Friday, December 11, 2009

The LuLac Edition #1034, Dec.11th, 2009



Paul Kanjorski was appalled that big banks became too big to fail. He was angry about the fact that Wall Street execs who screwed up the economy got bonuses. The Congressman was one of many Democratic House members that has changed the way big business does business.
Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (D-PA), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, voted for H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, which passed in the House by a vote of 223-202. As a result of Chairman Kanjorski’s leadership on this landmark legislation to work to prevent future financial crises and better protect every American, it includes four of Chairman Kanjorski’s reform bills, which comprise about half of the larger legislation. It also includes the Kanjorski amendment which would empower federal regulators to rein in and dismantle financial firms that are so large, inter-connected, or risky that their collapse would put at risk the entire American economic system, even if those firms currently appear to be well-capitalized and healthy. Therefore, American taxpayers should no longer be on the hook for bailouts, as financial companies would not be able to become “too big to fail.”
“Today marks a momentous step as we work to reform Wall Street and better protect the American people from potential future financial crises,” said Chairman Kanjorski. “Last year, our economy faced its most dire circumstances since the Great Depression. We took extraordinary, but necessary action to pull the economy back from the brink, and we are now beginning to see signs of recovery. Today, the House passed legislation, with my strong support, that provides the most sweeping financial regulatory reforms in the past 75 years and holds banks accountable for their actions. While no bill is perfect, this legislation takes strong steps to help prevent the near collapse that we faced last year. It also will help us take preventative action to protect every American and our economy so that there will no longer be companies that are “too big to fail” or anymore taxpayer funded bailouts.”
Chairman Kanjorski added, “A healthy financial system is necessary for a healthy economy, and I am confident that once enacted into law, this legislation will serve as a foundation for decades of economic growth. However, more needs to be done immediately to stimulate the creation of jobs, and I look forward to continuing to work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to address the needs of the American people as we struggle through these difficult economic times.”
here for more information on the Kanjorski amendment to address financial institutions deemed “too big to fail,” as well as Chairman Kanjorski’s four bills which, for the first time, would better protect investors, enhance credit agency regulation, force the registration of the advisers to hedge funds and private equity pools, and create a federal insurance office. They are all included in the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
The text of Chairman Kanjorski’s statement on reasons to support the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act follows:
December 9, 2009
Madam Speaker, over the next few days this body will have the opportunity to consider sweeping, meaningful reforms to protect American investors, safeguard consumers on Main Street, and fundamentally change the way Wall Street and large financial institutions operate. For roughly two years, we have endured a severe crisis that exposed vulnerabilities in our system for overseeing the financial sector and demonstrated the perils of deregulation.
During this calamity, Americans have unfortunately lost trillions of dollars in personal wealth and retirement savings, millions of families have lost their homes, and far too many workers have lost their jobs. Last year, in order to save the financial system itself, we had to act courageously and pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program, despite considerable criticism. This law has worked to stabilize our system, but public faith in our financial markets has also nearly vanished. We therefore must now take bold steps to restore trust in the financial services industry by significantly modifying its regulation. H.R. 4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, will do just that.
While this broad, comprehensive legislation encompasses substantial reforms in many areas -- from the regulation of complex financial derivatives to the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency -- I want to focus my comments on the proposals that I worked to develop and incorporate into this package. These reforms include investor protection improvements, the registration of hedge fund advisers, changes to credit rating agency oversight, and the creation of a Federal insurance office. I also want to discuss how this legislation will rein in “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions.
The failure to detect the massive $65 billion Madoff Ponzi scheme, the problematic securities lending program of American International Group, the freezing up of the auction-rate securities market, and the “breaking of the buck” by Reserve Primary Fund each demonstrated the need for comprehensive investor protection reform. In response, the Investor Protection Act of 2009 -- a key part of H.R. 4173 -- contains more than six dozen provisions aimed at strengthening the oversight of U.S. securities markets and closing regulatory loopholes.
For the first time, every professional who offers investment advice about a securities product will have a fiduciary duty to their customer. For the first time, we will create a bounty program to encourage tipsters to come forward with information about securities fraud. For the first time, we will regulate municipal financial advisers. Moreover, by doubling the budget of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and by requiring a comprehensive study to fundamentally reform the way the agency operates, this bill lays the foundation for us to put in place a superior securities regulatory system going forward.
We also need to regulate everyone who plays in our capital markets. By mandating the registration of hedge fund advisers and others who currently operate in the shadows of our markets and subjecting them to record keeping and disclosure requirements, for the first time regulators will have the information needed to better understand exactly how these entities operate and whether their actions pose a threat to the financial system as a whole.
Without question, the actions of Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch exacerbated this financial crisis. In response, H.R. 4173 takes strong steps to reduce conflicts of interest, stem market reliance on credit rating agencies, and impose accountability on rating agencies by increasing liability. As gatekeepers to our markets, credit rating agencies must be held to higher standards. We need to incentivize them to do their jobs correctly and effectively, and there must be repercussions if they fall short.
Insurance also plays a vital role in the smooth and efficient functioning of our economy, but the credit crisis highlighted the lack of expertise within the Federal government on the industry, especially during the collapse of American International Group and last year’s turmoil in the bond insurance industry. I have long championed the need to establish a place within the Federal government to collect information and build expertise on this sizable industry. The Federal government needs a fundamental knowledge base on these matters, and for the first time we will have such a repository because of this bill.
Finally, I am pleased that H.R. 4173 includes my amendment addressing companies that have become too big to fail. This bill will empower Federal regulators to rein in and dismantle financial firms that are so large, inter-connected, or risky that their collapse would put at risk the entire American economic system, even if those firms currently appear to be well-capitalized and healthy. By ensuring that financial companies cannot become so big that their failure would pose a threat to economic stability, we will protect American taxpayers from future bailouts. By outlining clear and objective standards for regulators to examine financial companies, we will also reduce the level of risk their activities pose to our financial stability and our economy.
In sum, I want to thank the Members of the Financial Services Committee for their hard work and their support of my efforts to better protect investors, advance credit rating agency accountability, register hedge fund advisers, establish a knowledge base on insurance, and curb too-big-to-fail companies. I especially want to congratulate the Chairman of our Committee, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), for his tireless efforts in pulling this comprehensive package together during the last year. I urge all of my colleagues to support this landmark bill.


