Congressman Michael Burgess and some of his colleagues wrote this short letter earlier this week to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox:
We are writing to urge that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) immediately shore up the capital of the nation’s banking system by suspending the use of fair value accounting, or ‘mark to market.’ While this accounting method can raise important red flags, the mark to market rule in an illiquid market has become counterproductive and is simply making the situation worse.
In periods of market turmoil, financial institutions are forced to write down the value of long term, non-trading assets below their true economic value. These fair value requirements, while well intended, have the unintended consequence of exacerbating economic downturns by hamstringing the ability of banks to make loans to consumers and businesses.
For this reason, the SEC must suspend ‘mark to market’ immediately and begin work to expedite new guidance on how financial institutions should value these assets. Until such guidance is issued, the fair value of these assets should be estimated using the best available information of the instrument’s value, including the entity’s intended use of that asset, from the point of view of the holder of that instrument.
Nice. Let's solve the problem by pretending the problem is not there.
Look, the fundamental problem here is a lack of liquidity brought on by a seized up market for these mortgage-backed securities. Changing the way these things are valued on the company's financial books is not going to solve the fundamental problem, which is that there is no market for them.
Quite the opposite, if a regulated bank relies too heavily on these illiquid assets, it may become insolvent and thus a burden to the taxpayer and its depositors.
Quit dicking around and PASS THE DAMNED RESCUE BILL. You can't rewrite the law of gravity, and you can't make securities liquid simply by claiming they are liquid. You make them liquid by making a market for them - also known as BUYING SOME OF THEM.
We're not saying that the assets are worthless. But when it comes to maintaining liquid capital for our nation's banking system, mark-to-market is about the best system we have to ensure we don't have a repeat of the S&L failures in the 80's. For once, let's learn from history.
Don't try to fix the result of de-regulation by further de-regulating. Don't try to put out a gasoline fire by pouring more gas on it.
Hold your nose and get down there and vote for this smelly hog of a bill so your country can continue to function, and your constituents can keep their jobs.
Although Monday night's agenda is not yet published, I've received confirmation from the City Secretary's office that the City Council will discuss an ordinance to make English the official language of the City of Lewisville.
I must say that I am embarrassed already. If the ordinance were passed, it would be only the third-such ordinance in Texas. The town of Oak Point passed it in 2007.
I am told that Councilman Lathan Watts, the extreme right-wing construction-industry lobbyist first elected in 2006 on a platform of stopping a proposed day-labor shelter has introduced the proposed ordinance.
During this summer's economic melt-down, immigration has taken a back seat as a national issue, but Republicans who see immigration as an issue with some appeal to their base in a time when their slate of candidates is less-than-exciting may be anxious to use the City Council as a vehicle to energize a withering base against a growing immigrant population.
While it may be true that English is the common and uniting language in our country, and is the language of opportunity, such an ordinance would only do harm by alienating and further polarizing our community. Some see it as a way of intimidating illegal immigrants, but I am concerned about its ramifications on children and legal immigrants who speak Spanish or other languages as their primary language.
Please contact your Mayor and City Council and let them know that we don't need to legislate intolerance in our city. We can continue to use common sense and basic human decency when deciding what documents get translated:
Update #1: The agenda has been published. Following is full text of the proposed resolution:
A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LEWISVILLE, TEXAS, DESIGNATING ENGLISH AS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE CITY OF LEWISVILLE.
WHEREAS, the English language is the common language of the City of Lewisville, the State of Texas and of the United States; and,
WHEREAS, the use of a common language removes barriers of misunderstanding and helps to unify the people of Lewisville, this State and the United States, and helps to enable the full economic and civic participation of all its citizens, regardless of national origin, creed, race or other characteristics, and thus a compelling governmental interest exists in promoting, preserving, and strengthening the use of the English language; and,
WHEREAS, proficiency in the English language, as well as in languages other than the English language, benefits the City of Lewisville both economically and culturally and should be encouraged; and,
WHEREAS, in addition to any other ways to promote proficiency in the English language, the government of the City of Lewisville can promote proficiency in English by using the English language in its official actions and activities; and,
WHEREAS, in today's society, the City of Lewisville may also need to protect and preserve the rights of those who speak only the English language to use or obtain governmental programs and benefits; and the government of the City of Lewisville can reduce costs and promote efficiency, in its roles as employer and a government accountable to the people, by using the English language in its official actions and activities;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF LEWISVILLE, TEXAS, THAT:
SECTION 1. The City Council, Mayor and officials of the City of Lewisville shall take all steps necessary to insure that the role of English as the common language of the City of Lewisville is preserved and enhanced.
