“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10805 Feb 18, 2013
True, the largest banks are now bigger than they were before the crises thanks to emergency mergers engineered by the Bush administration. But as Obama’s former economic adviser Austan Goolsbee told journalist Michael Hirsh,“The most dangerous failures—Bear Stearns, Lehman—were not even close to the biggest. You could have broken the largest financial institutions into, literally, five pieces and each of them would still have been bigger than Bear Stearns. The main danger to the economy was interconnection, not raw size.” With the capital requirements of the Collins amendment, the Volcker Rule, and the forcing of derivatives into clearinghouses, Dodd-Frank goes a long way toward dealing with the “interconnection” problem. The law’s “resolution authority” also gives regulators the ability to spot overly risky behavior by big banks early and to shut them down if they get into trouble. And the behemoths now have higher capital requirements than do smaller banks, another hedge against risk and an incentive for business to move from the former to the latter.

True, the bank executives on whose watch the crisis happened got lavish bonuses on their way out the door, and the bonuses continued to flow even as the sector was getting bailed out by Uncle Sam—a dispiriting and infuriating phenomenon to many Americans, liberal and conservative. Yet it’s also true that bank shareholders were forced to take a “haircut,” since the new private investment that flowed into banks thanks to Geithner’s recapitalization plan greatly diluted the value of their stock. That has provided at least some market discipline to counteract the “moral hazard” dilemma of government bailouts sending the signal that there is no penalty for recklessness. More importantly, by reducing banks’ ability to leverage capital and make risky trades with other people’s money, Dodd-Frank threatens the honeypot of the huge profits that have been the source of all that outsized compensation. And as a fallback, the law gives government the power to rewrite bank executive compensation packages if those packages are seen as incentivizing overly risky behavior—a power regulators have already begun to exercise. Finally, after years of pussyfooting around, the administration, prodded by aggressive state attorneys general, has finally launched a major push to investigate and prosecute possible criminal misconduct in the financial collapse.

How, then, will historians judge Obama’s handling of the financial crisis? That’s hard to say definitively because so much depends on follow through—specifically, on whether Obama has a chance to follow through by winning a second term.(If he isn’t reelected, the Republicans have vowed to gut Dodd-Frank.) Will the rules that regulators are now writing to implement Dodd-Frank be tough and smart enough? Will they be enforced? Will federal prosecutors bring some bankers to justice? Can the toxic assets still on banks’ books be disposed of without causing another banking collapse?

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10806 Feb 18, 2013
We can’t yet know the answers to these questions, but there are strong signs that Wall Street knows the jig is up. In anticipation of Dodd-Frank’s provisions going into effect, many of the biggest banks have already shut down their proprietary trading operations. Banks’ profits, which soared during the initial stages of the bailout, have plummeted in recent months even as other corporate sectors have been doing quite well. Compensation packages are down, too. If, five, ten, or twenty years from now, risky behavior by financial institutions once again leads to a crisis, Obama will be judged harshly for having failed to push for stiffer reforms at the moment when Wall Street’s political power was weakest. But if we get through the next decade or two without another financial meltdown, and Wall Street’s unhealthy influence over the economy abates, then Obama will be credited with not only having gotten us out of the financial crisis in the short run but also having crafted an effective new set of rules to reduce the chances of it happening again.

A similar “we shall see” factor looms over what is arguably Obama’s crowning achievement: the Affordable Care Act. In passing a bill that provides near-universal health care to the American people, Obama succeeded where five previous presidents over the course of a century had failed. He did so against the advice of some of his closest aides and the fervent, united opposition of Republicans. The law manages not only to extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans but also to cut the deficit and put in place dozens of new policies and programs aimed at reducing health care costs, the single greatest driver of America’s long-term fiscal problems.

Yet the measure’s major effects are yet to be felt, and its ultimate fate is highly uncertain. Most of the law’s benefits, including subsidies for the uninsured, do not kick in until 2014. Little wonder, then, that voters have a hard time getting excited about the ACA. And the bill’s various experimental policy measures to control health care costs are just that— experiments that might or might not work. Moreover, the law might not survive a legal challenge that the Supreme Court is currently considering, and will almost certainly be killed or gutted if the Republicans are victorious in November.

