You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Democratic Party’ tag.

Timothy Geithner is a seasoned crisis manager with a temperament to match that of Barack Obama

timgeithner

STOCKMARKETS soared on Friday November 21st when investors learned that Barack Obama would nominate Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary. That might seem odd. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was already a favourite for the post. And he brings no magical solution to the financial crisis: he has been battling it for over a year, with no end in sight.

The 494-point (6.5%) jump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average is more a statement about investors’ anxiety over the unsettled state of economic policymaking. News of the Treasury nominee holds out the prospect of a more coherent and forceful approach to the crisis. The current treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, is reworking the $700 billion bail-out plan on the fly, policymakers are struggling over a new approach to foreclosures, the status of the mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is in limbo, and Congress has just sent the carmakers, teetering close to insolvency, home empty handed. The two months before Mr Obama is sworn in seem like an eternity.

Investors were also relieved that their darkest fears of a Sarah Palin-like shock announcement did not come to pass and that Mr Obama, as in his other important appointments, has chosen ability over connections. Mr Geithner does not know Mr Obama well and has no notable ties to the Democratic Party. But for this cabinet post more than any other, an overtly political appointment would have been corrosive to investor confidence.

Assuming he is nominated Mr Geithner brings two crucial qualities. First, he represents continuity. From the first days of the crisis last year, he has worked hand in glove with Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Mr Paulson. He can continue to do so while awaiting confirmation. If Citigroup, for example, needs federal help, Mr Geithner will be involved. An unknown when he joined the New York Fed in 2003, he is now a familiar face to the most senior executives on Wall Street and to central bankers and finance ministers overseas.

Second, he represents competence. He has spent more time on financial crises, from Mexico and Thailand to Brazil and Argentina, than probably any other policymaker in office today. Mr Geithner understands better than almost anyone that in crises you throw out the forecast and focus on avoiding low probability events with catastrophic consequences. Such judgments are excruciating: do too little, and you undermine confidence and generate a bigger crisis that needs even bigger policy action. Do too much, and you look panicked and invite blowback from Wall Street, Congress and the press. At times during the crisis Mr Geithner would counsel Mr Bernanke on the importance of the right “ratio of drama to effectiveness”.

Mr Geithner looks a lot younger than his 47 years. He skateboards and snowboards and exudes a sort of hipster-wonkiness, using “way” as a synonym for “very” as in “way consequential” and occasionally underlining his point with the word “fuck”. 

In temperament he seems similar to Mr Obama: he is suspicious of ideology, questions received wisdom

 

In normal times, risk aversion damps economic cycles; in a crisis, it accentuates them, leading to withdrawn credit, evaporating liquidity, margin calls, falling asset prices, and more risk aversion. “The brake becomes the accelerator,” as he puts it. Indeed, although he worked alongside Mr Paulson on the crisis, he has at times advocated a more aggressive approach. For example, news reports say that he was not comfortable with Mr Paulson’s decision to take public money off the table in the ultimately unsuccessful effort to save Lehman Brothers. He has not always got it right: he was the most important architect of the original bail-out of American International Group, an insurer, which in time has proved flawed, requiring significant amendment.

Mr Geithner looks a lot younger than his 47 years (though not as young as he did before the crisis began). He skateboards and snowboards and exudes a sort of hipster-wonkiness, using “way” as a synonym for “very” as in “way consequential” and occasionally underlining his point with the word “fuck”. In temperament he seems similar to Mr Obama: he is suspicious of ideology, questions received wisdom, likes a competition of ideas and is keenly aware of how uncertain the world is.

Mr Geithner learned about crisis management as an aide to Lawrence Summers who rose to Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. Mr Summers was the other candidate for the job under Mr Obama, and his appointment would probably also have been greeted enthusiastically. He will reportedly join the administration in a White House advisory role.

Mr Geithner leaves a big hole; the New York Fed president is by tradition the financial system’s go-to crisis manager, and that job has never been more important in the modern era than it is now. A probable candidate to succeed him is a Fed governor, Kevin Warsh. Though young (he is just 38) he has been a central player in the crisis thanks to his extensive contacts in the financial world and closeness to Mr Bernanke, who puts great store in Mr Warsh’s feel for politics and markets (see our recent blog post). That appointment will be made by the board of the New York Fed.