SECTION 2. The City Council of the City of Lewisville shall make no ordinance or policy which diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common language of the City of Lewisville.
SECTION 3. Official actions of the City of Lewisville which bind or commit the City of Lewisville or which give the appearance of presenting the official views or position of the City of Lewisville shall be taken in the English language, and in no other language. Unofficial or nonbinding translations or explanations of official actions may be provided separately in languages other than English, if they are appropriately labeled as such and reference is made to a method to obtain the official action; unless otherwise required by federal or State law, no person has a right to such an unofficial or non-binding translation or explanation, and no liability or commitment of the City of Lewisville shall be based on such a translation or explanation.
SECTION 4. No ordinance, decree, program, or policy of the City of Lewisville or any of its subdivisions, shall require the use of any language other than English for any documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, meetings, programs, or publications, except as provided in this resolution.
SECTION 5. A person who speaks only the English language shall be eligible to participate in all programs, benefits and opportunities, including employment, provided by the City of Lewisville and its subdivisions, except when required to speak another language as provided under the exceptions listed in this resolution.
SECTION 6. Exceptions: The City of Lewisville and its subdivisions may use a language other than English for any of the following purposes, whether or not the use would be considered part of an official action: to teach or encourage the learning of languages other than English; to protect the public health, sanitation, and public safety; to teach English to those who are not fluent in the language; to comply with the Native American Languages Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Voting Rights Act, or any other federal or State law; to protect the rights of criminal defendants and victims of crime; to promote trade, commerce, and tourism; to collect payments, fines, or other financial obligations due and payable to the City of Lewisville; to create or promote mottos or designations, inscribe public monuments, and perform other acts involving the customary use of a language other than English; to utilize terms of art or terms or phrases from other languages which are commonly used in communications otherwise in English; and printed materials, signage, or other materials or documents of the City of Lewisville printed in languages other than English at the time of the adoption of this resolution and not otherwise excepted in this resolution shall not be discarded or reprinted solely in English at the additional cost or expense of the taxpayers of the City of Lewisville until they are exhausted or become otherwise obsolete..
SECTION 7. The declaration and use of English as the official language of the City of Lewisville should not be construed as infringing upon the rights of any person to use a language other than English in private communications or actions.
Folks, this is an absolute embarrassment to the citizens and taxpayers of Lewisville. When you look at the list of documents that we currently have translated, and then look at this ordinance, what you see is that this is largely a big symbolic slap in the face to non-English-speakers.
So, right now as I type this, members of the U.S. Senate are going down to the well to vote on the 451 page long H.R. 1424 which has now been sufficiently porked up (they think) to get House Republicans to vote for it:
Sec. 305. Extension of 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements and qualified restaurant improvements; 15-year straight-line cost recovery for certain improvements to retail space. Sec. 308. Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children. Sec. 602. Transfer to abandoned mine reclamation fund.
Not to say there aren't some good provisions in this - like AMT relief, but I sure wish someone would go over there and knock some heads together.
Now that it has passed, some house members have some serious reading to do tonight and tomorrow.
Washington, Sep 24 - Our financial markets are stressed to the breaking point and decisive action is needed to prevent further harm to our economy. But, rushing to judgment and being reactionary is not the responsible way to address this crisis. Nationalizing assets and bailing out corporations is not the answer either.
Congress has a responsibility to act swiftly and in a way that protects American taxpayers from more debt, higher taxes, and untold risk. Safeguarding the fundamentals of our free market system must be a critical piece as well.
Well, isn't that special? (I'm making my best Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" face here...)
"...being reactionary is not the responsible way to address this crisis..."
Yes, the responsible way would have been to be proactive and responsive with regulations, instead of being asleep at the wheel. If it weren't for extremists like you and the others in your party, who believed dogmatically in deregulation, in spite the obvious consequences, we wouldn't be in this mess. But that's water under the bridge to nowhere, now, isn't it?
"Nationalizing assets and bailing out corporations..."
