Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Vote Fails

Saddest Thing About This Mess: Congress Had Chance To Stop It


By Terry Jones
Posted 9/26/2008

Could the crisis at Fannie Mae (FNM) - Freddie Mac (FRE) and the subprime meltdown have been avoided?

The answer is yes.

As early as 1992, alarm bells were going off on the threat Fannie and Freddie posed to our financial system and our economy. Intervention at any point could have staved off today's crisis. But Democrats in Congress stood in the way.

As the president recently said, Democrats have been "resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me . . . to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

No, it wasn't President Bush who said that; it was President Clinton, Democrat, speaking just last week.

Interesting, because it was his administration's relentless focus on multiculturalism that led to looser lending standards and regulatory pressure on banks to make mortgage loans to shaky borrowers.

Freddie and Fannie, backed by an "implicit" taxpayer guarantee, bought hundreds of billions of dollars of those subprime loans.

The mortgage giants, whose executive suites were top-heavy with former Democratic officials (and some Republicans), worked with Wall Street to repackage the bad loans and sell them to investors.

As the housing market continued to fall in 2007, subprime loan portfolios suffered major losses. The crisis was on? though it was 15 years in the making.

Democrats Blocked Reform

Just as Republicans got blamed for Enron, WorldCom and other early-2000s scandals that were actually due to the anything-goes Clinton era, the media are now blaming them for the mortgage meltdown.

But Republicans tried repeatedly to bring fiscal sanity to Fannie and Freddie. Democrats opposed them, especially Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank, who now run Congress' key banking panels.

History is utterly clear on this.

After Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers warned Congress in 1999 of the "systemic risk" posed by Fannie and Freddie, Congress held hearings the next year.

But nothing was done. Why? Fannie and Freddie had donated millions to key congressmen and radical groups, ensuring no meaningful changes would take place.

"We manage our political risk with the same intensity that we manage our credit and interest rate risks," Fannie CEO Franklin Raines, a former Clinton official and current Barack Obama adviser, bragged to investors in 1999.

In November 2000, Clinton's HUD hailed "new regulations to provide $2.4 trillion in mortgages for affordable housing for 28.1 million families." It made Fannie and Freddie take part in the biggest federal expansion of housing aid ever.

Soon after taking office, Bush had his hands full with the Clinton recession and 9/11. But by 2003, he proposed what the New York Times called "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago."

The plan included a new regulator for Fannie and Freddie, one that could boost capital mandates and look at how they managed risk.

Even after regulators in 2003 uncovered a scheme by Fannie and Freddie executives to overstate earnings by $10.6 billion to boost bonuses, Democrats killed reform.

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not facing any kind of financial crisis," said Rep. Frank, then-ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.

North Carolina Democrat Melvin Watt accused the White House of "weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing."

In 2005, then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress: "We are placing the total financial system of the future at substantial risk."

McCain Urged Changes

That year, Sen. John McCain, one of three sponsors of a Fannie-Freddie reform bill, said: "If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole."

Sen. Harry Reid, now Majority Leader, accused the GOP of trying to "cripple the ability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to carry out their mission of expanding homeownership."

The bill went nowhere.

This year, the media have repeated Democrats' talking points about this being a "Republican" disaster. Well, McCain has repeatedly called for reforming the mortgage giants. The White House has repeatedly warned Congress. This year alone, Bush urged reform 17 times.

Some GOP members are complicit. But Fannie and Freddie were created by Democrats, regulated by Democrats, largely run by Democrats and protected by Democrats.

That's why taxpayers are now being asked for $700 billion.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moosic Barletta Event

The Moosic Republicans will host a Meet and Greet Pizza Party for Congressional Candidate Lou Barletta on Sunday, October 5th from 2-4pm.

The Pizza Party will be at Grande's Pizza, 4200 Birney Ave, Moosic, PA. The Event is Free and open to the public.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New McCain-Palin Ad

New NRA Obama ad

Debate Watching Party



to the FIRST Campaign Briefiing and Debate Watching Party

Thursday October 2
7 PM at Arcaro and Genell's Restaurant, Old Forge.

