Thursday, December 31, 2009

Expulsion possible for state Sen. Hiram Monserrate in wake of conviction of assaulting girlfriend

Thursday, December 31st 2009, 4:00 AM

State Sen. Hiram Monserrate may be losing his Albany seat in the wake of his assault conviction.
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State Sen. Hiram Monserrate may be losing his Albany seat in the wake of his assault conviction.

ALBANY - A special Senate committee is likely to recommend lawmakers consider ousting state Sen. Hiram Monserrate for beating up his girlfriend, the Daily News has learned.

The committee, which has been reviewing the Senate's options regarding Monserrate since his conviction on assault charges, agrees he must be punished.

It expects to offer at least two options, one of which will be expulsion, a source with knowledge of the deliberations said.

Another recommendation will be some sort of censure, he added.

"It's very likely there will be a recommendation that some sanction be imposed and among the options presented will be expulsion," the source said.

The committee wants the Senate to consider each option, rather than "pick and choose," the source said. A final determination is expected next week.

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson has not said if he will let lawmakers vote on a resolution calling for Monserrate's expulsion.

"We are waiting for a full, finalized report," a spokesman said.

One Senate Democrat predicted ousting Monserrate would have "overwhelming" support but that Sampson was reluctant.

Monserrate, a Queens Democrat, was convicted in October of misdemeanor assault for slashing girlfriend Karla Giraldo in the face with a broken glass last December.

The committee, headed by Sen. Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan), determined that Monserrate failed to take responsibility for his actions and suggested he was not telling the truth when he claimed the slashing was an accident.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hiram Monserrate's Christmas Party Crashed By Gay Activists

Monserrate, who was convicted of misdemeanor assault charges in October for "unintentionally injuring girlfriend Karla Giraldo while dragging her through his apartment lobby," has been a target of the gay community since he voted against gay marriage earlier this month. The Queens lawmaker initially voiced his support for the bill.

Members of the LGBT activist group The Power disrupted the Queens party with anti-Monserrate cries referencing his assault trial and his broken promises to the LGBT community.

One activist screamed out, "It's the one-year anniversary of Hiram slashing his girlfriend! Hiram's a wife beater! He can get married and we can't!"

A video released by the activist group shows the protesters being ushered out of the building and confronting Monserrate's openly gay chief of staff Wayne Mahlke.


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Senate Report Rebukes Monserrate, No Sanctions...Yet

By Elizabeth Benjamin

A harshly-worded report by a special Senate committee all but accuses Sen. Hiram Monserrate of lying about the "accident" that left his girlfriend with a laceration on her face and rebukes him for failing to take full responsibility for the incident, according to a source familiar with the document.

The 55-page draft report rehashes the events of Dec. 19 that led to Monserrate's arrest and eventual conviction on a misdemeanor charge of assaulting Karla Giraldo.

It does not make any recommendations about whether the Queens Democrat should be further punished - either by censure or expulsion from the chamber - by his colleagues.

Members of the Senate committee created this fall to review Monserrate's case reviewed the report behind closed doors for three hours today. They will suggest changes and come to a determination about Monserrate's fate in the coming weeks.

The committee subpoenaed all the testimony and documents related to the grand jury that handed up felony assault charges against Monserrate, but was only granted access to some of what it sought - including Giraldo's testimony.

Neither Monserrate nor Giraldo agreed to cooperating with the committee, despite a pledge by the senator and his attorney to do so.

After reviewing Giraldo's testimony, the committee found many holes in her story and ultimately rejected her version of what happened on Dec. 19 as "inconsistent and unreliable," the source said.

The committee blasted Monserrate for failing to accept responsibility for his actions in numerous interviews that followed his conviction. It took particular issue with the fact that he has refused to call what happened between himself and Giraldo domestic violence.

The committee itself has no power to do anything to Monserrate. It can merely recommend actions to be voted on by the full Senate. A source knowledgeable about the committee's proceedings said its members are "moving toward broad consensus" about calling for action to be taken against the senator.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who chaired the Monserrate committee, said the members are "moving ahead" and "close to wrapping up." He refused to reveal whether the committee would recommend ousting Monserrate, saying only: "That won't be discussed until we finalize the report."

Scheiderman said he hopes the report will be finalized "in the next week or so." Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson said yesterday the committee won't likely complete its work before this year draws to a close at the end of the week.

- The DN's Kate Lucadamo contributed to this report.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Amigos Hold Unity Summit


It appears the Senate amigos are preparing to circle the wagons around Sen. Hiram Monserrate as the committee tasked with deciding his fate wraps up its work.

The fearsome foursome - including Monserrate himself - is scheduled to break bread this afternoon at the Nautilus Diner in Mamaroneck (yes, you read that right, the Westchester County suburb where Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. owns a home - but not his primary residence, of course).

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. confirmed the lunch meeting and the fact that all four of the amigos are scheduled to attend. But he was a bit vague on why it had been called.

"We're going to discuss the agenda for next year," he told me during an early-morning telephone interview. "We're going to talk about everything. Hiram? Yes. Our unity. Everything."

This comes as the committee convened by Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson to review of Monserrate's misdemeanor assault conviction and recommend potential additional sanctions is wrapping up its work and planning some sort of resolution before the end of 2009 (which, for the record, is Friday).

It's unclear whether Sampson will approve of letting an expulsion resolution come to the floor - either from the committee itself or from Sen. Brian Foley, who is threatening to take matters into his own hands.

Diaz Sr. insisted to me that he's not worried about Monserrate getting booted from the Senate, even as his opponents claim there are sufficient votes in the chamber between the Democrat and Republican conferences to do so.

"They've got to be careful what they wish for, that's all I have to say," the Bronx senator said. "I wish Sen. Foley luck...Let's see who will be out of the Senate next year."

Foley is one of the GOP's top targets in the rapidly escalating 2010 battle for control of the chamber.

He already has one declared Republican opponent, Lee Zeldin, who ran an unsuccessful campaign to oust Rep. Tim Bishop last fall.

But he also has some strong allies. The LGBT community has pledged to protect Foley in gratitude for his constroversial "yes" vote on marriage.

Diaz Sr. didn't mention marriage while chatting with me this morning, but he did note that there's a tough new DWI law - Leandra's Law - that makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child in the car.

There have been a number of drunk-driving arrests in Albany in recent years, although none that would have triggered Leandra's Law.

The most notable resulted in a guilty plea from Monserrate's predecessor, former Sen. John Sabini, who bowed out of the 2008 primary and cleared the way for then-Councilman Monserrate after losing the support of the Queens Democratic Party.

