On television, in interviews and in meetings with investors, executives of the biggest U.S. banks — notably JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon — make the case that size is a competitive advantage. It helps them lower costs and vie for customers on an international scale. Limiting it, they warn, would impair profitability and weaken the country’s position in global finance.
So what if we told you that, by our calculations, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?
Granted, it’s a hard concept to swallow. It’s also crucial to understanding why the big banks present such a threat to the global economy.
Let’s start with a bit of background. Banks have a powerful incentive to get big and unwieldy. The larger they are, the more disastrous their failure would be and the more certain they can be of a government bailout in an emergency. The result is an implicit subsidy: The banks that are potentially the most dangerous can borrow at lower rates, because creditors perceive them as too big to fail.
Lately, economists have tried to pin down exactly how much the subsidy lowers big banks’ borrowing costs. In one relatively thorough effort, two researchers — Kenichi Ueda of the International Monetary Fund and Beatrice Weder di Mauro of the University of Mainz — put the number at about 0.8 percentage point. The discount applies to all their liabilities, including bonds and customer deposits.
Small as it might sound, 0.8 percentage point makes a big difference. Multiplied by the total liabilities of the 10 largest U.S. banks by assets, it amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion a year. To put the figure in perspective, it’s tantamount to the government giving the banks about 3 cents of every tax dollar collected.
The top five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. – – account for $64 billion of the total subsidy, an amount roughly equal to their typical annual profits (see tables for data on individual banks). In other words, the banks occupying the commanding heights of the U.S. financial industry — with almost $9 trillion in assets, more than half the size of the U.S. economy — would just about break even in the absence of corporate welfare. In large part, the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.
Neither bank executives nor shareholders have much incentive to change the situation. On the contrary, the financial industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle on campaign donations and lobbying, much of which is aimed at maintaining the subsidy. The result is a bloated financial sector and recurring credit gluts. Left unchecked, the superbanks could ultimately require bailouts that exceed the government’s resources. Picture a meltdown in which the Treasury is helpless to step in as it did in 2008 and 2009.
Regulators can change the game by paring down the subsidy. One option is to make banks fund their activities with more equity from shareholders, a measure that would make them less likely to need bailouts (we recommend $1 of equity for each $5 of assets, far more than the 1-to-33 ratio that new global rules require). Another idea is to shock creditors out of complacency by making some of them take losses when banks run into trouble. A third is to prevent banks from using the subsidy to finance speculative trading, the aim of the Volcker rule in the U.S. and financial ring-fencing in the U.K.
Once shareholders fully recognized how poorly the biggest banks perform without government support, they would be motivated to demand better. This could entail anything from cutting pay packages to breaking down financial juggernauts into more manageable units. The market discipline might not please executives, but it would certainly be an improvement over paying banks to put us in danger.
Read more: Bloomberg
This is truly humiliating then… Hey, Lets pay for our own servitude!
In Barack Obama’s 23 executive orders last week, one that is extremely significant is the study he ordered the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to begin regarding the causes of gun violence and how to reduce it. Gun violence is not a disease. It is not a public health issue, but with his Presidential memorandum, Obama has made it that, which was nothing more than a sneaky assault on congressional authority so that he can then take taxpayer money to fund his gun control propaganda.
“While year after year, those who oppose even modest gun-safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it,” said Mr. Obama.
The memo the President issued gives authority to the CDC to “sponsor” other entities for the study. The memo reads:
The Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary), through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientific agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, shall conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it. The Secretary shall begin by identifying the most pressing research questions with the greatest potential public health impact, and by assessing existing public health interventions being implemented across the Nation to prevent gun violence.
This is nothing more than a way to put money in the pockets of anti-gun groups that will promote the Obama agenda. It has nothing to do with health, which is cited several times in the memo.
One thing must be noted and that is that Barack Obama is not the first to use this tactic. The Washington Times reports,
Congress clamped down on the spending after President Clinton used the CDC and National Institutes of Health to create material advancing his theme of treating gun ownership as a public health issue, rather than a constitutional right. Millions in taxpayer funds were blown on junk science, such as $2.6 million used to determine if teenagers who are shot are more likely to have been drinking and carrying a gun. An additional $2 million went to figure out whether moving bars and liquor stores would prevent gun violence in communities.
By calling gun violence a “public health crisis” on Wednesday, Mr. Obama echoed Mr. Clinton’s model. It’s a move that could cost lives, as shifting funding away from fighting disease creates severely misplaced priorities. In 2010, 780,213 Americans died from cardiovascular disease and 574,743 from cancer, compared with 11,078 firearm homicides.