You can understand, then, why Obama was afraid to make more than a glancing mention of the ACA in the State of the Union. But the lukewarm-to-hostile attitudes people have about the law now are likely to fade if he manages to get reelected. With four more years to oversee the implementation of the law and protect it against whatever the courts and congressional Republicans hurl at it, Obama can ensure that it will be politically and programmatically secure. The benefits will have started flowing, and businesses and the medical industry will have begun to adapt to it. Over time it will likely become as much a permanent fixture of American life as Social Security.

Even those achievements that Obama is willing to brag about—ones that have created benefits that are already apparent—may ultimately be seen as grander in scope than we now appreciate, depending on how the future plays out. Take, for instance, his policies toward the auto industry. When he came into office, Detroit was in free fall. Without additional government help (the Bush administration had provided $13.4 billion in bridge loans), Chrysler and possibly GM could have been liquidated, putting at risk the entire network of domestic auto suppliers on which Ford and other carmakers depend. The Obama administration injected an additional $62 billion into GM and Chrysler in return for equity stakes and agreements for massive restructuring— eliminating brands, closing dealerships, renegotiating pay and benefit agreements, and, in Chrysler’s case, facilitating a merger with Fiat.

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10807 Feb 18, 2013
The federal takeover was deeply unpopular with the public and condemned by conservatives as socialism. But it is hard to argue with the results. Since bottoming out in 2009, the auto industry has added upward of 100,000 jobs. The Big Three are all profitable again, and last year they each gained market share, the first time that’s happened in two decades. Most of the $80 billion in bailout funds have been paid back; Washington is likely to lose only about $16 billion, less if the price of its GM stock rises. Even on its face, the policy has been one of the most successful short-term government economic interventions in decades.

But Obama’s restructuring of Detroit goes even deeper. A big part of the reason U.S. automakers were in such bad shape on the eve of the recession was a spike in gas prices that had left them with lots full of SUVs and light trucks they couldn’t sell. Unlike their foreign-owned competitors, who could shift from, say, Tundras to Corollas and weather the storm, Detroit simply didn’t know how to make money producing small cars, though they were belatedly trying to learn. So, as a condition of the bailout, Obama’s White House secured commitments from GM and Chrysler to put even more emphasis on building more fuel-efficient cars in the United States. Meanwhile, with money from the stimulus, the administration invested in companies that manufacture advanced batteries of the kind needed to make electric cars. And, while the automakers were feeling beholden, the administration convinced them to agree to a doubling of auto fuel efficiency requirements over the next thirteen years.

The overall strategy (which the administration doesn’t like to talk about because it sounds too much like industrial policy) is to create the conditions whereby American car manufacturers can profitably build and sell small, fuel-efficient cars in the United States. The hope is that this will obviate the need for additional bailouts if and when gas prices rise again, and position Detroit to export the kinds of cars most of the world wants. Will the strategy work? We shall see.

Or consider higher education. Obama has pushed through two major reforms in this area. First, working with Democrats in Congress, he ended the wasteful, decades-old practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. Starting in the summer of 2010, all students began getting their loans directly from the federal government. The move saves the Treasury $67 billion over ten years,$36 billion of which will go to expanding Pell Grants, the most significant form of aid to lower- and lower-middle-income students. Second, the administration has issued so-called “gainful employment” rules for career-focused colleges, especially for-profits. Those schools whose students don’t earn enough to pay off their loans—because they never graduate, or don’t learn marketable skills—will be cut off from the federal student loan program, effectively putting them out of business.

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10808 Feb 18, 2013
While these are big moves, they might also turn out to be first steps. As the think tank Education Sector has written, by kicking the banks out of the student loan program, Obama has effectively eliminated the biggest lobbying force standing in the way of an über-reform of student aid: turning the confusing plethora of loan programs into one simple federal loan payable as a percentage of a person’s income over a working lifetime. Such a single “income-contingent” loan would make it possible for virtually every American to afford a post-secondary education without risk of going bankrupt. And with the gainful employment rules, the federal government will have the ability to track what kind of income students from different colleges earn after they graduate. If such data were made available for every college, parents and students would have vital information they don’t have now on the comparative value of their education choices, which in turn might provide market pressure on schools to keep tuition down and quality up. Obama has signaled that he’d very much like the authority to provide such information. Whether he can get it is an open question.