I think Diaz Sr.'s oblique Leandra's Law reference was intended to make the "slippery slope" point - in other words: If senators start booting their colleagues after the courts have already rendered judgment in a manner that lets them keep their seats, where will the line be drawn?

As a mogul, politican, trailblazer, war hero, Percy Sutton was a man of ambition

Errol Louis

Monday, December 28th 2009, 4:00 AM

Percy Sutton once offered Daily News columnist Errol Louis unique career advice: Whenever you take a job, start planning for the next one.
Percy Sutton once offered Daily News columnist Errol Louis unique career advice: Whenever you take a job, start planning for the next one.

The early newspaper obituary descriptions of Percy Sutton - politician, civil rights lawyer, media mogul - barely scratch the surface of what Sutton meant to Harlem and America.

He was uniquely gifted and successful, but also part of a greatest generation of black leadership that came of age during the darkest days of Jim Crow segregation and tenaciously set about the business of dismantling it.

The fortysomething black professionals of my generation have spent a fair amount of time trying to crack the code of this spectacularly talented cohort, whose story has never been fully told. Even growing up near and around them, Sutton and his contemporaries seemed a legion of supermen and women whose drive, daring and achievement could be admired but never equaled.

The long, horrific shadow of legal segregation was still firmly in place when Sutton was born 89 years ago - his father was a slave, for God's sake - but that didn't stop a wave of men and women from becoming doctors, dentists, judges and businessmen.

And bona fide war heroes. Sutton was one of the legendary Tuskeegee Airmen, who flew more than 1,500 combat missions during World War II. Then he set up shop as one of only a handful of black lawyers serving Harlem in the 1960s.

I remember the pride and hushed admiration in my mother's voice when she told me some obscure bit of routine family business had been handled by Sutton, who was Malcolm X's lawyer. It was a big deal.

Many years later, it was a big deal for me to sit next to Sutton at a college lecture in commemoration of the late Andy Cooper, another Sutton contemporary who founded and published the now-defunct City Sun black newspaper.

In the few minutes before the program started, I got a chance to chat with Sutton. Upon telling him I had recently been named a columnist and Editorial Board member of the Daily News, he responded with the same crisp, commanding voice I'd heard on TV so often.

Sutton: "Excellent. So when are you planning to move [on]?"

Me: "Well, umm ..."

Sutton: "I salute your achievement. But whenever you take a job, you should be planning for the next one."

Point taken.

Sutton himself was a man of restless, driving ambition. In a feat of near-suicidal work ethic, he worked two full-time jobs - one on the overnight shift - while attending Brooklyn Law School. It was something I remembered while doing my own slog through the law school's evening division after full days at the newspaper.

After settling on politics as a career, Sutton launched a series of failed campaigns before winning an Assembly seat, moving up to Manhattan borough president and then launching a bid for mayor in 1977. Along the way, he also helped plan and stage the audacious political coup that unseated Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the legendary Harlem congressman, and installed Charlie Rangel.

Ex-Mayor David Dinkins, a close friend of Sutton's, has always maintained that Sutton's unsuccessful run for mayor in 1977 set the stage for his own historic election 12 years later as New York's first black mayor. What Sutton established, says Dinkins, was a level of credibility and classiness that made the notion of a black mayor possible.

AND WHEN Sutton decided he'd had enough of politics, he made history again as a media operator, with flagship station WBLS-FM and its star jock, Frankie Crocker, winning monster ratings and defining urban radio nationwide. Later forays into cable television and renovation of the fabled Apollo Theater brought controversy along with riches.

But to his credit, Sutton remained true to Harlem, never leaving for a wealthy suburb.

You'd see him moving here and there, always dressed to the nines, ready with a smile and a wave and the look of a man looking for the next adventure.

His generation's excellence was born of social and cultural pressures that many people can scarcely imagine or remember. It acted the way geologic heat and pressure convert coal into diamonds.

That is how Sutton will be remembered uptown: as a leader, a legend and a shining jewel of a man.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Percy Sutton, civil rights activist, attorney and NY political figure dies at 89

NY Government Examiner
December 27, 9:21 AM
NY Government Examiner

By Michael A. Harris

He was the son of a slave, a mentor to Rev. Jesse Jackson, lawyer for Malcolm X and prominent figure in New York politics and a fixture in the Harlem community, Percy Sutton died late last night at the age of 89, his longtime friend Governor David A. Paterson said late last night.

After serving in World War II and Korea as one of the Tuskegee Airmen Sutton, the youngest of 15 children opened a law office on 125th Street in Harlem, where he'd spend decades representing Malcolm X and later the slain leader's family, as well as taking on many prominent civil rights cases.

Sutton would go on to serve a long career in politics, representing the neighborhood as a member of the New York State Assembly. In 1966 Sutton was appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of Manhattan Borough President, making him the highest-ranking black politician in the state. He later mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the United States Senate and New York City Mayor, and served as political mentor for Rev. Jesse Jackson's two presidential races.

Jackson often referred to Sutton as "The Godfather."

David N. Dinkins, the city's first black mayor said, "I stand on the shoulders of Percy Sutton."

Paterson referred to Sutton as “A trailblazer, one of New York’s and this nation’s most influential African-American leaders – a man whom I am proud to have called a friend and mentor throughout my entire career.

"It was Percy Sutton who talked me into running for office and who has continued to serve as one of my most valued advisors ever since," said Paterson. “Percy was fiercely loyal, compassionate and a truly kind soul. He will be missed, but his legacy lives on through the next generations of African-Americans he inspired to pursue and fulfill their own dreams and ambitions."

Sutton would go on to serve as a media mogul, building largest network of black radio stations in the country. At one point Sutton owned a majority holding of The Amsterdam News, the country's second largest African-American weekly newspaper.

"He was a great man," Charles Warfield Jr., the president and chief operating officer of ICBC Broadcast Holdings Inc., told the Associated Press early this morning. He declined to comment further out of respect, he indicated, for the wishes of Sutton's family.

Sutton is also credited with the rebirth of the historic Apollo Theater. In 1981 he spent $250,000 to purchase the then shuttered Apollo Theater. The Apollo turned 70 in 2004, a milestone that was unthinkable until Sutton stepped in to save the landmark.

Rev. Al Sharpton has scheduled a press conference for this afternoon to remember the life of Sutton, who is survived by his daughter, Cheryl, who has declined to speak with the media.