Under the Bush administration, the CDC already conducted a two-year independent study of the laws, including bans on specified firearms or ammunition; gun registration; concealed-weapon carry; and zero-tolerance for firearms in schools. The scientists concluded in 2003 that there was “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”
So Obama follows the Clinton playbook by doing an end run around Congress and using taxpayer money of those who believe in the United States Constitution and the Second Amendment to push anti-Second Amendment propaganda. This is exactly the kind of thing that Senator Rand Paul(R-KY) expressed that needs to be dealt with by Congress.
Hillary Clinton (Kissinger): Population Control Will Now Become The Centerpiece Of U.S. Foreign Policy
During remarks that she made for the 15th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of a new program that according to Clinton will now become the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. This new program is known as the Global Health Initiative, and it is being incredibly well-funded at a time when the U.S. government is drowning in debt. According to Clinton, 63 billion dollars will be spent by the U.S. to prevent pregnancies and to improve “family planning” services around the globe over the next six years. In other words, the new centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy is all about eugenics and population control.
The following is an excerpt from Clinton’s remarks….
In addition to new funding, we’ve launched a new program that will be the centerpiece of our foreign policy, the Global Health Initiative, which commits us to spending $63 billion over six years to improve global health by investing in efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality, prevent millions of unintended pregnancies, and avert millions of new HIV infections, among other goals. This initiative will employ a new approach to fighting disease and promoting health.
You see, whenever the global elite want to launch another new eugenics operation, they announce it as a great “humanitarian program” that will save millions of lives. But their real goal is to control the population and prevent millions of lives from being born.
This was also reflected in Clinton’s remarks about the United Nations Population Fund. The United Nations Population Fund has been promoting abortion, forced sterilization and radical population control measures around the globe for decades, and Hillary Clinton was super excited to talk about how the U.S. government recently renewed funding for that organization….
This year, the United States renewed funding of reproductive healthcare through the United Nations Population Fund, and more funding is on the way. (Applause.) The U.S. Congress recently appropriated more than $648 million in foreign assistance to family planning and reproductive health programs worldwide. That’s the largest allocation in more than a decade – since we last had a Democratic president, I might add. (Applause.)
So what exactly is so bad about the United Nations Population Fund?
Not only does the United Nations Population Fund support and fund the forced abortion and infanticide of China’s “one child” program, they also promote abortion, forced sterilization and brutal eugenics programs throughout the developing world.
To learn much more about the United Nations Population Fund, please watch the four short videos below. They will leave you absolutely stunned….
The truth is that the United Nations Population Fund always has been and always will be about eugenics.
And thanks to Barack Obama, it is being funded with millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
But that wasn’t enough for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, so they have launched this new Global Health Initiative which will now be the “centerpiece” of U.S. foreign policy.
63 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars will be spent over the next six years to promote abortion, sterilization and “family planning” around the globe.
Sadly enough, there are people who are actually convinced that they will save the environment by reducing the population. They think that while promoting abortion and sterilization may not be the most pleasant thing to do, it must be done for the good of the planet.
Of course they are dead wrong, but the “true believers” do not understand this. All they know is that they have to keep all of the brown and black women in other countries from having babies so that we can save the planet.
We live in a world that is becoming more evil all the time. Every person on this planet has a fundamental right to have as many children as they want, but the truth is that this right is being stripped away from an increasing number of people.
We live at a time when even our most fundamental liberties as human beings are under attack. Let us hope that America wakes up and starts saying “no” to these kinds of policies.
We can agree with this on many levels. Though it is the loss of Freedom that we most object to, and we would certainly provide more updated “solutions” – such as: Honest Money, Collective bargaining for consumers, competitive offerings by healthcare / insurance providers, more emphasis on charity, and a gutting of Pharma control, the FDA, Monsanto, EPA clean water and air etc… What IS good; is that some of our friends we might consider “paleo-libs” have torn the mask off of Obama care in a way the right wing tea o cons are either too scared or too ignorant to do. ~ JB
Last November, the Supreme Court agreed to hear challenge arguments against Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – aka Obamacare.
From March 26 – 28, oral arguments on PPACA’s constitutionality will be heard, especially certain provisions. A decision is expected by June.
Contentious issues include:
- mandating all adults have health insurance or be taxed to compensate;
- PPACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions; and
- whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars courts from reviewing the individual mandate until it’s effective in January 2014; “severability” also is also at issue: namely, whether one issue can be struck down while leaving others intact.