If it’s too early to know what history will think of Barack Obama, it is possible to ask today’s historians what they think. Two polls have been conducted since Obama took office that ask experts to rate America’s presidents based on measures of character, leadership, and accomplishments. A 2010 Siena Research Institute survey of 238 presidential scholars ranked Obama the fifteenth-best president overall. Last year, the United States Presidency Centre at the University of London surveyed forty-seven UK specialists on American history and politics. That survey placed Obama at number eight, just below Harry Truman.

I had conversations recently with six presidential scholars. Three of them—Robert Dallek, Matthew Dallek, and Alan Lichtman—said that, based on what Obama has gotten done in his first term, he has a good shot at ranking in or just below the top ten presidents of history, but with the proviso that he almost certainly needs to get reelected to secure that position. The other three—Alan Brinkley, David Greenberg, and Allen Guelzo—took a more jaundiced view. While conceding that Obama has put a lot of points on the board in terms of legislation, they felt that the highly compromised nature of that legislation, among other things, reflects qualities of leadership—a lack of experience, acumen, and forcefulness—that will keep him from ranking with the great presidents, and will more likely place him somewhere in the middle of the pack, presuming he even gets reelected.

These last three scholars’ views mesh with the broader feeling among Obama’s critics, especially on the liberal side, that Obama is fatally overcautious. What’s notable about such critiques is that they essentially rest on arguments that are counterfactual—that a savvier, more experienced, more energetic president could have gotten more done. Certainly that’s plausible, if unprovable. But it is equally plausible, as Ezra Klein has argued, that what has constrained Obama is not a lack of boldness but a lack of political space. With Republicans unified in opposition and willing to abuse the filibuster such that to pass any legislation has required sixty Senate votes that Obama has seldom had, it is unrealistic to think he or anyone could have done a whole lot better.

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10809 Feb 18, 2013
Even if his caution has led to achievements that are less sweeping than they might have been, that same character trait might also explain why none of Obama’s decisions has, so far, led to a calamitous outcome. This is no small feat, especially in a time of multiple world-historical emergencies. Indeed, some of our greatest presidents did not manage to avoid such self-inflicted disasters. The sainted George Washington, in an effort to retire Revolutionary War debt, chose to tax whiskey, and sparked a bloody insurgency, the Whiskey Rebellion. Thomas Jefferson, hoping to punish European powers for harassing American merchant vessels, put a stop to all marine trade in and out of American ports, and succeeded only in causing a national recession. FDR, too, precipitated a recession when he slashed budgets in 1936; he also interned the Japanese and tried to pack the courts. Ronald Reagan traded arms for hostages. Obama may well make similar kinds of grave mistakes in the future, but so far, as best we can tell, he has not made any.

The view that Barack Obama is overly cautious must also take into account the many times in his presidency when he took extraordinary risks. He did so when he turned down Detroit’s first bailout request, demanding more concessions, including government ownership and the resignation of GM’s CEO, before saying yes. He did so when, after passing the stimulus, he made health care reform his number one legislative priority, against the advice of some of his top political advisers; and when, after Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race, he chose to jam the health care bill through reconciliation despite cries of outrage from the GOP. And he did so, most famously, when he chose to send special forces into Pakistan to go after Osama bin Laden, without certainty that the terrorist leader was even there, with his senior national security advisers waffling, and with the clear understanding that if the mission went wrong, as a similar one did under Jimmy Carter, it could ruin his presidency.

It should be clear by now that I don’t believe that Obama’s record has been crippled by an excess of caution. Indeed, his last-minute decision to order extra helicopters into the bin Laden raid illustrates that daring and caution are compatible virtues, and he has a winning mix of both. It should also be clear that, on the strength of his record so far, I think he’s likely to be considered a great or near- great president.