Mr Geithner faces a huge job. He will have critical decisions to make on whether to enlarge or alter the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Programme, what sort of firms will qualify for its money, whether and how to bail out the carmakers, what to do with the flailing mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and how to deal with countless other chapters in the continuing crisis. Unlike Mr Summers he is not an economist and brings no expertise to many of the big economic-policy questions that the Obama administration will confront such as health care, fiscal policy and taxes, even though he will be the primary spokesman on the administration’s economic policies.

He is a quick learner: within a year of joining the New York Fed he could debate the intricacies of monetary policy with academic experts. But he will join an administration rapidly filling up with heavyweights on economic policy, not least of them Mr Summers. Indeed, one of the big questions of the new team that Mr Obama is expected to unveil on Monday is just how Mr Summers, a brilliant but intimidating and sometimes abrasive figure, will fit in.

Mr Obama is assembling a formidable economic team. With the economy perhaps on the precipice of its worst recession since the Depression, he will need it.

Source: Economist

::

Advertisements

obama-clinton_1012811i

Barack Obama’s serious flirtation with his one-time rival, Hillary Clinton, over the post of secretary of State has been welcomed by everyone from Henry Kissinger to Bill Clinton as an effective, grand gesture by the president-elect.

It’s not playing quite as well, however, in some precincts of Obamaland. From his supporters on the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, to campaign aides of the soon-to-be commander-in-chief, there’s a sense of ambivalence about giving a top political plum to a woman they spent 18 months hammering as the compromised standard-bearer of an era that deserves to be forgotten.

“These are people who believe in this stuff more than Barack himself does,” said a Democrat close to Obama’s campaign. “These guys didn’t put together a campaign in order to turn the government over to the Clintons.”

An overlooked theme in Obama’s primary victory was his belief that the Clinton legacy was not, as the Clintons imagined, a pure political positive. The Obama campaign had no compunctions about poking holes in that legacy and even sent out mailings stressing the downside of the last “8 years of the Clintons” – enraging the former president in particular.

And the clearest opposition to the Clinton appointment comes from Obama’s backers on the left of his own party, whose initial support for him was motivated in part by a distaste for the Clinton dynasty, and who now view her reemergence with some dismay.

“There’s always a risk of a Cabinet member freelancing and that risk is enhanced by the fact that Hillary has her own public and her own celebrity and that she comes attached to Bill,” said Robert Kuttner, a Clinton critic and former American Prospect editor whose new book, Obama’s Challenge, implores the president-elect to adopt an expansive liberal agenda. “The other question is the old rule – never hire somebody you can’t fire. What happens if her views and his views don’t mesh?”

“The silver lining, for those of us who are skeptical, is that it drastically limits the number of other Clinton administration alums that he can appoint, and that’s a blessing,” Kuttner said.

Kuttner hastened to add that Clinton is “very smart” and capable, and that her appointment would be “greeted very well worldwide. And other Democratic foreign policy thinkers who are eager to work in, or with, the Obama administration declined to comment on the record, though they noted that foreign policy was an area that marked some of the deepest disagreements between Clinton and Obama.

Some key Obama-Clinton differences: Whether to meet face-to-face with leaders of hostile regimes (he was more open to the idea than she was) and her vote to authorize the war in Iraq.

“The specific policy area at issue seems to be one in which the two of them aren’t all that well-aligned,” wrote the liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias.

On Capitol Hill, however, even some of the left’s most normally unshrinking violets publicly backed a plan that appears to be almost a fait accompli.

“Sen. Clinton is one of the brightest people in Congress and she would be an excellent choice,” Vermont’s independent senator, Bernie Sanders, told Politico through a spokesman.

Read on…

Opposing view: Lieberman Must Go

A look back: Joe Lieberman Attacks Barack Obama, Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s big victory could provide Democrats with a road map for an even bigger electoral majority in the future _ something that seemed implausible just four years ago.

Obama won in the suburbs of key states, expanded Democratic majorities in big cities and made inroads into rural areas that had been off-limits to Democrats in recent presidential elections. He also proved that a black presidential candidate could make Democratic gains in some of the whitest counties in the nation _ even though in much of the Deep South, his race still appeared to turn voters away.

slide_621_12707_large

Nationwide, Republican John McCain won a majority of the white vote in Tuesday’s election. But Obama, who will become the nation’s first black president, actually fared better than Democratic nominee John Kerry did among white voters in 2004 _ and he did it in some unlikely places, according to an Associated Press analysis of election results.

