Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Has a ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived?" and other questions

"Has a ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived?" (Frank Rich, NY Times):

A CHARMING visit with Jay Leno won’t fix it. A 90 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses won’t fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner won’t fix it. Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans’ anger with his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and, worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif., in a letter to the editor published by The Times last week: “President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina moment has arrived.”

"Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the country's surge of populist rage could devour the president's best-laid plans, including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didn't get in front of it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White House seemed utterly blindsided by the public's revulsion at the moneyed insiders' culture illuminated by Daschle's post-Senate career. Yet last week's events suggest that the administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster."

"Obama Administration Needs to Wake Up" (Booman Tribune):

The Obama administration needs to get their shit together on the banking problem. They leaked details of the toxic-asset plan to the New York Times and let it be known that more details will be forthcoming as soon as Monday. But they got no thanks for it from the left. The plans (at least the parts divulged by The Times) have been blasted by Paul Krugman (once), Paul Krugman (twice), James Galbraith, Calculated Risk, Yves Smith, Loretta Kane, European Tribune, Ian Welsh, Dean Baker, and Atrios, for starters.

"Don’t Buy the Chirpy Forecasts--The history of banking crises indicates this one may be far from over." (Newsweek):

The good news from our historical study of eight centuries of international financial crises is that, so far, they have all ended. And we confidently predict this one will end, too. We are just not quite so sure it will be nearly as soon as the chirpy forecasts coming from policymakers around the globe. The U.S. administration, for example, is now predicting that growth will renew in the latter part of this year and continue at a brisk pace of 4 percent for several years thereafter. Is this a fact-based forecast or wishful thinking?

"The Art of Political Distraction" (Sheryl Gay Stolberg-NY Times op-ed)

Mr. Gillespie said the cost to the new White House was clear; no longer would Mr. Obama be able to “rush the net” by asking Congress to quickly approve legislation. Mr. Axelrod insisted that the furor would die down — Americans, he said, had bigger things to worry about, like jobs and health care — yet conceded that Mr. Obama, who expects to ask Congress for yet more money to stabilize the nation’s shaky bank system, will now have a much tougher time doing so.

“He has a difficult job,” Mr. Axelrod said, “because he has to explain to the American people, who are furious, why we need to maintain a strong functioning system of credit so that people can get loans, and businesses can get loans. At the same time, he has to explain to Wall Street why people are legitimately outraged by what they have done. Both are made more difficult by these kinds of stories.”

Howie P.S.: Attempting to bring a little cheer into the political world, Joe Biden contributed this quip at last night's annual Gridiron Club dinner, the annual white-tie gathering of journalists and government officials:
Biden said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in attendance for much of the event, is "always there when you need money, no questions asked."
Not now, Joe.

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