That’s not to say that his instincts and decisions have always been right. I cannot, for instance, find a good reason why he should not have at least threatened to use Fourteenth Amendment powers to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling to break the hostage standoff with the GOP last year. Time and again, he has allowed himself to be played too long by Republicans pretending to be interested in bipartisanship. He could have used more experience going into the job, and his temperament does not make him a perfect fit for it. His disdain for the “political games of Washington” is understandable, sane, and appealing to voters, and part of why he is good at keeping his focus on the long term. But unless you can change the rules—which Obama has not been able to do— the game must be played. And games tend to be mastered by those who love them; think LBJ and Clinton.

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10810 Feb 18, 2013
One of the most important tasks a president must master—and Obama hasn’t—is speaking up for his own record. This has been especially challenging for him because of the still-widespread economic suffering across the country and the too-soon-to-tell quality of his biggest accomplishments. And again, his even temperament hasn’t helped. He has seemed to want his achievements to speak for themselves. Who wouldn’t? But the presidency doesn’t work that way. A president has to remind the public every day of what he’s already done, why he’s done it, and how those achievements fit into a broader plan that will help them in the future.

With his State of the Union and some subsequent speeches, he has only begun this task. And while it’s very late in the day, the election is still eight months away. The irony is that, while Barack Obama has achieved a tremendous amount in his first term, the only way to secure that record of achievement in the eyes of history is to win a second. And to do that, he first has to convince the American voters that he in fact has a record of achievement.
Just Saying

Mineola, NY

#10811 Feb 18, 2013
The Anti-Troll wrote:
One of the most important tasks a president must master—and Obama hasn’t—is speaking up for his own record. This has been especially challenging for him because of the still-widespread economic suffering across the country and the too-soon-to-tell quality of his biggest accomplishments. And again, his even temperament hasn’t helped. He has seemed to want his achievements to speak for themselves. Who wouldn’t? But the presidency doesn’t work that way. A president has to remind the public every day of what he’s already done, why he’s done it, and how those achievements fit into a broader plan that will help them in the future.
With his State of the Union and some subsequent speeches, he has only begun this task. And while it’s very late in the day, the election is still eight months away. The irony is that, while Barack Obama has achieved a tremendous amount in his first term, the only way to secure that record of achievement in the eyes of history is to win a second. And to do that, he first has to convince the American voters that he in fact has a record of achievement.
Where did you get this article, because it obviously wasn't written by you?

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10812 Feb 18, 2013
Just Saying wrote:
<quoted text>Where did you get this article, because it obviously wasn't written by you?
Too much truth for you to handle?
Teddy R

Houston, TX

#10813 Feb 18, 2013
Just Saying wrote:
<quoted text>Where did you get this article, because it obviously wasn't written by you?
He plagiarized it (i.e., STOLE it) without attribution from Paul Glastris, whose article "The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama" appeared in the March/April edition of The Washington Monthly.

Although since I'm sure The Washington Monthly lies well above the The Angry-Troll's reading level, it's more likely he just cut-n-pasted it from some blog like Democratic Underground.

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10814 Feb 18, 2013
Teddy R wrote:
<quoted text>
He plagiarized it (i.e., STOLE it) without attribution from Paul Glastris, whose article "The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama" appeared in the March/April edition of The Washington Monthly.
Although since I'm sure The Washington Monthly lies well above the The Angry-Troll's reading level, it's more likely he just cut-n-pasted it from some blog like Democratic Underground.
Jump for me Teddy Boy! Thru the hoop!
Good boy! Goooooooood Boy!
Now dance for me! Dance for my amusement!
I push the buttons & you dance for me!

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10815 Feb 18, 2013
Watch Teddy Ruxpin dance on cue!
Push his buttons and he'll dance for you!
Watch me play with my newfound toy!
He'll jump thru the hoop like a good little boy!