At the famous Old Forge restaurant you will hear a campaign overview from a top campaign official for Pennsylvania, learn about election day tactics, enjoy fine Old Forge Pizza and watch Sarah debate Joe Biden.

PLEASE CALL 604-0809 or EMAIL BY OCT 1st
so we can provide a count to Arcaro and Genell's

Friday, September 26, 2008

Barletta receives ‘A’ rating from NRA, endorsed by Gun Owners of America and Firearm Owners Against Crime

HAZLETON – U.S. Congressional candidate Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and the endorsements of two other leading national gun rights groups on Sunday.

Representatives from several leading pro-Second Amendment groups attended at a “day at the range” with Mayor Barletta to present their endorsements.
Firearms Owners Against Crime and Gun Owners of America both strongly endorsed Mayor Barletta at the Mainville Sportsman Club in Columbia County.
Kim Stolfer, chairman of Firearms Owners Against Crime, said the organization strongly supports Mayor Barletta because of his strong support of Second Amendment rights.

“The choices will be between an entrenched bureaucrat who wants to impose more government control over our personal freedoms and acquiesces to the party bosses on important social issues, or a candidate who will respect the rights of all Pennsylvanians, including an individual’s choice on how to protect their families and property. The right choice is clearly Lou Barletta,” a FOAC endorsement release states. “Lou Barletta has the kind of independence and dedication that will be of immense benefit to not only his constituents but ‘all’ Pennsylvania citizens as well.”

“Lou Barletta has clearly set himself apart from his opponent by demonstrating the willingness and desire to abide by his oath to the Constitution and to act in the best interests of his constituents. We are convinced that he has the wherewithal to make the tough decisions,” Stolfer said.

John Velleco, director of federal affairs for the Gun Owners of America, said, “Gun owners and sportsmen in Pennsylvania deserve a reliable voice to represent them in the U.S. Congress. The incumbent representative has a mixed record on the gun issue, voting in favor of gun rights when it is politically expedient to do so, while at other times toeing the line of anti-gun Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“For example, just this year the incumbent voted for a bill to repeal the gun ban in the nation’s capitol, but it is unlikely that bill will ever get to the president’s desk,” Velleco said. “However, he was against protecting Second Amendment rights on National Park Service land in a vote that failed by a razor thin margin.

“Pennsylvanians want representatives who will not talk one way in Hazleton and another in the Speaker’s office,” Velleco added.
Mayor Barletta received the “A” rating from the NRA earlier this month. The “A” rating is the highest Mayor Barletta – the challenger – could receive in this race.

Presidential Debate

Volunteers will gather at 430 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton PA 18503 tonight to watch the debate and make calls for McCain-Palin.

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Paul Kanjorski sneaking into the “Kanjorski-Rangel Financial Crisis Fundraiser.” Here is a link to the menu of the establishment.

New Rankings

From the Washington Post:

Top 25 House races most likely to switch parties.

15. Pennsylvania's 10th district (D): This is among the quietest competitive races in the country. Rep. Chris Carney (D) hasn't done much to make himself vulnerable in his first two years in office but this northeastern Pennsylvania district leans strongly toward Republicans and GOP strategists expect John McCain and Sarah Palin to run well there. (Previous ranking: 16)
7. Pennsylvania's 11th district (D): Every cycle there is (at least) one incumbent who has done himself such grave political damage that reelection becomes an impossibility. It's looking increasingly likely that Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D) is that guy this year. (Previous ranking: 7)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Senator John McCain and his wife, Cindy, will visit Scranton Monday, September 22.

Monday's event is set for 10:30 a.m. at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple on North Washington Avenue. Doors will open at 8:30 a.m.

Tickets will be distributed at the following locatons:

Lackawanna County McCain Victory Center
430 Lackawanna Avenue
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Luzerne County Chris Hackett for Congress
23 Dallas Shopping Center
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Luzerne County GOP Headquarters
25 Public Square
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Monroe County McCain Victory Center
112 Park Avenue
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bush Stumps for Hackett

Laura Bush visits area, helps garner more than $100,000 for Hackett, other Republicans at $1,000-per-person brunch

September 19
A fundraising first lady
By Andrew M. Seder
Staff Writer

MOOSIC – A Thursday brunch raised more than $100,000 for Chris Hackett’s congressional campaign efforts. Thousands more were taken in for the PA Victory Campaign, which supports federal- and state-level Republican candidates.