“Every president wants to build or maintain a coalition for success, to establish a permanent imprint politically,” said David Rohde, a political scientist at Duke University. “If the Democrats can avoid screwing up, this can be a politically transformative event.”

As expected, Obama did well among low-income voters. But he also won over the wealthiest Americans, despite promising a tax increase for those making more than $250,000 a year. Obama won 52 percent of the vote among those with family incomes of more than $200,000 a year, according to exit polls. That’s a 17-point improvement over fellow Democrat Kerry.

Obama also won a majority of the Catholic vote, something Kerry didn’t do, even though Kerry would have become just the second Catholic president.

And Obama rocked the youth vote, which has Democrats hoping they can hold onto the voters of the future. Obama won 66 percent of the vote from 18 to 29 year olds, a 12-point improvement over Kerry.

Four years ago, the Democrats were looking at a shrinking electoral map as they suffered through hard-fought losses in Ohio and Florida. Suburban soccer moms seemed to be trending Republican, while much of rural America was solidly red.

It turns out those suburbanites weren’t so wedded to the Republicans, after all.

Obama did well in key suburban counties in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Indiana, winning all four states carried by President Bush in 2004. He also made inroads in heavily Republican rural counties, even if he didn’t win a majority of the vote in those areas.

In Florida, Obama made significant gains among voters living along the Interstate 4 corridor, a swing area from Orlando to Tampa. He won Osceola County, home to Kissimmee, and Orange County, home to Orlando. Up the Atlantic Coast, Obama also improved on Kerry’s numbers in Duval County, home to Jacksonville.

In Ohio, Obama won Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, a county that Kerry lost in 2004. He also made significant gains in suburban counties in northwestern Ohio as well as those near Columbus in the center of the state.

In Indiana, Obama won a larger percentage of the vote than Kerry in every county, helping him to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1964.

Virginia exemplified Obama’s Southern strategy. Obama built a lead in the fast-growing suburbs of Northern Virginia, territory that is more friendly toward Democrats, while limiting his losses in the southern part of the state, which is more Republican.

Much was made of Obama’s lack of support among white working class voters in his epic Democratic primary battle with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. And in the general election, Obama did lose among whites without college degrees.

But in many of the nation’s most rural, white counties outside the Deep South, Obama did surprisingly well. He didn’t always win a majority in those areas, but more often than not, he did better than Kerry did four years ago.

About 1,360 U.S. counties have populations that are more than 90 percent white. Obama won only 249 of those counties, but he received more of the vote than Kerry in nearly eight out of 10 of them, according to the AP analysis.

Obama won in overwhelmingly white counties throughout New England and in parts of the Midwest. He won some of the whitest counties in Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin and his home state of Illinois. He didn’t win many of the whitest counties in Kansas or Idaho, but he fared better than Kerry in most of them.

The South and Appalachia were the exceptions.

In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, Obama fared worse than Kerry in all 49 counties where whites make up 90 percent or more of the population.

There were similar, but less severe, patterns in the Appalachian states of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Obama did much better in faster-growing Southern states along the East Coast, such as North Carolina _ where he bested Kerry in two-thirds of the predominantly white counties, and in Virginia, where he out polled Kerry in 22 of the state’s 31 predominantly white counties.

Democrats hope the high-growth areas in the South will help them increase their toehold in a region that has largely been shut off to Democrats in the past two presidential elections.

“The people who have moved there are better educated and they make more money. It’s just a different demographic mix,” said Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from South Carolina. “That’s the South of 2008.”

ap_logo_106

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — His backers feeling increasingly confident, Democrat Barack Obama made a slight nod to his Republican rival on Saturday and asked voters to have faith in him as the next president.

Even as he criticized John McCain’s economic policies, Obama acknowledged that the GOP nominee has asked his supporters to temper their attacks on him.

“I appreciated his reminder that we can disagree while still being respectful of each other,” Obama told thousands of supporters at the first of four outdoor rallies in Philadelphia.

“Sen. McCain has served this country with honor,” he said two hours later, in the city’s Germantown neighborhood. “He deserves our thanks for that.”

“I appreciated his reminder that we can disagree while still being respectful of each other,” Obama told thousands of supporters

At a town-hall event Friday in Minnesota, McCain took the microphone from a woman who said Obama is an Arab. McCain said, “No, ma’am,” and he called Obama “a decent, family man.”