“Same F*ck”

Since: Oct 07

Different You's

#10816 Feb 18, 2013
Teddy R wrote:
<quoted text>
He plagiarized it (i.e., STOLE it) without attribution from Paul Glastris, whose article "The Incomplete Greatness of Barack Obama" appeared in the March/April edition of The Washington Monthly.
Although since I'm sure The Washington Monthly lies well above the The Angry-Troll's reading level, it's more likely he just cut-n-pasted it from some blog like Democratic Underground.
Hey Teddy, I've been reading many posts and you are without question, one of the more astute posters on Topix. You are a true American patriot and your posts about the lowlife disgrace living in the White House are all dead on accurate. So you live in SF? You ever listen to Michael Savage? He is a wonderful human being. This Anti Troll is a deadbeat who goes from forum to forum praising Obama. The Anti Troll loves wealth redistribution and all his big govt policies. Be careful around this guy. He is also a big time stalker. I have invited him to my residence in Ft Lauderdale anytime he wishes and after I finish pounding on this deadbeats skull, I will force him to listen to Savage, Limbaugh and finally Hannitty in prime time as part of his re education classes

“Same F*ck”

Since: Oct 07

Different You's

#10817 Feb 18, 2013
It has reached such a point in this country that its not whether Obama is a good or bad president. Anyone who knows whats going on, knows hes a horrible president. The question is how horrible. I say hes the worst ever. Of course Carter was bad. FDR was another liberal lowlife who stole from the rich people. He has to be up there. But overall, Obama is the worst all time. And when he got re elected, most of the civilized world, especially Europe laughed at us. Europe has been showing us the blueprint for bankruptcy and even with that, the deadbeats and lowlifes still voted him back in

“The No Troll Zone”

Since: Jan 13

Where it's at.

#10818 Feb 18, 2013
Unbiased Chargers Fan wrote:
<quoted text>Hey Teddy, I've been reading many posts and you are without question, one of the more astute posters on Topix. You are a true American patriot and your posts about the lowlife disgrace living in the White House are all dead on accurate. So you live in SF? You ever listen to Michael Savage? He is a wonderful human being. This Anti Troll is a deadbeat who goes from forum to forum praising Obama. The Anti Troll loves wealth redistribution and all his big govt policies. Be careful around this guy. He is also a big time stalker. I have invited him to my residence in Ft Lauderdale anytime he wishes and after I finish pounding on this deadbeats skull, I will force him to listen to Savage, Limbaugh and finally Hannitty in prime time as part of his re education classes
I'm warning you Teddy. Keep away from this guy. He's a criminal & a stalker. He shared info about a 16 year old girl with a guy who had already stated he wanted to stalk & rape her. The guy can't be trusted!

“Same F*ck”

Since: Oct 07

Different You's

#10819 Feb 18, 2013
The Anti-Troll wrote:
<quoted text>
I'm warning you Teddy. Keep away from this guy. He's a criminal & a stalker. He shared info about a 16 year old girl with a guy who had already stated he wanted to stalk & rape her. The guy can't be trusted!
Wow, how did this come up. Go back on the Yankee forum and tell them again what a great leader he is
bigfoot

De Forest, WI

#10820 Feb 18, 2013
I will hail any president who reigns during the time of this:

“Same F*ck”

Since: Oct 07

Different You's

#10821 Feb 18, 2013
Oh no, Teddy has been warned. Think Teddy will lose any sleep tonight over this?

“Same F*ck”

Since: Oct 07

Different You's

#10822 Feb 18, 2013
My reputation is impeccable and anyone can ask Momma or Pete Case to back up my solid reputation
The Loon He Always Tight

Lindenhurst, NY

#10823 Feb 18, 2013
Unbiased Chargers Fan wrote:
My reputation is impeccable and anyone can ask Momma or Pete Case to back up my solid reputation
Is "Chargers" a gay bar?
Maude

Floral Park, NY

#10824 Feb 18, 2013
The Anti-Troll wrote:
<quoted text>
DANCE FOR ME TEDDY BOY! DANCE!
That's right, I keep pushing the buttons, you keep on dancing.
I trained you well!
Tomorrow, we try flaming hoops.
You my dimwitted friend are A Educated Fool.

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