The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Friday, December 25, 2009

New York's Community-Labor Divide A nasty split as the Council finally bucks the mayor

By Tom Robbins

Tuesday, December 22nd 2009 at 3:56pm

It's just our luck that the first time the City Council actually musters the courage to face down Mike Bloomberg, it's to kill a plan that—whatever its flaws—would have put hard-pressed New Yorkers back to work.

Not that it wasn't a huge thrill watching it happen.

A riled-up and all but unanimous Council voted 45-1 last week against the mayor's scheme to hand the cavernous old Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx—property of the City of New York—over to his favorite developer. The plan was to create a profitable mega-mall, kick-started with some $50 million in tax breaks and subsidies. The developer is the mighty Related Companies, the outfit that has defined the look of ostentatious wealth in the Bloomberg era. They have the soaring Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, with its glittering shops and condos. Right up the street here at Astor Place, they built the hideous "sculpture for living." It is 21 floors of mirrored glass and contains all of 39 apartments.

It was a thrill, too, because Related's top people are personal friends of the richest New Yorker: Steve Ross is one of those who whispered in Bloomberg's ear last year, urging him to grab that third term. Ross was once a business partner of Dan Doctoroff, Bloomberg's old top deputy. Doctoroff is now back in the private sector running something called Bloomberg LP. When Related partner Jeff Blau recently needed references to help him land a lush pad in an exclusive Fifth Avenue co-op, the mayor wrote a nice letter and called people on the board on Blau's behalf (he was still rejected). Among the rich, this is called networking. It could also be called a conflict of interest, but the city board charged with examining such things is too busy scrutinizing school teachers and sanitation workers to notice.

How well is this crew from Related doing? Just last week, they opened their own bank. They modestly called it SJB National, a clever combination of the initials of the first names of Related's owners. Already, they have lined up a billion dollars in deposits. They are prospering even more on Manhattan's far West Side, where Related is the city's designated developer of a $15 billion project that will rise over the sprawling rail yards. This, too, is being accomplished with a massive package of city tax aid and investment.

These are the same people who reacted with outrage when local Bronx residents and unions demanded that retail jobs at the city-subsidized mall be more than part-time employment and pay above minimum wage. "That would make us uncompetitive!" screeched Related's owners, their faces scrunched in horror.

The demand also horrified their friend the mayor. Even as his advisers told him that the Council would vote down the project without a wage deal, Bloomberg thundered against it, offended by the very notion. The Friday before the vote, the wealthiest New Yorker appeared on his regular radio show, hosted by his ever-agreeable pal, John Gambling. "It is not the city's business—it is not government's business—to tell companies that they should pay more," he sputtered. He brought himself up short when he realized he had just denounced the basis of all government wage legislation since the Great Depression. "There are federal minimum-wage laws," he quickly added, "and those are fine."

Moments later, his inner Ayn Rand was back in full control: "The bottom line is the marketplace is the marketplace," he proclaimed.

So true. In fact, the marketplace being what it is, the minute that a gleaming-new, tax-subsidized food store opens at the armory, the longtime merchants across the street are likely to start going out of business. These are firms employing hundreds of local residents, many at union wages, with benefits—merchants who held on through the worst of the "Bronx Is Burning" years.

Those were some of the issues that were persuasive to the Bronx's young new borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr., who became an outspoken champion of a "living wage" deal for the armory. Bronx Council members—bitterly divided over the past year—also became united on the issue. This, in turn, inspired Council speaker Christine Quinn, who is eager to shed her reputation as the mayor's often-compliant partner.

The result, on December 14, was a City Council almost giddy at the prospect of finally defying the mayor. The same council that had largely rolled over for Bloomberg on some 200 previous zoning issues, the same council that cravenly conspired to let him overturn term limits last year, was aboil at the thrill of saying, at long last, "No." You could see it in the smiling, whispered asides as members popped up from their chairs and raced across the aisle to consult with friends and allies. Big Bill de Blasio, who will take over as Public Advocate in a couple of weeks, loped across the room, bending over to murmur encouragement to his troops.

It was a moment of long-delayed political empowerment that was thrilling to watch. And then, just as quickly, the thrill was gone. Outside on the City Hall steps was a handful of dejected-looking representatives of the city's construction building trades. These days, their recession-battered ranks have a 40 percent unemployment rate. The armory plan would have employed 1,000 of their members, jobs that went up in smoke the minute the Council vote was tallied.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reaction from across political spectrum to health vote

Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor December 24, 2009 09:56 AM
As one might expect, the reaction is pouring in from across the political spectrum to the Senate's historic vote this morning on its health care overhaul.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said that the bill does not include enough limits on abortion coverage:

"On Christmas Eve, the U.S. Senate gave Americans a gift no one wants: abortion for all, at taxpayer-expense. Even more tragic, they can thank self-described ‘pro-life’ senators like Ben Nelson, Bob Casey, Jr., and Harry Reid for paving the way for legislation that will open the floodgates for the greatest expansion of government-backed abortion since Roe v. Wade.

"Today’s vote was a career-affecting vote. The senators who voted to advance this legislation should consider themselves on notice. Votes have consequences, and the Susan B. Anthony List will use all the resources at our disposal to educate their constituents about today’s result. As this debate moves forward, pro-life House members would do well to consider the impact of their own votes. Abortion is never good for women, and it should never be a legitimate aspect of any ‘health care’ debate.

"If this bill is signed into law, for the first time, federally funded and managed health care plans will cover elective abortions. Pro-life Americans in states that choose to ‘opt-out’ of abortion coverage will still be forced to foot the bill for abortions in California and New York.

"This is not ‘compromise’ or ‘middle ground.’ The only ones who support the senate abortion language are a handful of senators so far-removed from the consciences of their own constituents that it’s laughable. Discussions of ‘different accounts’ and ‘separate checks’ are just a smokescreen.

"This bill is a betrayal of conscience for millions of Americans. And it is a betrayal of the principles proclaimed by Reid, Nelson, and Casey. Today’s vote is exactly the type of ‘leadership’ that repels the American electorate. Americans are hungry for authenticity. They are hungry for leaders whose actions follow their principles, for stalwart representatives who will never abandon their convictions for a sweet deal. Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve 2009, as a result of that lack of real leadership, Americans received the gift of abortion in the name of ‘health care reform.’

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he preferred the House bill, largely because the Senate bill would tax the most generous health plans -- ones that union members have bargained for in place of pay hikes.

"In the face of inexcusable partisanship, obstruction and gamesmanship, it is remarkable that Majority Leader Reid was able to move a health care bill through the United States Senate. Not since the passage of Medicare 44 years ago have we seen Republican scare tactics so blatantly contrary to the interests of the American people.