U.S. Senator Arlen Specter who is depending on the unbridled support of the Obama administration in a tough re-election year bid has done what Arlen Specter usually does. He's off the pro war reservation when t comes to Afghanistan and explained why.
I'M OPPOSED to sending 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan because I don't believe they are indispensable in our fight against al Qaeda. If they were, I'd support such a surge because we have to do whatever it takes to defeat al Qaeda, which seeks to annihilate us. But if al Qaeda can organize and operate out of Yemen, Somalia or elsewhere, then why fight in Afghanistan, which has made a history of resisting would-be conquerors - from Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BC, to Great Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries, to the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s? In order to be successful in Afghanistan, it's necessary to have a reliable ally in the Afghan government. The evidence demonstrates that President Hamid Karzai does not have the requisite reliability. THE LEGITIMACY of his administration is suspect because of vote fraud. There is widespread corruption at the highest levels of his government. His government has tolerated, if not encouraged, drug-trafficking. President Obama has said, "President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction." In my judgment, any such "message" amounts to a dubious and belated pledge of reform and deserves to be treated with the greatest skepticism. For too long, the United States has borne the overwhelming weight of providing troops with only modest NATO contributions. We currently provide 68,000 troops, Britain 9,500 and the other countries just over 36,000. NATO has pledged another 7,000 troops, an inadequate response when you consider the combined populations of NATO countries - excluding the United States - and the threat they face from al Qaeda. In the context of the Vietnam and Iraq wars, it is understandable that the American people are very skeptical about fighting in Afghanistan. Had we known that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, we would not have gone into Iraq. Historians have replayed the tragic mistakes in Vietnam. When you add the 851killed and 4,605 wounded in Afghanistan to the 4,369 killed and 31,575 wounded in Iraq, it is understandable that the American people do not want to continue the overwhelming burden of fighting in Afghanistan with so little assistance from our allies and so little prospects for success. The cost of the Afghanistan war imposes an additional burden. It costs $1 million a year for each soldier, or $30 billion a year to support 30,000 additional troops. The cost for the total force in Afghanistan of approximately 100,000 soldiers would be more than $100 billion a year. Pursuing a successful war in Afghanistan would require considerable additional support from Pakistan. While Pakistan has been more helpful in recent weeks, their long-term commitment remains uncertain. For years, I've urged that the United States should take the lead in brokering a rapprochement with India that would allow Pakistan to redeploy forces from the Indian border to Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds in the mountainous regions of the north. If we could cool that tension with India, they could help us fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. My opposition to the troop surge in no way diminishes my concern over the challenge we face in al Qaeda and the need to confront it wherever it emerges. But I question whether Afghanistan is the primary front or even the only battlefield when we may face emerging challenges in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan itself. That is where we have the best chance to succeed. We should concentrate on fighting al Qaeda without limitation on time or resources, but we should not engage in the laborious and problematic task of nation-building, or civil affairs, or the protection of other societies in place of their own security systems.
You gotta love Specter. George Bush and Rick Santorum campaigned heavily for him in the 2004 Senate primary. Arlen dragged the President around the state doing more hugging than a care bear convention. The day after he wins, he says, "I'm my own guy" and proceeded to torque off the Bush people. He seems to be doing the same with the Obama people too.