Many of PPACA’s provisions took effect. Others, including the individual mandate, begin in January 2014. “Severability” opponents say PPACA provisions are too interconnected to permit striking it.
Lower courts differed on its constitutionality. Last June, the Six Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it based on the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. In August, a Florida district judge ruled it unconstitutional. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his decision. It found PPACA could stand if the individual mandate’s removed.
Last November, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia also upheld the individual mandate based on the Commerce Clause.
The Supreme Court chose to review the Florida case. It includes 25 other states as plaintiffs, as well as the National Federation of Independent Business.
In addition, 136 amicus briefs (“friends of the court”) were filed for Court consideration. It’s a third more than the previous record number.
Appellate lawyers specializing in preparing them say they cost from $25,000 – $50,000 each. During the Court’s last term, justices cited only 8% of 628 NGO briefs filed. Of those, around half were written by prominent Washington-based attorneys specializing in Supreme Court cases.
Former Justice John Paul Stevens complained of amici fatigue. Justice Antonin Scalia said he lets law clerks read them. As a result, groups filing them face stiff headwinds.
The High Court could rule several ways, including:
- striking the entire law, including the individual mandate;
- upholding the entire law;
- striking the individual mandate alone; or
- delay ruling for now.
In the meantime, debate again takes center stage, at least for a few days before again erupting when the Court rules in June.
PPACA: A Boon to Industry Predators
In 2010, Ralph Nader called Obamacare a sellout to Big PhAMA and other healthcare giants, saying:
It doesn’t “provide universal, comprehensive or affordable care to the American people. It shovels hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money (to predators that) created the problem.”
“It requires no contractual accountability or other benefits for people denied coverage under a pay-or-die system that’s the disgrace of the Western world.”
There’s no public option. Millions are left uninsured, millions more underinsured, and as poverty increases, so will their ranks exponentially.
“There’s (also) no free choice of doctor and hospital under this. There’s all kinds of exploit(ive provisions to let) health insurance (and drug) companies continue their ravenous ways over people who are (the) most vulnerable….when they’re sick or injured.”
Former CIGNA vice president, Wendell Potter said Obamacare lets insurers shift costs to consumers, offer inadequate or unaffordable access, force Americans to pay higher deductibles for less coverage, and end up scamming them.
“What worries me,” he said, “is that people who are forced to buy coverage and all they can afford to buy is a high deductible. (So) if they get really sick, they have to pay so much out of their own pockets that they’re going to be filing for bankruptcy or (lose) their homes.”
What the 1913 Federal Reserve Act did for bankers, PPACA may do for insurance, PhAMA, and hospital chain predators. Controlling one-sixth of the economy, they’re more than ever able to game the system by:
- making it dysfunctionally worse;
- selling junk insurance, leaving millions underinsured;
- keeping premiums unaffordable for full coverage;
- adding high deductibles and co-pays for less coverage;
- denying care by delaying, contesting, or preventing access;
- letting pharmaceutical companies provide toxic drugs at unaffordable prices, and avoid generic competition on new products by lengthy patent protection periods;
- assuring providers more customers and higher profits by requiring individuals and families buy insurance or be penalized; and
- by 2018, imposing an excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” plans to cut corporate costs, make workers pay more, force many to settle for less, be underinsured, and unable to obtain costly care without paying for what they can’t afford.
In March 2010, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) took “no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.”
Instead of fixing the “the profit-driven, private health insurance industry….this costly new legislation enrich(es) and further entrench(es it by forcing) millions of Americans to buy” defective coverage.
As a result, they’re worse off at a cost of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars given predators to game the system for profit.
Problems PNHP listed included:
- 23 million or more Americans will be uninsured; it “translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering;”
- millions will be forced to buy insurance “costing up to 9.5 percent of their income but covering” only 70% of their expenses; they’ll be left one serious health emergency away from bankruptcy and/or loss of their homes; moreover as costs rise, affordability declines proportionately;
- for most people, good policies are unaffordable or “too expensive to use because of the high co-pays and deductibles;”
- insurers get around $450 billion in public money “to subsidize (buying) their shoddy products;” they and other industry giants are also more than ever emboldened to block future reform;
- safety-net hospitals lose billions in Medicare and Medicaid payments; tens of millions of under and uninsured are left vulnerable without care when they most need it;
- workers with employer-based coverage face higher costs, fewer benefits, and restrictions on selecting providers;
- most will be hamstrung with future stiff costs because of unrestricted premium hikes, higher deductibles and co-pays;
- costs keep rising exponentially because Obamacare doesn’t contain them; providers can raise prices freely;
- so-called new regulations (like ending pre-existing condition denials) are riddled with loopholes, ambiguities, and legal interpretations to let insurers manipulate them advantageously; and
- “women’s reproductive rights (are) further eroded, thanks to the burdensome segregation of insurance funds for abortion and all other medical services.”