"At this historic moment, it is so important to the future of working Americans—and to our country—to get health care reform right. Despite doing some good things, the Senate bill remains inadequate. Substantial changes must be made in the final bill. Genuine reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance companies accountable, assure that all Americans can get the health care they need and be financed fairly. That’s why we have been steadfast in support of a public health insurance option. It is the way to break the stranglehold of the insurance industry that has led to skyrocketing health care costs that have especially penalized small business.

"Employers must pay their fair share. It makes no sense to tax the benefits of hard-working Americans to pay for health reform. The House bill curbs insurance companies and taxes the wealthy who benefited so richly from the Bush tax cuts. The Senate bill instead includes exorbitant new taxes on middle class health benefits that would affect one in five workers with employer-provided health coverage—or about 31 million people—in 2016. That’s the wrong way to pay for health care reform and it’s political suicide."

"The House bill is the right model for reform. It covers more people, takes effect more quickly and is financed more fairly. The AFL-CIO is ready to fight on behalf of all working families to produce a final bill that can be called genuine reform. Working people cannot accept anything less."

Tom McMahon, acting executive director of the liberal-labor coalition Americans United for Change, said that improvements are needed to the bill in the House-Senate negotiations:

“Today we are one another step closer to guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for all Americans. There is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure the best possible bill reaches President Obama’s desk. But when historians look back on this moment – and they will – it will mark a turning point in our long struggle to build a health care system Americans deserve. It may also leave a remarkable and indelible imprint on the Republican Party, whose decision to put political posturing before the needs of millions of Americans will tarnish the reputation of the GOP for years to come.

“Under the Senate bill, more than 30 million people will gain health coverage. The Medicare program will be stronger and the federal deficit smaller. People with pre-existing health conditions won’t be rejected or charged higher premiums by insurers, and women will no longer have to pay more than men for the same coverage. Seniors will have expanded prescription drug coverage and young adults will have easy access to health insurance. Americans from every corner of the country will have a reason to be thankful for the Senate’s action today.”

James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, continued to offer his group's significant support:

“Today, the Senate took an historic vote to improve our nation’s health care system by expanding coverage to millions of Americans and strengthening the private insurance market to better serve the patients who rely on it. The AMA supported passage of the bill because it contains a number of key improvements for our health care system, which currently is not working for far too many patients or the physicians who dedicate their lives to patient care.

“The Senate bill will improve choice and access to affordable health insurance coverage and eliminate denials based on pre-existing conditions. It will increase coverage for preventive and wellness care that can lead to better disease prevention and management, and further the development of comparative effectiveness research that can help patients and physicians make informed treatment decisions. Patients will no longer face lifetime limits on health coverage or higher premiums based on medical conditions or gender.

“While this vote closes one chapter of the legislative process, the hard work is not yet done. The AMA will stay constructively engaged throughout the House and Senate conference process to continue to improve the final bill and assure the best outcome for patients and physicians. Important issues that need to be resolved in the House-Senate conference committee include the scope, authority, accountability and transparency of a payment advisory board. The details of several cost control and quality improvement initiatives also need to be refined so that they do not have unintended consequences for patients and physicians.

“Separate action is needed early next year to permanently repeal the current Medicare physician payment formula to preserve access to care for America’s seniors, baby boomers and military families by creating a stable physician payment system. We commend Senators Reid and Baucus for keeping the focus on a permanent solution to this problem, and we will continue to work closely with them to fix the flawed Medicare physician payment formula once and for all early in the new year.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele continued his assault on the bill:

“This morning, as millions of Americans prepared to gather with their families in celebration of Christmas, President Obama and Harry Reid gathered with their liberal allies in celebration of government. Mr. Reid and company honored President Obama’s Christmas wish for increased federal control and passed their government-run health care experiment out of the Senate.

"Immediately following this vote, in a telling and strangely ironic legislative move, the Democrats voted to increase America’s credit card limit because even they know their deficit reduction claims are false. If they were truly proud of this so-called ‘historic’ legislation then they should have stood by their pledge and allowed Senators and the American people 72 hours to read the full legislative text prior to voting instead of secretly rushing it through on Christmas Eve. In fact, most Democrats aren’t proud of this legislation and only voted for it after months of closed door meetings, back room deal making, and political compromise with Harry Reid and the White House. The Democrats have put a $2.5 trillion lump of coal in the stocking of every American knowing that their risky health care experiment still increases premiums, still cuts Medicare, and still enacts hundreds of billions of new taxes to pay for it. Scrooge would be proud. I know a majority of Americans are not. As we move forward, America can look forward to watching Nancy Pelosi conduct the arm-twisting needed to convince her most liberal colleagues that the Senate version is the best Trojan horse possible to hide a true single payer system, which is what this debate has always been about. This Christmas, the Democrats and President Obama have given America the one gift that keeps on taking.”

AARP CEO A. Barry Rand and Massachusetts State Director Deborah Banda praised the vote, but said the final bill needs to do more to close the so-called doughnut hole in Medicare drug coverage:

“This morning the Senate brought us closer to meaningful health care reform than we have ever been before. Passage of the Senate health care reform bill clears the way for Congress to enact legislation in the coming weeks that will protect and strengthen Medicare, ensure millions more Americans can get affordable health coverage and sharply curtail discriminatory insurance company practices that keep those most in need out of the system," Rand said in a statement.

“The bill passed by the Senate makes needed progress to prevent coverage denials due to health status and limit insurance companies from charging older Americans much more for coverage because of their age. It also begins to close the dangerous gap in Medicare drug coverage known as the doughnut hole, and Senate leaders have committed that a final bill will close the gap entirely by 2019, in keeping with the President’s pledge. In addition, the Senate bill adds important new Medicare benefits, like free preventive care, and encourages states to provide more home and community-based long-term care services and supports instead of costlier institutional care.

Banda added:

“AARP thanks the Senate for passing health care reform that protects guaranteed Medicare benefits and helps ensure older Americans can afford quality health services. The legislation is needed to lower drug costs, limit age discrimination by health insurance companies and strengthen long-term care.

“We believe this legislation can be improved even further, especially when it comes to the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, called the doughnut hole. More then 300,000 Bay State seniors will likely fall into the Medicare doughnut hole next year, costing each up to $3,610 in added health care costs. Both the House and Senate versions of the health reform bill will bring them some immediate relief by narrowing the coverage gap. But some relief isn't enough. We urge the members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation to pass a final health reform bill that closes the dreaded doughnut hole completely over time – so seniors can afford to take the medicine that keeps them healthy and out of more expensive care.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rudy out of the running: What it means for G.O.P.