State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski had his health care forum at LCCC on Thursday night. I was out of town and could not make it. Here's a report from the Citizen's Voice on what transpired.
NANTICOKE - The Northeast Pennsylvania Health care Reform Task Force, led by state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, gave a presentation Thursday at Luzerne County Community College to a group of approximately 30 people concerned about the current state of health-care costs and what the future holds if trends don't change.
The task force's mission, according to Pashinski, is to engage a "commission of qualified experts" in an "open and frank discussion about health care."
After three years of research, "we believe we have potential solutions," Pashinski told the crowd.
Illustrating the increase in health-care costs, Pashinski presented data showing the rising cost of a decent family health-care plan.
According to Pashinski, the same plan that would have cost $4,000 to $5,000 in 1992 now costs between $17,000 and $22,000 today.
"And the problem is bigger than the insurance companies," he added.
It was this data that led Pashinski to form the task force and to construct its 10 main principles, which include frank and honest discussions and a priority on patients.
A panel of seven experts from hospital representatives to insurance company officials assisted Pashinski in the presentation, each touching on a problem and possible solution in their field of expertise.
Sabatini Monatesti, president of ES Enterprises Inc., stressed the importance of a national system of electronic medical records.
"A health information exchange is needed to eliminate the many errors and omissions (in the health-care industry)," Monatesti said. "About 100,000 lives are lost each year to errors and omissions ... including work performed on the wrong patient, the wrong dose, wrong medicine, wrong frequency, wrong test, wasted tests, wrong procedure and the wrong diagnosis."
David Fallk, a Scranton trial attorney, spoke briefly about the misconception that tort reform is the solution to the rising costs of health care.
"Forty-six states have enacted some form of tort reform," Fallk said. "Not one of those states has reported a decrease in health-care errors or a reduction in health-care costs. In 2009, Pennsylvania had 1602 medical malpractice lawsuits compared to its peak in 2002 with over 2600 lawsuits. The fact is, serious medical errors are on the rise while malpractice lawsuits are on the decline. It's obvious what the real problem is."
Conrad Schintz, vice president of Geisinger Health Systems, said another key to lowering costs is eliminating readmissions. According to Schintz, better and more personalized aftercare could reduce the possibility of a post operative patient being readmitted for complications that may have been avoided if a patient was tracked more closely upon release.
This has been a major issue for Pashinski even before he took office and given Blue Cross's rate increase of 10% to non group individuals, the topic is timely. An individual will now have to pay about $577.75 or $52.00 a month more. Pashinski has great interest in the issue as illustrated by this video from a few months ago.


Businessman and good friend Eric Lee appeared as a caller on the Corbett Show today and goty off a line that was pretty dead on regarding reform in Luzerne County. He said, "Sometimes you have to kill the chickens to scare off the monkeys!" We're gonna need a lot of chicken killin' to ward off these apes!!!


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway..... Che Guevara addresses the U.N. General Assembly............... Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (379 US 241 1964): The U.S. Supreme Court rules that, in accordance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, establishments providing public accommodations must refrain from racial discrimination……….in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Nurse’s Association raises the pay of Private Duty Nurses to $18.00 a day. Naturally a few people in Luzerne and Lackawanna County opposed the increase but it was pointed out that private duty nurses were solo practicioners and had to pay for their own health care and social security…..the Wilkes Barre Chamber of Commerce developed a brochure to reach Convention and Meeting Planners. The brochure featured the Market Street Bridge as a backdrop as well as information on the Swetland Homestead, a listing of hotels, eating places, bars and two maps. The Committee Chair Louis Schaffer presented the information at a year end press conference..... and 45 years ago the number 1 song in LuLac land and America was "Ringo" by TV star Lorne Greene.


At 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Scranton still have a public access tv station? I seem to have missed the move if there has been one. I guess it took me this long to miss it!


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