In other words, PPACA scammed the public with a package of expensive mandates, new taxes, sweetheart deals, and “a perpetuation of the fragmented, dysfunctional, and unsustainable system that is taking such a heavy toll on our health and economy today.”
It gets worse. Last summer, a study showed nearly one in 10 large and mid-sized companies planned to stop providing healthcare to employees by 2014. Another one suggested close to a third opting out once all PPACA provisions take effect.
Moreover, one in three employers provide temp or part-time workers no coverage. Expect that percentage to rise sharply.
Businesses with over 50 employees dropping coverage face fines up to $2,000 for each not covered. Providing it costs much more. In addition, most others providing insurance plan shifting more costs to workers.
Except for the very poor, households (individual or family) face 2% of income penalties.
PPACA’s a can of worms. Industry predators alone benefit. Growing millions are on their own out of luck.
No Debate on Universal Coverage
The Supreme Court challenge excludes the only equitable, effective solution: universal government provided full single-payer coverage, including dental, drugs, and everything else health related.
Everyone in. Nobody out, except industry predators able to game the system for profits at the public’s expense.
A Final Comment
Now age 88, Arnold S. Relman is Harvard Medical School Professor Emeritus and former New England Journal of Medicine editor-in-chief.
Ahead of PPACA’s enactment, he said “our health policies have failed to meet national needs because they have been heavily influenced by the delusion that medical care is essentially a business.”
Current proposals “for a more ‘consumer-driven’ health system are likely to make our predicament even worse. A different kind of approach could solve our problems, but it would mean a major reform of the entire system, not only the way it is financed and insured, but also how physicians are organized in practice and how they are paid.”
In 1980, he called America’s health system the “medical-industrial complex,” or in his assessment, a danger equivalent to Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex.”
He said market-based medicine assures unaffordability, “variable quality,” and inequity for millions. Only bottom line priorities matter. Patient needs are sorely neglected.
“Our present medical care system lacks the structure and incentives to provide proper care….A real solution to our crisis will not be found until the public, the medical profession, and the government reject the prevailing delusion that health care is best left to market forces.”
“Once it is acknowledged that the market is inherently unable to deliver the kind of health care system we need, we can begin to develop the ‘nonmarket’ arrangements for the system we want.”
On March 19, The New York Times published Relman’s letter headlined, “The Health Law Mandate,” saying:
The Times’ March 9 article titled, “White House Set to Shape Debate Over Health Law” omits a key argument against PPACA’s “mandated purchase of private insurance, the key issue before the Supreme Court.”
He said 50 doctors and two nonprofit organizations filed an amicus brief. It argued that “Congress could avoid a mandate by legislating a national single-payer system that provides nearly universal insurance coverage.”
Though flawed, comparable systems exist – Medicare and veterans’ health benefits. “(N)o legal barriers prevent doing more.”
“Since a mandate isn’t necessary for Congress to exercise its legitimate role in regulating health insurance, there is no justification under the Constitution’s ‘necessary and proper’ clause for such a legislative requirement.”
How this argument influences the Court “remains to be seen. But the brief is another reminder that the single-payer idea, although currently off the table in Washington, should not be counted out.”
It’s all that’s worth counting in as the only acceptable alternative. Healthcare’s a vital need, a universal right no just society should deny all its citizens and permanent residents.
America isn’t just and never was. That’s the core issue. The High Court won’t touch or resolve it.
People power alone can with commitment enough to accept nothing less than equity and justice for all, and not just on healthcare.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mitt Romney clearly aims to aid the bankers looting of the taxpayer. He favors central banking over free markets, and meddles in the economy by supporting bailouts over bankruptcy. This man may seem well rounded in the economic department but he works for wall street and receives the same support as Mr. Obama from the same banks. A vote for Romney in 2012 is a vote for the status quo, the big banks, and likely higher taxes as well.