By Dan Janison

For the second campaign cycle in a row, ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani won't make it to a statewide New York ballot. In 2008, the Republicans had hoped he'd pull up their state Senate candidates and forestall the fate that befell them -- loss of the house majority for the first time in four decades. This time, he was rumored first to be a candidate for governor, next as a candidate for U.S. Senate. But for reasons that in the end can only be known only to the man himself, Giuliani will forego the whole 2010 scene.

The speculation all along has been that he had no real reason to sacrifice the money and freedom from personal intrusions that the private sector offers him. All the talk about a "stepping-stone" for 2012 might have been wishful thinking by his mostly suburban fan base; more likely, a loss at the polls in this blue state next year -- especially at the hands of Kirsten Gillibrand -- could mean an almost certain bar to such an ambition. Anyway, at no point did Giuliani, who sincerely exhorts others to "prepare relentlessly" for tasks in his speeches and books, appear to be studying up for a new role. Ed Cox became state party chairman despite his expressed desires to the contrary, which might also have told him that the people who make up the state organization weren't ready to simply invest their collective redemption in his efforts.

The upcoming season will surely be less of a tabloid opera without him -- buffa, seria, or otherwise.

On the Democratic side, this could reduce the more panicky rationale for an Andrew Cuomo candidacy for governor -- if it removes a major threat to that party's loyalists that the G.O.P. will win the Executive Mansion. Democratic operatives have for months seen Giuliani as unlikely to run for anything, and backers of Rick Lazio have given no hint of regarding Giuliani as anything other than benigh to their cause.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gov. David Paterson: Health care reform bill punishes New York

By Kenneth Lovett

Monday, December 21st 2009, 8:48 AM

Gov. David Paterson says the health care bill is not the right prescription for New York state.
Lombard for News
Gov. David Paterson says the health care bill is not the right prescription for New York state.

Would the national health care reform bill be good for New Yorkers?

ALBANY - Gov. Paterson Monday declared that New York is being "punished" by the national health care bill expected to be voted on by Christmas.

New York stands to lose between $1.1 billion to $1.25 billion a year if the bill is adopted unchanged, Paterson told Buffalo's WBEN-AM radio.

Even though the goal of the legislation is to get as many people insured as possible, Paterson complained that New York is hurt by already having provided government-funded healthcare to a larger share of its residents.

Under the bill, he said, other states are being rewarded by enlisting more Medicaid recipients.

"New York can't do that, we're at the limit," he said. "We are, in a sense, by the bill being punished for our own charity.

"If this bill is encouraging the idea of having fewer people needing health insurance, then you would think that since New York already complied with that standard, we would get some equitable benefit for doing what Washington is doing now."

He said that New York Massachusetts and Vermont were the hardest hits states by the legislation, but "sweetners" were added in recent days to help those other two states.

The Medicaid plan, he said, has long hurt New York because it reimburses states based on per capita income as opposed to the poverty rate.

While New York's poverty rate is 25% of the national average, its per capita income is among the highest, Paterson said.

He also reiterated that New York sends far more tax money to Washington, D.C., than it gets back than any other state, including California, which has twice the population.

"Washington really has got to be more fair with New York State, which has been the bailout package for the rest of the country for the past decade," he said.

The U.S. Senate in a rare late-night session Monday morning voted along party lines to move the bill forward. A final version of the bill is expected to be approved by Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thank you, Sen. Franken

Thank you, Sen. Franken

Senate Dems are saying he stifled Joe Lieberman to keep debate on track. Liberals are happy, whatever the reason Video
YouTube screenshot

Liberals across cyberspace cheered Thursday when Sen. Al Franken declined to give Sen. Joe Lieberman an additional two minutes to drone on about amendments to the Senate healthcare provision he is single-handledly making worse. Talking Points Memo got the video, here it is.

On "Hardball" today, Chris Matthews asked me whether I thought it was merely a procedural move -- Senate leadership released a statement saying all senators had been asked to hasten the debate -- or whether it was political. I said it was political, and it was a "satisfying" moment for liberals, since President Obama's team has spent time vilifying Howard Dean for opposing the bill, but hasn't said word one about Lieberman hijacking it. (I also say more about why I oppose Dean's call to kill the bill.) Here's the video:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Being David Paterson

December 15, 2009 | 7:17 p.m
Being David Paterson

ALBANY—What is David Paterson thinking?

Polls show he’s more than 40 points behind Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary, he’s got next to no friends left in Albany and, in all likelihood, he’ll be shown to have raised embarrassingly little money for a sitting governor at the next filing deadline in January.

So when he remains on the attack, going out of his way to antagonize the Legislature as he grapples with a projected $9 billion budget deficit; and when he continues to joke confidently at public appearances as if he doesn’t have a care in the world; and when he says he running for governor no matter what—is it a prideful bluff? Is it a deluded but genuine commitment to making the race? Or is it something else entirely?

After all, any reasonable analysis of conventional political mores, historical precedent and the current political climate in New York tells us that it’s all the result of a rational calculation, and that the governor is doing exactly what he has to do.

“If he’s not in the hunt, it diminishes his capacity to do his job,” said Gerald Benjamin, a professor of political science at SUNY New Paltz. “He has to stay in the hunt, even if he’s not. The minute he announces he’s a lame duck, he’s a lame duck.”

But other people in Democratic politics aren’t sure.

“It’s strange,” said Bill Montfort, chairman of the Warren County Democratic Party. “It’s strange that he keeps pressing on. But hey, you know, Spitzer thinks that he can make a comeback, too. I don’t know. I have no idea. Nobody’s committing to anything, even Andrew isn’t saying anything. Nobody’s committing to anything because they’re waiting to see what this guy does, and he keeps going forward.”

“He thinks he can turn this around,” said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “But look at Andrew Cuomo’s numbers. How does he even get close?”

Certainly, the governor isn’t acting like a politician who’s too worried about his standing in the polls.

At a ceremony last Friday, when he signed a bill to provide more oversight of public authorities, he stood in front of a blue curtain at his Manhattan office, joined by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as well as the bill’s sponsors: Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester County Democrat, and State Senator Bill Perkins, who holds the Harlem seat that Mr. Paterson vacated when he became lieutenant governor in 2007.