McCain drew boos at the same event when he told a supporter who expressed fear at the prospect of Obama’s election that the Democrat is a “person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

Those reassurances aside, McCain’s TV ads continue to attack Obama sharply. Some hit his ties to a former radical who co-founded a violent anti-war group in the 1960s. Yet on Saturday at an event in Iowa, McCain didn’t mention the past association and focused on their policy disagreements.

Obama referred to the ads Saturday. “We’ve seen rough stuff on the TV from them,” he said. “I can take it for four more weeks,” but the nation cannot take “four more years of Bush-McCain economics.”

“I will be a president who puts you first,” he said, asking voters not to lose hope in the economy before President Bush can be replaced.

Polls show Obama leading in several battleground states, and some of his top surrogates feel victory is nearly in reach.

“The one thing we can’t let happen is for us to be overconfident,” Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell told donors at a Friday fundraiser, where he introduced Obama.
 

McCain drew boos when he told a supporter who expressed fear at the prospect of Obama’s election that the Democrat is a “person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.”

 
Although Obama says anything can happen in the campaign’s final 24 days, hints of his optimism are creeping into his unscripted remarks.

“In some ways this is a celebratory event” as “we’re now coming to the end of what has been a two-year process, an extraordinary journey,” Obama said at a second Philadelphia fundraiser Friday night. The host, Comcast executive David L. Cohen, said the two events raised more than $5 million.

As 250 major donors ate beet salad and mahi-mahi under a huge tent, Obama seemed to look ahead to his first term as president.

“We’re going to have to make some priorities, we’re going to have to cut some things out,” he said, referring to expensive goals such as improving health care, schools and college affordability.

“I’m going to be in some fights with my own Democratic Party in getting some of that done,” he said.

Defying tradition in GOP-leaning states, he said, he is leading McCain in Montana and North Carolina. His lead in Virginia, which Democrats last carried in 1964, is 6 or 7 percentage points, he told the donors.

Obama added, however: “Who knows what can happen in the next 25 days?”

Democrats have carried Pennsylvania in recent presidential elections, although sometimes narrowly. McCain has campaigned aggressively in the state, but polls show Obama leading.

Under a brilliant blue sky, Obama’s four events here drew 60,000 people according to Philadelphia police

Democrats usually win huge margins in Philadelphia and try to minimize their losses in the state’s smaller cities and more rural areas. Obama’s barnstorming of Philadelphia was designed to drive his base’s vote as high as possible.

Under a brilliant blue sky, Obama’s four events here drew 60,000 people according to Philadelphia police, but it was impossible to verify the estimates. At some sites, thousands of people were unable to get through the gates. They stood on cars and craned their necks for a glimpse, sometimes blocks away. Crowds cheered Obama’s motorcade as it arrived and left each site.

Obama read the same speech each time, but he ad-libbed a bit and seemed increasingly buoyant as the day progressed. Telling his favorite new story about buying pie from a Republican-leaning Ohio diner owner, he joked with a woman who called out from the Germantown crowd.

“You will make me some pie?” he asked. “What kind of pie do you make? Sweet potato pie?”

As the crowd roared, he poured it on. “We’re going to have to have a sweet potato pie contest,” he said. “I’ll be the judge, because I want my sweet potato pie.”

Source: AP

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Despite championing immigration reform in 2007, John McCain is poised to lose the Hispanic vote by a landslide margin that is well below President George W. Bush's 2004 performance.

Polls show Obama winning the broadest support from Latino voters of any Democrat in a decade, while McCain is struggling to reach 30 percent, closer to Senator Bob Dole’s dismal 1996 result than to Bush’s historic 40% four years ago.

McCain seems to have wound up with the worst of both worlds: He appears to be getting no credit from Latino voters for his past support for immigration reform, while carrying the baggage of other Republicans’ hostility to illegal immigration.

And he’s been unable or unwilling to attack Obama—who was once thought to have taken a lethally liberal stance by supporting granting drivers licenses to illegal immigrants—from the right.

As October puts four states with large Hispanic populations – Florida, Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico – at the center of the presidential contest, what appeared at first to be a possible strength for McCain has emerged as a profound weakness.

“I feel bad for McCain,” said Sam Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and a prominent supporter of George W. Bush in 2004, who is neutral this year. “We find ourselves between the proverbial rock and the hard place. We really like John McCain. We really don’t like the Republican Party.”

