Saturday, October 24, 2009

Last Call

Been a day away from the blog, even I get those. A couple of events to note today:

First, President Obama has declared a national emergency over the H1N1 virus.
The emergency declaration, signed by the president late Friday, enhances the ability of medical treatment facilities to handle a spike in influenza A (H1N1) patients by allowing medical officials to temporarily bypass certain federal requirements.

"The 2009 H1N1 pandemic continues to evolve," Obama said in the declaration.

"The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities."

The declaration comes just days after Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned that demand was outstripping supply of vaccine for the novel flu strain.

As Americans waited for more shipments of vaccine, 46 of the 50 states now report widespread swine flu activity -- an unusually early uptick that ordinarily takes place in January or February at the peak of a normal flu season.

No doubt this will be viewed as more Obamafascism, trying to get more vaccine to Americans faster in order to save American lives and prevent illness is of course an egregious offense that no doubt requires impeachment by a court of armed patriots.

Meanwhile in financial news, the commercial real estate depression I've been warning about just tripped a major set of alarm bells as lender Capmark Financial is about to declare bankruptcy.

It's happening. The long-awaited bankruptcy of big-time commercial real estate lender Capmark is just about here.

WSJ: In 2006, a group led by KKR & Co., Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Five Mile Capital Partners acquired the lender GMAC LLC's commercial-real estate business and renamed it Capmark. As of March 31, the investor group owned about 75% of the company, with GMAC and its employees owning the balance.

The Horsham, Pa., company recently reported a $1.6 billion second-quarter loss and warned it might be forced to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. KKR has already written down its investment in Capmark to zero.

Capmark recently entered an agreement to sell its North American servicing and mortgage-banking operations to a new company owned by Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway and Leucadia National Corp. for as much as $490 million. Under the deal's terms, the sale could occur while Capmark is in bankruptcy, but would require a bigger cash payment. Read the whole thing >

Even before the filing, the battles have begun.

Capmark is just the first. More will follow. We're nowhere near out of the woods, Dow 10,000 or not. The Icarus markets are about to rediscover that gravity is a harsh mistress.

A more regular schedule tomorrow.

Pushing Back

The White House is letting Washington know that the fight for the public option is on.

Multiple sources tell TPMDC that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is very close to rounding up 60 members in support of a public option with an opt out clause, and are continuing to push skeptical members. But they also say that the White House is pushing back against the idea, in a bid to retain the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

"They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger," said one source close to negotiations between the Senate and the White House. "they're certainly not calming moderates' concerns on opt out."

This new development, which casts the White House as an opponent of all but the most watered down form of public option, is likely to yield backlash from progressives, especially those in the House who have been pushing for a more maximal version of reform.

It also suggests for perhaps the first time that the White House's supposed hands off approach that ostensibly allowed the two chambers in Congress to craft their own bill has been discarded.

High level White House officials have floated the trigger idea a number of times, and it seems they continue to do so, even at this, crucial stage of the health care reform process, when their involvement is greatest. That has senators who support the public option concerned.

The question now is what form will the public option take? Will it be strong, or will it be a gift to the insurance companies?

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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