Mr. Silver seemed more dour than usual. That morning’s Post contained a report of Mr. Paterson’s saying he would urinate “when the Legislature is under me.” (Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for Mr. Paterson, later said the quote was inaccurate. “Cindy asked the governor if he has pissed off anyone lately, and he said ‘probably the Legislature.’”) He had been denouncing lawmakers on talk radio for shirking their responsibility to address a midyear deficit, though members of Mr. Silver’s chamber had quietly been ready to support some of Mr. Paterson’s more severe proposals. The theme was repeated later in the week, when Mr. Paterson gave a speech to business leaders on Wall Street about his fiscal initiatives.

“So you were hanging out in my district,” Mr. Silver grumbled next to a live microphone. “I heard you’re going back somewhere else Monday, to Wall Street? The Stock Exchange? I own that.”

“You own the Stock Exchange?” Mr. Paterson shot back. “Well, I have to make sure to have you come along.”

Mr. Silver laughed disingenuously and the event began. Mr. Paterson’s opening paragraph mentioned that Mr. Brodsky—long a champion of authority oversight—could now “die in peace.”

Mr. Brodsky looked stunned, turning directly to Mr. Paterson and saying, “Happy Hanukkah to you, Governor.” Reached by phone later, Mr. Brodsky declined to speak about the incident. (Later, in a phone interview, Mr. Brodsky said, “David uses humor for a number of purposes—because he likes to laugh, as a rhetorical tool, to make a point and sometimes as a defense mechanism. And it works most of the time. People who try to read stuff into the successful or failed jokes are not sensible and not fair to him.”)

“It seems like he’s taken some gloves off,” said Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, the chairman of the Manhattan Democratic Party. “You have to be yourself, and I think he’s being more of himself.”

And “himself” is, according to several people close to the governor, a person who works best under pressure and pushes back when pushed. It is not desperation, the people insist, despite Mr. Paterson’s occasionally erratic behavior. He is still fighting, with the perceived futility of his efforts seen (but not publicly admitted) by some of his closest allies but not by him. In fact, said one person who has seen Mr. Paterson recently, he has made the switch into “serious campaign mode.”

“I think his head’s in a good place, and what I mean by that is that I think he’s geared up to run and he knows what it’s going to take for him to be a winner come next year,” said Bill Lynch, a political consultant who advises Mr. Paterson. “That’s not a change. I think he’s always been there, as far as I’m concerned. He’s just stepping up his game.”
As much as he can. After last Wednesday’s Wall Street speech, Mr. Paterson held a fund-raiser at 24 Fifth, a cozy venue where he mingled with lobbyists over smoked salmon and soft licks from a jazz trio.

“I am running for governor in 2010!” Mr. Paterson told the room, according to someone in it. “If it doesn’t work out, I’m going to go on The View. They need a little affirmative action on The View.”

“I think the governor is focused on leading the state out of the fiscal crisis, and is concentrating all of his energies on that effort, and I think he is obviously reaching out and trying to give people confidence in his ability to lead the state through a very difficult time,” said Kathryn Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City, who was at the fund-raiser.

After the event, Mr. Paterson adjourned to the nearby Cru with several high-dollar contributors for a “Champagne toast.”

It’s unclear the extent to which this rage at legislators, too, is calculated. Mr. Paterson has trumpeted it for the past several weeks, hoping to increase his standing in the polls by picking on the only group less popular than himself. But it is rooted, too, in animosity dating to this summer. Mr. Paterson blasted senators for a crippling leadership struggle, and they blasted back. One accused the governor of selling “woof tickets.” Another, Kevin Parker, called Mr. Paterson a “coke-snorting, staff-banging governor.”

“I think that David was very, for want of a better word, hurt that the Senate blamed him for some of their internal problems back in July. I think that there’s a certain level of, I think he’s still smarting there from their anger. But I don’t think that really shows,” said Mr. Wright. “He’s issued all the clarion calls, and he didn’t quite get it, and I don’t think he really understands why they don’t get the severity.”

His repeated attacks suggest more than pure calculation. After his interactions with Messrs. Silver and Brodsky, Mr. Paterson went on the radio Sunday and called legislators “liars.” He then returned to the blue-curtained briefing room to announce he was stalling payments to schools and local governments. It was the legislators’ fault.

And so the attacks continued.

“The reality is that they only temporarily delayed the day of reckoning that has now come today,” Mr. Paterson said. “The question is, who is going to wake up and face reality, and who is going to keep sleeping on the job.”

And so, for now, does the campaign.

“He doesn’t give up,” Mr. Sheinkopf said, with a note of pathos. “He doesn’t give up. Not his nature.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dilan to MTA: Keep me in the loop, or else

Using extremely blunt language, Dilan’s letter to chairman Jay Walder notes his worry that this more recent communication breakdown is indicative of a bad case of same-old-same-old, and sends the message that MTA CFO Gary Dellaverson might need to let the press office handle the media relations.

On the plus side, he suggests that a contentious relationship would be good for newspaper revenues.

The full text:

Dear Chairman Walder:

I am writing you today to discuss the unfortunate circumstances regarding my lack of notification of budgetary shortfalls within the Metropolitan Transportation Agency. Specifically, I find it disappointing that members of your staff would notify the media, while excluding my colleagues and I in the Legislature.

To be clear, my sentiments are not rooted within the action of notifying the press, I simply believe your organization should provide the Legislature with the same consideration we have provided you. Both, prior to your arrival, with the new revenue package advanced in May, and throughout your nomination process, we have continually relied and agreed upon the importance of an open dialogue. I am disappointed that your commitment to an openness within the MTA and initiating a new era of accountability and transparency has not begun to take shape.

It is an affront to our burgeoning partnership, often discussed in previous months, to exclude us from this critical information. Additionally, it is difficult to think that our exclusion was not simply a matter of being overlooked. One can only conclude that by going to the press first, your organization was in fact using the media to once again stir the bees’ nest, rallying fears of insufficient funding and potential fare increases and service cuts.

In conclusion, this occurrence reflects my greatest fear regarding the MTA. It appears, even under new leadership, that business will continue as usual with Gary Dellaverson assuming the additional role of press secretary for the MTA. Instead of a cooperative exchange of thoughts and information, we may be left with an adversarial relationship played out in the press. While this may be good for newspaper revenues, it will not be good for the State of New York or for the state of the MTA.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response.

Will the MTA Destroy NYC?

Will the MTA Destroy NYC?