Democrats relish McCain’s quandary.

“It’s hurt him in every way,” said Simon Rosenberg, the president of the New Democrat Network, which has focused on bringing Hispanics back to the Democratic Party. “I don’t think it’s assured the right he’s really with them. And for those who are immigration reform advocates, he’s become a betrayer, having been a leader.”

Since America’s economic crisis deepened this fall, immigration has almost entirely vanished from the national conversation. Three debates have passed without a single mention of the issue. And the undertow has pushed Hispanic and anti-immigrant voters alike toward the Democratic Party.

But under the radar, McCain and Obama are slugging it out in a bitter exchange of attack ads on Spanish-language radio and television.

“Obama is trying to do with $20 million what John McCain has done with over 20 years of service,” she said, citing a figure released by the Obama campaign. “We don’t have that kind of money to spend.”

Recent Gallup surveys show McCain with just 26 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Amandi said that some had also falsely assumed that because McCain shared Bush’s moderate position on immigration, he would inherit Bush’s support.

“President Bush making his life and career in Texas grew up with Hispanics, always had Hispanics in his inner circle and in his kitchen cabinet, and had a genuine respect for the culture,” he said. “There was never an emotional connection, there was never a personal connection, between McCain and the Hispanic community.”

Source: Politico

DALLAS (Reuters) – Republican evangelicals are not the only political base vice presidential pick Sarah Palin is energizing.

Democratic foot soldiers have sprung into action in response to John McCain’s running-mate’s personal attacks on their candidate, Barack Obama, her opposition to abortion rights and her endorsement from religious conservatives.

“When Palin’s radical and extremist views are combined with her inexperience and questionable record, it makes for an energizing brew more potent than Red Bull,” said Colorado Democratic leader Pat Waak, referring to the caffeinated energy drink.

Palin’s impact on the left was seen almost immediately after her rousing speech last month at the Republican National Convention, when Obama’s campaign reported the next day that over $8 million had poured into it from over 130,000 donors.

More recently, Palin drew the ire of Democrats when she accused Obama of “palling around” with terrorists because he served on a community board in Chicago with former 1960s radical William Ayers.

“Her attacks will make liberals see red,” added political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University.

The Alaska governor, skewered on late-night comedy shows and an object of liberal wrath on the blogosphere, has also proven an able fund-raiser for other secular and liberal causes before the November 4 presidential election.

Songwriter Gretchen Peters is donating the royalties from her song “Independence Day” during this election cycle to Planned Parenthood — and asks that donations be made in honor of Palin. Planned Parenthood provides women’s health-care services, including abortion clinics, and is frequently a target of social conservatives.

Peters was angered by the McCain/Palin campaign’s use of the song, which is about domestic abuse.

“The fact that the McCain/Palin campaign is using a song about an abused woman as a rallying cry for their vice presidential candidate, a woman who would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest, is beyond irony,” Peters says on her website.

“They are co-opting the song, completely overlooking the context and message, and using it to promote a candidate who would set women’s rights back decades,” she says.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye said a separate online campaign to raise money on its behalf “in honor of Sarah Palin” has netted more than $1 million from over 38,000 donors in all 50 states and two-thirds of the donations are from new donors who have not contributed to it before.

Organizations and activists who support abortion rights are a base for the Democratic Party. Abortion is a sharply divisive and highly partisan issue in the United States.

Palin, who bills herself as a moose-hunting mother of five, gave birth last spring to a Down syndrome baby and strongly opposes abortion rights.

COUNTERPUNCH

“Sarah Palin has energized the Republican base in unexpected ways and there is always countermobilization to a successful mobilization,” said Jillson.

In the battleground state of Colorado, Democratic Party officials said they were getting a boost from Palin’s presence on the ticket.

“I am meeting women who have never been involved before, and they are really energized to work on behalf of the Obama-Biden ticket,” said party leader Waak.

The factors that make Palin such a target for liberals of course are the same that have enabled McCain to solidify his support among the Republican Party’s evangelical base.

President George W. Bush, a Republican, got almost 80 percent of the votes cast by white evangelical Protestants in the 2004 election and analysts have said McCain, who had failed to really excite this group before he picked Palin, cannot win without them.

Evangelicals account for about 25 percent of the U.S. adult population, giving them clout in a country where faith and politics often mix.

Source: Reuters