Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rep. Peter Defazio Gets It

I wrote my congressman and both senators regarding the Bush Bailout, and already got a reply from Mr. Defazio, my congressman.

"Dear Ms. Collier:

Thank you for contacting me about the Bush Administration bailout. I am vehemently opposed to this bailout.

I was the first Member of Congress to take to the House floor and stand up in opposition to this $700 billion bailout. The financial crisis we face today does not need to be resolved by forking over $700 billion from the taxpayer to the "Masters of the Universe" on Wall Street.

The fundamental premise of the $700 billion Bush Administration bailout is flawed, reckless, and foolish. It is flawed because it is not clear it will achieve its stated objective of injecting commercial banks with liquidity and it ignores the needs of main street America, it is reckless because there are better alternatives, and it is foolish because giving away $700 billion will limit our ability to deal with the myriad of other problems we face such as healthcare, energy independence, and job creation.

To put the sheer audacity of this bailout plan in perspective, a compromise has been talked about that reduces the initial payments to "only $250 billion". $250 billion would more than double our investment in bridges, highways, transit, and rail in the United States for five years. Investing in infrastructure creates jobs and stimulates the economy. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, for every $1.25 billion we invest in infrastructure, we will create over 30,000 jobs and $6 billion in additional economic activity. In President Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration, we invested in building roads, bridges, dams, hydroelectric systems and other public works projects to mend our nation's broken economy. That money trickled up to Wall Street from Main Street and rebuilt our economy. We did not just throw money at Wall Street with the hopes that the taxpayer might some day be paid back.

I think Congress should respond, but the basic premise of the Bush Administration bailout is flawed. Almost 200 economists wrote to Congress stating "As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson"[1]. The letter went on to raise the issues of fairness, ambiguity, and the long-term effects. The former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp in the Reagan Administration wrote, "I have doubts that the $700 billion bailout, if enacted, would work. Would banks really be willing to part with the loans, and would the government be able to sell them in the marketplace on terms that the taxpayers would find acceptable?"[2] And James Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas, has asked "Now that all five big investment banks -- Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley -- have disappeared or morphed into regular banks, a question arises. Is this bailout still necessary?"[3] I believe the answer is No. I have called on my colleagues to slow down this debate and seriously debate the alternative proposals.
For example, many economists have argued that directly helping mortgage holders save their houses would be astronomically cheaper and a more effective in resolving this crisis. And helping working Americans restructure their homer mortgage will increase the value of Wall Street's depreciated assets. As the New York Time opinioned recently:

"We could make a strong moral argument that the government has a greater responsibility to help homeowners than it does to bail out Wall Street. But we don't have to. Basic economics argues for a robust plan to stanch foreclosures and thereby protect the taxpayers ."[4]

Another serious consequence is the $700 billion hole in the budget deficit this bailout will create. The next administration, Democratic or Republican, will be unable to initiate new proposals as it charts a new course for our nation. The Bush tax cuts blew the surplus created by the last Democratic Administration and the Bush Administration bailout will prevent the next administration from implementing its mandate.

My biggest concern of this bailout is who pays the $700 billion tab. The $700 billion is to protect Wall Street investors, therefore the same Wall Street investors should pay for this infusion of taxpayer money. I have proposed a minimal securities transfer tax of ? of one percent. A securities transfer tax would have a negligible impact on the average investor and provide a disincentive to high volume, speculative short-term traders. Similar tax proposals have been supported by many esteemed economists such as Larry Summers, John Maynard Keynes and Nobel prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and James Tobin.

There is considerable precedent for this. The United States had a similar tax from 1914 to 1966. The Revenue Act of 1914 levied a 0.2% tax on all sales or transfers of stock. In 1932, Congress more than doubled the tax to help finance economic reconstruction programs during the Great Depression. In 1987, Speaker of the House Jim Wright offered his support for a financial transaction tax. And today the UK has a modest financial transaction tax of 0.5 percent. This is a reasonable approach to protecting taxpayers and ensuring the federal budget doesn't fall further into the fiscal hole.

I will continue to challenge this bailout every step of the way. Again, thanks for reaching out to me. Please keep in touch.


[1]
http://faculty.chicagogsb.edu/john.cochrane/research/Papers/mortgage_protest.htm
[2]
Washington Post. A Better Way to Aid Banks. William M. Isaac. Sept 27, 2008. A19.
[3]
Washington Post. A Bailout We Don't Need. James K. Galbraith. Sept. 25, 2008. A19
[4]
New York Times. Editorial. What About the Rest of Us? Sept., 26, 2008. A26.

Sincerely, Rep. Peter DeFazio
Fourth District, OREGON "

It's pretty cool having Peter representing me in Washington. He's one of the few who voted against the invasion of Iraq right from the start. He's got the guts to stand up to the Bush administration, and he's been doing just that for years. The only downside is, I don't get to vote to throw the bum out.

You bet Peter's got my vote - again.

2 comments:

aj said...

thay is seriously really awesome. i've never gotten a latter back..... im jealous..

Seda said...

Yeah. There aren't too many representatives as good as Peter. We're really lucky around here. Not that he's perfect - there are some things I disagree with him about. But he's got more integrity and courage and common sense than most.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz