Saturday, February 28, 2009

Last Call

If Rush Limbaugh publicly acts like he's the defining voice of the GOP in 2009, then, Paul Begala argues, Democrats should treat him as such.
Top Democratic operatives are planning a stepped up campaign to promote Rush Limbaugh as the public face of the GOP — an effort that will include recruiting Dem governors to make this case on talk shows, getting elected officials to pen Op eds arguing it, and running more ads pushing it, a senior Democratic operative says.

Key leadership staff in the House and Senate, and in all the political committees, have been encouraged by senior Dem operatives to push this message wherever possible, the operative says.

“I’m encouraging everybody to go out and say this,” Paul Begala, the well-known Dem strategist, just told me by phone. “I’m hot for this. Let’s get this out every way we can.”

Begala is emerging as a major cheerleader and public face for this effort, though he says he’s not formally directing it. He described the effort as “organic” right now, though senior Democrats are discussing ways to formalize it.

Demonizing El Rushbo certainly has the potential to backfire. It's the kind of tactics you'd expect the GOP to use against Obama, and let's face it: demonizing Obama is most certainly the GOP's current strategy. Still, there's a big difference between demonizing Rush Limbaugh and the President: You can simply use Limbaugh's own words to do him in.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Atrios sez:
One of the bits of wrong conventional wisdom going into 2008 was that at some point the Republican presidential candidate and conservatives generally would break up with Bush somehow. I never believed this because for 8 years the entire identity of the conservative movement was George Bush. There was no way to do it.

I'm not sure why they're bothering to try now.
I'm 100% why they are trying now, and that's that the GOP has fully embraced becoming the Party Of Hoping America Collapses So They Can Rise From The Ashes. The inmates are running the asylum. CPAC is just the tip of the iceberg for these wackos, and I guarantee you that the completely delusional right-wingers are running stuff now, and the Bush/McCain Chamber of Commerce "big tent" wing of the party now only exists to be purged.

This includes guys like Mitt Romney, Charlie Crist, and Ahnold out in Cali, as well as centrists like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Arlen Specter. They will be driven out of the party by fire here in the next several years as the assault on Obama The Enemy grows into full-fledged insanity.

El Rushbo gave the plan away months ago and continues to reaffirm it almost daily: Obama must fail, and with him America must fail as well, for the GOP message of hate and violence to properly prosper. The rest of the GOP is beginning to publicly admit it. The same folks who screamed that dissent against Bush was tantamount to treason are now openly admitting they want the President to go down in flames and take your country with him.

The storm is coming, folks. It's going to be like nothing we've seen in generations. Obama will be singled out by the GOP as the cause of everything, and they will all but tacitly encourage America to rise up against him. The country is sadly underestimating the extent to which the deposed lunatics in the Republican Party will go.

They will not stop until somebody rids them of this troublesome President.

Obudget Battle

This week's Presidential Address takes on the budget and Obama's efforts to pass it.

The problem is Obama's budget is staggering: $3.55 trillion at last count. Not even I think all of that will be approved. Even with a 78-seat majority in the House, Obama is going to have to fight for every last dollar through Congress, and remember, last year a budget didn't even get passed. It fell to those omnibus spending bills that were extended to the last minute. Some of those bills still haven;t been passed, and the fiscal year ended back in September.

But the honest truth is we're down to the government as spender of last resort. If we don't get the economy going soon, we're facing the Lost Decade scenario. And remember, that suits the GOP just fine. They want a spending freeze and to permanently extend (if not increase) the Bush tax cuts...and throw in MORE tax cuts for corporations. They will do everything they can to block this budget for months and months, causing as much damage to the economy as possible.

Expect Blue Dog Democrats in the House and DINO senators to follow suit. The usual suspects are already whining about the budget, and corporate interests and wealthy Americans are already declaring war on Obama.

We'll see.

This Week's Busted Banks

Another Friday passes, another pair of banks end up dragged out on the pile of bodies by the FDIC.
Banks in Nevada and Illinois were seized by regulators, bringing this year’s tally to 16, as tumbling home prices and surging unemployment caused more borrowers to fall behind on loan payments.

Security Savings Bank of Henderson, Nevada, and Heritage Community Bank of Glenwood, Illinois, with combined assets of $471.2 million, were shut by state regulators and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was named receiver, the FDIC said yesterday. Bank of Nevada in Las Vegas is assuming Security Savings’ $175.2 million in deposits, while Heritage Community’s $218.6 million will go to MB Financial Bank of Chicago.

“Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage,” the FDIC said.

As regulators wrap up the busiest month for bank failures since 1993, they’re preparing to replenish the FDIC’s insurance fund, which dwindled by 45 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months to $18.9 billion. The FDIC said it will charge U.S. banks a one-time assessment and increase other fees amid estimates that bank closures could cost the fund $65 billion through 2013.

The FDIC shuttered 25 banks in 2008, including Washington Mutual Inc., the biggest U.S. bank to fail last year, and IndyMac Bank Inc., the second-largest. The 10 banks closed in February were in Oregon, California, Florida, Nebraska, Illinois, and Georgia and Nevada as foreclosures rose across the country.

10 banks a month is not exactly a really good thing here. The happy-face financial media says it's no big deal, but the FDIC is raising fees on banks in order to get cash for its emergency bank fund.
Facing a cascade of bank failures depleting the deposit insurance fund, federal regulators on Friday raised the fees paid by U.S. financial institutions and levied an emergency premium in a bid to collect $27 billion this year.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. now expects that bank failures will cost the insurance fund around $65 billion through 2013, up from an earlier estimate of $40 billion. The bank failures, 14 already this year following 25 last year, reflect the ravages of rising unemployment and falling home prices that have sent loan defaults soaring.

The FDIC said the economic crisis, which has caused the insurance fund to drop to its lowest level in nearly a quarter-century, also warranted extending the plan to rebuild the insurance fund from five years to seven.

The emergency premium, to be levied on the roughly 8,500 federally insured institutions on June 30, will be 20 cents for every $100 of their insured deposits. That compares with an average premium of 6.3 cents paid by banks and thrifts last year.

So yes, triple the fees charged to banks to keep customer deposits insured. That doesn't exactly strike me as a sign the FDIC isn't worried. Quite the opposite: the FDIC is expecting many, many more banks to fail in 2009 and well beyond.

We may be on a tad slower pace than two weeks ago, but we're still shooting for 96 bank closings in 2009, 8 banks a month. I honestly think that rate will rise, and it will rise soon.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition

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