden’s death – and hardly miss a beat.”….
Comment of the day! – LOL: So let me get this straight….Obama has to stop blaming Bush for the bad economy he inherited because it has been 2.5 yrs, BUT Obama has to give credit to Bush for capturing Bin Laden even though Bush hasn’t seen the inside of the Situation room in 2.5 yrs- yeah, I Must have forgotten (IOKIYAAR)- Its OK If You Are A Republican)
Michael Grunwald (Time): The New Republic recently asked an intriguing question about the U.S. intervention in Libya: Why isn’t Obama getting credit for preventing an atrocity? The answer is obvious when you think about it: because he prevented the atrocity. It’s hard to get credit for avoiding a disaster when it’s impossible to prove the disaster would have happened without you. Social scientists call this the counterfactual problem….
This is a problem for public policy because preventing disasters is infinitely preferable to stopping them in progress. And it’s a political problem for Obama … He is the counterfactual President, not just on his Libya policy, but on almost all his policies. And as his aides often complain, “I prevented a disaster” is a lousy political slogan….
The most extreme example, of course, was the $787 billion stimulus package that Obama signed during his first month in office, when the economy was shedding 700,000 jobs a month. The immediate goal was to avoid a depression, and in that sense it was a tremendous success, stopping the hemorrhaging and stabilizing the scariest economic situation since the Great Depression…..
… His financial reforms should reduce the chances of another Wall Street meltdown, but it’s classic disaster prevention: if they fail, it’s a scandal, and if they work, we won’t notice…
Most of Obama’s counterfactual problems can be traced to what his former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel calls the “gift bag” that President Bush left for him. The gift bag included the worst economy in 80 years, a nightmare on Wall Street, a deficit spiraling out of control, one unnecessary war in Iraq and one intractable war in Afghanistan, a dysfunctional health care system, and an energy policy that was broiling the planet and exposing consumers to violent swings in gas prices….
Rebel fighters celebrate by waving a Kingdom of Libya flag atop a destroyed tank on the outskirts of the town of Ajdabiyah, March 26
Tom Malinowski (the Washington director of Human Rights Watch): Here is one lesson we can draw from the mostly negative media commentary about the Obama administration’s actions in Libya: Presidents get more credit for stopping atrocities after they begin than for preventing them before they get out of hand.
…In Libya, many people (we don’t yet know how many) were arrested, forcibly disappeared and possibly executed as the Qaddafi government consolidated its control over Tripoli and rebel-held enclaves … But the Obama administration and its international allies did act soon enough to prevent the much larger-scale atrocities that would likely have followed Qaddafi’s reconquest of eastern Libya and especially the city of Benghazi … it was, by any objective standard, the most rapid multinational military response to an impending human rights crisis in history, with broader international support than any of the humanitarian interventions of the 1990s.
But precisely because the international community acted in time – before Qaddafi retook Benghazi – we never saw what might have happened had they not acted…. we should acknowledge what could be happening in eastern Libya right now had Qaddafi’s forces continued their march…
…It is legitimate to challenge the Obama administration about its objectives and how it plans to achieve them. It’s reasonable to be concerned about the impact the air war will have on civilians if it continues indefinitely. We do not know what will happen next in Libya, or where this all will lead – we never do. But we do know what has likely been averted. And for that we should be grateful.