The fact Mitt couldn’t address a short question about the NDAA and the Patriot Act is telling enough. I certainly don’t want a president whose Secret Service detail removes voters who voice their opinions, this is still America and dissent should be considered patriotism.
Thanks but no thanks Mitt.
Secrecy OR Privacy? Tempers Flare As Whitney Houston Fans Cry Foul Over Being Left Out Of Star’s Viewing
As Who’s Who Of Hollywood Arrives, The Taxpayer Wonders Why Not Us, Too?
Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina, 18, appeared at the private viewing. It was the first time she saw her mother since she died.
Security was very tight around the funeral home in order to give the family privacy. Police closed down Martin Luther King Boulevard. Near the funeral home fans were not allowed near the inner perimeter that had been been set up around the church, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.
The service inside was said to be sad, but at the same time celebratory, with Houston dressed in all white, her slender body not in a coffin, but fully displayed for family and friends who were sworn to secrecy.
“We want to keep it more peaceful and keep it quiet, and keep love and understanding and let’s keep the ministry of the music and what she meant,” family friend Steven Kahn told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis.
As three limos pulled out of the funeral home with a police escort fans were pushed away and moved up the street behind barricades. According to CBS 2’s Christine Sloan, that’s when tempers started to flare.
“I’m a taxpayer in the city … born and raised in this city … They should stop treating us like animals. We’re taxpayers … We made this lady who she is today,” resident Floyd Bishop said.
“Cissy Houston should come out and wave to us and say thank you. She shouldn’t have them keep us away. We bought her music. We helped succeed in what she had done over the years,” added Charlene Williams.
“Taxpayers paying for all this, treating us like we’re from the street or something. Make no sense,” resident Shawn Holsted said.
Because of the Houston family’s request for privacy police have had no choice but to keep the crowds away. Many fans understood.
“She came back to her home and we love her for that,” Carol Ray said.
“We would like closer … We are here to honor her memory … She’s from Newark and East Orange so everybody knows and we want to give her that respect,” Estelle Buchanan said.
Later, the Houston family funeral director, Carolyn Whigham, hand-delivered a small, colorful brochure on the life of Houston to those that had gathered — a token of thanks for disappointed fans.
“C’mon fans, thank you, you’re more than welcome. This is what Whigham Funeral Home is doing on behalf, I believe, in giving,” she said.
Earlier Friday, fans were able to share their memories of Whitney Houston in a condolence book.
Following the private service on Saturday, Houston will be laid to rest at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield next to her father, John Russell Houston Jr., who was buried there in 2003.
WCBS 880′s Levon Putney With Fans At The Funeral Home
Fans and childhood friends who won’t be attending the funeral have been leaving heartfelt messages of sympathy outside the funeral home.
“It’s the least that I could do for her, just to say goodbye,” said fan Simone Mercury. “My last final goodbyes to her.”
The throngs of fans being kept out of the private funeral are people who traveled here from near and far, reports CBS 2′s Dave Carlin.
“Greatest singer in the world as far as I’m concerned. The least I could do, really, is come here and pay my respects,” said Peter Chamberlain of England.
“She will always be present in our hearts and so special,” added Sarah Brinson of Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.
Houston’s funeral will be a who’s who of Hollywood. Among the invited celebrities is Kevin Costner, who co-starred with the singer in “The Bodyguard,” her mentor Clive Davis, Elton John, Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Dionne Warwick, Chaka Khan, and Houston’s Ex Husband, Bobby Brown.
Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin, is expected to sing. On Friday night, while pleasing a packed crowd inside Radio City Music Hall, the “Queen of Soul” sat behind a piano and gave a touching and heartfelt tribute to her goddaughter with her rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” reports CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez.
Franklin will continue her emotional dedication at Houston’s funeral Saturday at the request Houston’s mother, Cissy.
A dress, shoes and picture of Whitney Houston on display outside the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark on Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 (credit: Kathryn Brown/CBS 2)
The pastor of New Hope Baptist Church said the service will be similar to what Houston experienced as a child singing in the choir.
“This is a church and we’re going to have some church in the celebration,” said Pastor Joe A. Carter.
It’s a celebration that will steer clear of the cloud that engulfed Houston in recent years.
There is new video of a disheveled looking Houston outside a Los Angeles nightclub last Thursday and reports of hard partying at the Beverly Hilton, with the star drinking heavily as early as 10 a.m. on the Saturday before she died.
Police are looking at surveillance tapes and have subpoenaed Houston’s doctors.
A cause of death is listed as ”deferred” for now, pending toxicology reports.