During the 60's, 70's and early 80's the symbol of decay driving business and people out of the city was the subway. The delay, broken trains, dirty stations, homeless not to mention the graffiti sent a message that the city downfall was our of control. Now after two decades of an complete makeover that worked, signs are pointing to a return to the subways bad old days. New Yorkers know that the subway are the life blood of the city. They also know like any good doctor that once those veins become deceased the body will soon die. New Yorker have been watching a state government which would drain even the most hopefu, fail to save the MTA from Doomsday Cuts. Now after the state bailout that raised taxi fees and taxes to freelance workers the state last week poured oil on the fire when it grabbed $143 million from the transit agency to fill its own massive budget gaps.

The broken promises
did not end with the elected officials Two weeks ago the new MTA chairman Jay Walder told us there would be no fare hike in 2010. Now with the crap Albany put in place just 7 months ago, increasing everything from rental cars to cab fees and adding a payroll tax to save the MTA from doomsday service cuts, we are told they did not raise enough cash. The MTA needs a bailout from its bailout and the MTA looks to slash many bus routes, cut W, Z subway lines. We have not even talk about the fact that the 25 billion capital budget the MTA needs to keep the subway in good condition is unfunded. On May 4th after the failed bailout plan was announced GOV: LET'S DEAL WITH MTA CAPITAL BUDGET LATER * Molinaro on the M.T.A.: 'We're Screwed' , 2nd Avenue Subway Sickness? Will the subways decline again and trigger another mass exodus of the city? This time we not only have to deal with service cuts. We have to deal with a state government and MTA that the public no longer believes is telling the truth Maybe the MTA should hire lucky Leo to raise revenue? Man Makes $45K Yearly on Discarded Betting Slips Clueless Subway Goo Goos Don't Help How in the world can good government group leader and media star Gene Russianoff say the best thing to happen to the MTA was the bailout when we now know the bailout has failed, the 25 billion capital budget is unfunded and the raise in fees and taxes are driving business and the middle class out? Best and Worst in NYC Transit in 2009 , Dilan to MTA: Keep me in the loop, or else , Nicole Gelinas suggests service cuts that hit key state lawmakers' districts.

The NYT Can Break the Albany Wall Of Silence Today All the NYT has to do is ask questions to the leaders of Albany. They can even email the same question to all the elected officials. Why not use the excellent information that the U.S. Attorney who got Bruno Andrew Baxter said about the state's ethics and disclosure laws. He said Albany covers it tracks so well that is make it much harder for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute public corruption involving state officials. There's just so little transparency in the legislative process that it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to uncover what really happened." We like to see the NYT asked everyone in Albany why they operate in secrecy like organize crime and the only the only time transparency comes into play is when they make campaign promises to do more of it during election time. Meanwhile the U.S. Attorney is still looking at the legislature

Everything Changes from Day One A reunion tour that despite rumors will not be sponsored by former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg Gov on comptrol race: Spitz fits! *** A Lie from A Public Spokeman, Shocking State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is "not concerned about who runs against him" in 2010, according to a spokesman It not good to lie when the top deputy controller is involved in a corruption investigation. Is this all there is to journalism in 2010, the press filling out copy on their pages with BS from flacks? * The jury is still out on whether the stimulus cash created jobs, DiNapoli said during a stop in Binghamton.

Friday, December 11, 2009


By Rafael Martínez Alequín

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Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced today that he cannot and will not support any agreement on the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment proposal that does not include a mandatory living wage component for retail workers at the site, and is urging the City Council to defeat the plan when it comes up for a vote on Monday.

“From the first day I got involved in the issue of the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory, I made it crystal clear that I would not support this project unless it included a guarantee that the employees at the future retail center would be paid a living wage. Though the wage supplement provisions that the Bloomberg administration has put forward represent a major step forward compared to our negotiations six months ago, there is no guarantee. With that said, I will continue to oppose this project, and I urge the members of the City Council to do the same,” said Borough President Diaz.

Though Borough President Diaz will not support any agreement that does not include a mandatory living wage provision, it should be noted that many aspects of the proposed deal would not have been possible without the advocacy of the borough president, community leaders and other Bronx elected officials.

“I am proud of the work that my office did to negotiate a strong community benefits agreement for this project that would offer the best possible benefits for the people of the Bronx. But the current proposals fall short of our stated goals, and I cannot, in good conscience, support this deal. I hope that the City Council will join me in opposition and vote this project down,” said Borough President Diaz.

Borough President Diaz called on the City Council to pass a living wage mandate in the new year for City-subsidized projects, and urged the State Legislature to pass a statewide IDA reform bill. Both pieces of legislation would require projects that receive taxpayer funding to pay employees a living wage.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Real Estate Lenders Association: The Morning After

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by Daniel Rose

The financial and economic trauma of 2008-9 challenges us to ask: where have we been, where are we now and where are we going?

Pundits who in 2007 didn’t have a clue about what we faced now write authoritatively of its causes; learned journals debate the future of capitalism; and public confidence in short-term and mid-term economic forecasts ranks below confidence in weather forecasts. Most distressing, there has been little informed and thoughtful discussion of what precautions we should take to diminish the prospects of such upheavals from occurring again and again; and the foxes may remain in charge of the hen house.

Many turn to economic icons for insights. John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman and Joseph Schumpeter were smarter than their disciples realize, however; Keynes was not a Socialist, Friedman was not an anti-government anarchist and Schumpeter knew that not all business destruction is necessarily creative. Significantly, each would have been horrified to see how our Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) have today become Creatively Realigned Accounting Principles (CRAP)!

Home mortgages given to borrowers with no down payment and income insufficient to cover debt service; Triple A bond ratings given to securities of dubious value; 30 to 1 leveraged loans given to shaky borrowers; derivative packages and credit default swaps so opaque that even George Soros and Warren Buffett said they didn’t understand them—all would have been decried, without reference to profound economic theories.

The economic nightmare we are going through represents a failure not of capitalism but of capitalists and their enablers. The colossal short-sightedness of our financial system’s referees and scorekeepers—the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and the S.E.C.—has permitted shrewd gamblers to manipulate the system to their benefit and everyone else’s loss; and now we are left with the wreckage.

The savings glut in emerging economies, the U.S. Federal Reserve’s prolonged easy money policy in the early 2000’s and Washington’s anti-regulatory climate set the stage for increased leverage and for asset bubbles that were bound to burst. Political pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—and the all but criminal failure of rating agencies to assess risk properly—combined to bring the international financial system to its knees, and, in 2008, to cost U.S. households some $11 trillion—18% of their wealth.

Our vibrant, dynamic free market economy has taken a savage and unnecessary pounding, and much pain will be endured before we regain healthy long-term growth.