First, lets be crystal clear that you're using misleading language here. We are not expropriating assets or industries. We are not seizing an industry. This is not socialism. We are offering to purchase illiquid securities from the banking system. They can choose to sell or not. They will face their own natural consequences should they decide to hold those assets.
In all this, the shareholders of these corporations are seeing their equity wiped out. They failed to elect responsible boards and select management that would deliver them the balance of risk and return that would have better served them. These banks will survive, but most importantly, our financial system will survive.
"Safeguarding the fundamentals of our free market system must be a critical piece as well. "
100% agreed here, but the important thing for your party is to update your understanding of what the fundamentals of a free-market system are. The fundamentals now, it is abundantly clear, must include a role for appropriate and fairly scoped government oversight and regulation to control for the excesses of greed that drag the overall industry down.
Resolution Trust Company formed to cover debt of Lincoln and 746 other S&L’s
$125 billion bill was passed on to taxpayers
Budget deficit causes cuts in other programs
Real estate boom crashes
Phil Gramm the “economic guru of Keating 5 Maverick” authors Gramm-Leach-Billey Act which repealed important protections in 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. (Glass-Steagall Act controlled rampant speculation that enabled the banking collapse at the beginning of the Great Depression)
Removed regulations from banks allowing them to become directly involved in:
Promotes bank buyouts and mergers allowing financial institutions to become:
TOO BIG TO FAIL
Phil Gramm the “economic guru of Keating 5 Maverick” authors Commodity Futures Moderinization Act (CFMA).
Large parts written by industry lobbyists
expands scope of futures trading
creates new speculation vehicles
shelters certain investments from regulation including Credit Default Swaps
includes Enron Loophole (written by Phil Gramm and Enron lobbyists) which exempts energy trading from regulation
Credit Default Swaps - were sheltered by CFMA. “A kind of insurance one bank could exchange with another, credit default swaps supposedly made it safe for banks to take on ever riskier forms of debt.” CFMA placed credit default swaps “in a state where they were not only unregulated but almost perfectly opaque. No one could determine their worth. Greenspan said credit default swaps would be the salvation of the industry because they spread the risks around. For a more thorough explanation, see http://docs.google.com/TeamPresent?do ... n_0cdjsr4fn&skipauth=true”>Sup Prime Primer
banks accept lower and lower down payment on homes
credit check, salary check and asset checks are skipped
This recommendation later was exposed to be a push to privatize regulation which essentially provides no regulation at all. (see legislation below that never made it out of the Republican controlled Congress)
“Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 to establish: (1) in lieu of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an independent Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Agency which shall have authority over the Federal Home Loan Bank Finance Corporation, the Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac);”
The bill died at the end of the 109th Republican controlled Congress
NOTE: This bill was transferring any remaining oversight FROM the government TO an INDEPENDENT Agency! That meant it had NO FEDERAL OVERSIGHT AT ALL! Hat Tip to txag007 for calling my attention to this ah hmmm...oversight
Almost all TV news outlets are showing snippets from the campaign trail. There fore I doubt if anyone has missed the slogan that has moved from the halls of the RNC to the McCain/Palin rallies. “Drill - Baby - Drill” goes the cry for cheaper gas prices sooner rather than later, open it up - drill more drill faster.
Could this be another election ploy? What did McCain learn about drilling from May till September that changed his mind? McCain was set against drilling only a few months ago, but now encourages the chant, if he knows something will he share that? To date all information would send a contravening message. Not that there is no oil but rather that by the time the exploration and studies are complete, sites are chosen, rigs are built, platforms set up and drilling begins, will be at least three to four years down the road. We can only hope that during that time the oil companies will buy some land and begin to build new modern refineries. It has been a quarter of a century since one was built on American soil.
What of the years that go by till the oil is moved to a refinery and then hopefully to the local gas station? Do we stand still waiting for that to happen? We are Americans we wait patiently for very little, so new things will happen new ideas will come to market. The question is how soon, if we invested some of the money being allowed for gas drilling and we do indeed underwrite that, could we not invest in technology for tomorrow?
We say we believe that best of all situations is a free-market economy. Yet, we underwrite almost all corporations with special tax incentives, and even government money. Where is the individual capitalist market in that scenario? We are looking for the drilling to bring us cheaper prices at the pump. The end justifies the means - what will be at the end? Oil prices as of today are at $100 a barrel, are they lower at the pump? In fact they have never been higher. Some justification comes from the fact that the Texas coast just experienced a huge hurricane, yet the prices increased nearly a week before and then again during and after the hurricane. Most of the damage from the hurricane was on land, the rigs, storage facilities, and refineries can be online in less than a week.