The housing crisis seems to be easing somewhat today, although nearly three million home mortgages are in payment default and an estimated 15 million U.S. homes are worth less than their mortgages. Diminished new construction, normal population growth and a drop of 30% so far in nationwide housing prices since their peak in May 2006 will in due course bring housing markets back to equilibrium.

But a fearful storm in commercial real estate still looms, and the federal government and the financial world seem in a state of nervous wishful-thinking.

Deutsche Bank estimates at $1.7 trillion the total value of short-term commercial loans on banks’ books (some 25% of the assets of the average institution), and Deutsche Bank analysts estimate that as many as three quarters of the loans taken out in 2007 (“the most toxic vintage”) will have trouble rolling over. Others place at $1.4 trillion commercial real estate loans falling due between now and 2012 with uncertain prospects of renewal. The Federal Reserve believes that banks are grossly under-reserved for these loans, at 38 cents on the dollar.

Commercial foreclosures are being avoided. “Extend and Pretend” or “Delay and Pray” is the governmental/banking response, with new accounting rules and low interest rates fueling hopes that maybe, maybe, time will permit some alchemy to “transform baser metal into gold.” In the meantime, no one knows what this means about the health of the banking system.

Giving solvent but hard-pressed borrowers elbow room is one thing, keeping “zombies” standing is another; and a distinction should be drawn.

Today, while federal authorities deserve high praise for working energetically to prevent a financial Crash from turning into another Great Depression, unemployment is over 10% and going higher, frightened consumers are increasing their savings and curtailing unnecessary purchases, government (federal, state and municipal) is running staggering deficits that must be faced eventually, and our fragile banking system is unable or unwilling to provide the liquidity our economy needs.

The current “jobless recovery”—fueled by massive government spending on “cash for clunkers,” tax credits for home buyers, expanded unemployment benefits, etc.—is dependent on such stimuli and may peter out as those diminish. And no one knows to what extent newly-replenished inventories will find retail purchasers.

Governmental authorities are caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of short-term fear of destructive deflation and long-term disastrous inflation. We will undoubtedly muddle through, with a “best case” being continuing high unemployment, low growth and some painful dislocation for a few years, or we may face a “worst case” that our experts prefer not to consider.

The dynamism, creativity and entrepreneurial exuberance that stoke capitalism’s powerful engines for growth tend to reinforce each other to speculative excess. Economic stagnation, on the other hand, results from excessive efforts to dampen those necessary “animal spirits.” Others feel that a proper balance between savings, investment, production and consumption is the key to economic health, and that Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” needs occasional outside guidance.

In any case, the capitalistic goose that lays our golden eggs must be kept healthy and safe. “Systemic risk” was not lessened by the Federal Reserve’s mandate to use monetary policy to maintain stable prices and full employment. The S.E.C., like Claude Raines in the old film Casablanca, was “shocked, absolutely shocked” to find forbidden gambling going on under their noses. The F.D.I.C. was oblivious to conditions in the banking world, and the Treasury Department just helped everyone to “do their thing.”

The crucial question is what steps we can take to permit us to benefit from a free market economy’s vigor yet not be burned by its excesses; the outlook is not clear. The financial services industry’s powerful lobbyists, the strongest in Washington, seem poised to stymie efforts that deal with causes of crises rather than symptoms. Memories in Washington are short, and “business as usual” is likely to be the order of the day.

In the immediate future, we must revive the economy; in the intermediate future, we must return to balanced budgets and then “grow” our way out of the huge debts we are accruing; and in the longer future we must preclude such debacles from occurring repeatedly.

What should be done, and by whom?

1) “Too big to fail” is a problem that must be faced. Both explicit and implied government guarantees justify reasonable regulation, transparency, substantial capital reserves, modest leverage, and fair compensation practices (such as “claw backs”) to a greater degree than in the past; and, for those who do not want such guarantees, orderly bankruptcy proceedings must be accepted and anticipated as capitalism’s answer to incompetent management or bad luck.

2) Since the purpose of government regulation is to protect the saving and investing public and the productive business sector, and not to protect financial wheeler-dealers, we must rethink the distinction between savings institutions and gambling houses. Glass-Steagall, where were you when we needed you? Consumer protection groups, wake up!

3) The demagogues who promoted sub-prime mortgages cynically invoked the American Dream of home ownership, when they really meant the American Dream of “getting rich quick,” which usually doesn’t work. Renting rather than home-ownership is appropriate for many families, and this must be acknowledged frankly. A 60% rate of home ownership seems to be stable, a 70% rate seems unsustainable.

4) The multi-trillion dollar derivatives and credit default swaps industry must be subject to transparency requirements and reasonable regulation. Opaque markets lead to abuse of investors and to insider hanky-panky.

5) The “naked short selling” (selling shares one hasn’t borrowed) that destroyed Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros. should be prohibited. “Exchange Traded Funds” and “Dollar Carry Trades,” whose bursting bubbles can be widely destructive, require greater transparency and reasonable regulation.

6) Some form of continuing responsibility by the issuers of securitized debt (for the protection of purchasers and to dampen the fee-induced issuance of junk) must be considered.

7) Financial services industry compensation and bonuses should relate to long-term, not short-term results (and that, ideally, should be true of U.S. business generally).

8) The abject failure of the securities rating institutions must be acknowledged and dealt with. “Let the buyer beware” is not good enough for the 21st century.

9) The Prompt Corrective Action law, which called on the FDIC to rate banks with regard to the level of capitalization and which empowered the FDIC to intervene forcefully with “Critically Under Capitalized Banks,” should be reinstituted.

Finally, and most important:

10) We must decide which vehicle or vehicles are to be entrusted with the oversight of systemic risk to the entire financial system and its major components. The ancient Romans loved the phrase “Who shall guard the guardians?” The question remains today, and the answer may be “more than one.” A central bank independent of short-term political pressure is “necessary” but it might not be “sufficient.”

Can our governmental figures stop acting like politicians and start acting like statesmen? Can the financial services industry adjust its incentives to encourage constructive rather than destructive actions? Above all, can the American public, obsessed with rights rather than responsibilities and entitlements rather than obligations, accept a revised tax system that encourages increased savings, investment and production and moderately less personal consumption, with more emphasis on public goods over private, and more long-term thinking rather than short-term?

Furthermore, can we reduce oil consumption, get more value from health care spending, and end electoral gerrymandering so as to strengthen “the vital center” and to reduce the power of ideologues from the left or right? Finally, can we face frankly our unfunded obligations of Social Security and Medicare which now are into the many trillions of dollars?

The future of America depends on our answers.

(Talks by Daniel Rose may be found on