Do we have a solid guarantee that any products of drilling will be sold to Americans? If the oil companies are to expend this large amount capital, will they not expect to make it up and price competitively? The idea of cheaper gas prices from oil drilled off-shore seems very far-fetched. It simply does not consider the real facts before us. We will pay for this drilling, through our tax dollars and most certainly at the pump. If instead of simply waiting for off-shore drilling to divine us a miracle, we might look to areas that are currently being drilled but not nearly as they could.
A Vast and mostly unused oil asset known as the Bakken Field encompasses much of the central United States. This area has been drilled for nearly fifty years, and yet modern drilling technology will allow for this very rich oil resource to give up even more. The cost in the drilling, are the expected costs. The new refineries could be quickly built to accommodate the need. The oil coming from this area would indeed be less expensive and more readily obtained. But what of the impending needs to rid us of the evil foreign oil, the majority of oil we use comes from Mexico and Canada. Could this be just another election devise? Keep us looking for an enemy where none exists? There are answers, out there and easily obtained. One comes from T.Boone Pickens, let us all convert our cars to natural gas.
The problems with this are numerous, but let just look at one. Can you take your car to the dealership and have it converted? No you cannot. Some individuals will have the ability to do this for themselves. Others will have to pay up wards of 10,000 dollars for this privilege. I doubt with the economy in such catastrophic disrepair that many can afford this investment. Mr. Pickens and his investors will do every well. Why not invest in America’s future and maximize the wind and solar potential? We then can use clean electricity for new cars, and gasoline as needed till we are able to stand without. There are many alternatives, one being that of the green revolution, new ideas are coming to market each day, most will affect our lives in the most positive of ways with-out breaking the bank. They offer us clean alternatives and bring jobs to a permanent work force. With that careful planning we save money, re-build our work force, and have some solutions to our need for independence. This would of course require leadership in the Congress, Senate and the Presidency, should we ever be that lucky.
Some thoughts in response to the lady that has been selected by McCain. I tend to think of vice presidents as always being a moment in time away from the White House. McCain has chosen a woman who is so committed to the ideas of religion that I doubt she could ever be trusted to act in the best interest of the country at large. This is not just a simple issue, we are clinging to the ideals of a democracy and each election need to remember that there are those who would happily make this country into a theocracy. That goes far beyond simply how one chooses to view god, but rather how we will be allowed to live our lives. Does it really matter if the fundamentalist is Christian or Muslim? The end result is the same. We lose the ideals of freedom. This is far beyond being an issue of republican v democrat. This has become about our basic freedoms. Are any of us ready to let go and surrender to someone else's vision of what is all right to think or say? A person's religion is a personal matter and none of my business, till it crosses the line and then becomes my business - my issue. "True, people of faith have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American laws and morals ... it's the American way, encouraged and protected by the First Amendment. But what is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America's great political parties. The country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is, and they are driving American politics, using God as a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation, energy, regulation, social services and so on." (Bill Moyers)
How did this happen? Voter apathy is key to the phenomenal ascent of the theocratic right in the U.S. government.
“With the apathy that exists today, a small, well-organized minority can influence the selection of candidates to an astonishing degree” (Pat Robertson, The Millennium, 1990). If you think this is just another election and that your vote doesn't count, I believe you may be very wrong. After the last eight years we know how miserable and unchangeable the results of an election can be. We also know that the machinery of politics can make a decent heroic American look as if he were our worst nightmare, conversely a coward can be made to seem a hero. I keep hearing that people cannot vote for a black man, whether you are white, black, Mexican, a member of one of many different oriental backgrounds, or any other background the face of this country is your face. We cannot be embroiled in decisive racial issues when the question of whether our not this country will even survive is at stake. I have heard all the nonsense being perpetuate by certain so-called news networks, I am asking you to look beyond rumors and innuendo and discover the man behind the black face that so scares you. In fact, I challenge you to do just that, become informed about whom these people are and the real agenda will be. This is not about one issue, as in abortion, it is about your rights to be truly as free as the Constitution envisioned for all of us. We need only to look at things happening today to know that we can easily lose all that has been paid for with blood.