Amato gets property up to speed for first lady’s visit
But it wasn’t the breakfast burritos, a former world champion drag racer or Hackett most of the people came to see. Instead, about 100 people paid $1,000 each for a meet-and-greet with first lady Laura Bush.

Bush, who spent an hour signing autographs, posing for pictures and chatting up guests, did not grant an interview with the media, who were not invited to the visit.

Hackett said the first lady’s appearance on his campaign’s behalf meant a lot to him and local party leaders who are focusing their efforts on regaining the seat for the GOP.

The visits by high-profile GOP members won’t end with Bush. Lynn Swann, a former Pittsburgh Steeler who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, will stump locally for Hackett on Oct. 9, though further details were not finalized, according to the Hackett campaign.

“I think it’s a great message that the Republican Party believes this seat is important enough for the first lady to come out to do an event,” Hackett said.

Terry Casey, chairman of the Luzerne County Republican Party, said Bush talked about the importance of having a Republican win the seat back.

“She knew the district was always Republican and she told everyone the party has to win the seat back,” Casey said after the event.

Hackett, a Kingston Township businessman, is trying to defeat freshman U.S. Rep. Chris Carney, D-Dimock Township. Prior to Carney, Republicans held the seat for more than four decades.

Hackett freely admitted most people came to the event, held at former world-record-holding drag racer Joe Amato’s home, to see Bush not him. But there were some who said the overall cause of electing a Republican whose values mirror theirs was a factor.

Rocco Chierichella, of Masthope, Pike County, carried a binder filled with pictures with President George Bush. It was his third time meeting Laura Bush. He said he came to support Hackett, and Republicans in Pike County will do whatever they can to see to it that he defeats Carney.

He ripped the incumbent congressman’s record and said his support of presidential candidate Barack Obama illustrates “(Carney’s) not the guy for this country.”

He said Hackett, like GOP presidential nominee John McCain, will put the military and the safety and security of all Americans ahead of politics. Chierichella said Carney might say he votes his district rather than his party, but he hasn’t seen it.

“The bottom line is, on most important issues, he’s (Carney) voting with Democrats. You can have a military background, but when you put politics ahead of the country, you’ve clouded your judgment,” he said.

Carney’s campaign manager, Vincent Rongione, took offense to allegations his boss puts politics before national security.

“Congressman Carney is the only candidate in this race who was ever served this country in uniform. He has spent the greater portion of his adult life serving our nation and working as a counter-terrorism expert. He continues to be one of only two members of Congress who still serve actively in the military. The war on terror is not a partisan issue,” Rongione said.

He went on to say Carney “has held 27 town hall meetings in 20 months and always puts the people of northeast and central Pennsylvania first.”

While there was some tough talk against Carney and the Democrats, some focused on the lady of the hour instead of attacking Carney.

Keith and Mary Ann Olsommer, of Sterling, Wayne County, have met presidents before but never a first lady.

“This was our first first lady,” Keith Olsommer said. “She was very personable. I thought she was outstanding.”

Kanjorski Votes Against His Own Bill

He Flips! He Flops!

U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski Tuesday night voted against an energy bill he co-sponsored and praised earlier this summer. He then voted for a bill that includes provisions he had opposed.

Kanjorski signed on as a co-sponsor of House Resolution 6709, a bipartisan bill called the National Conservation, Environment, and Energy Independence Act, on July 3. The bill, which would have lifted the ban on offshore drilling, had broad bipartisan support and Kanjorski was one of its 138 co-sponsors.

H.R. 6709 would repeal the offshore ban and allow drilling beyond 25 miles from shore, with states having complete authority from 25 to 50 miles off their coastline. Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, voted against that measure on Tuesday, which subsequently failed .Minutes later, he voted for H.R. 6899, which passed. That bill bans offshore drilling within 50 miles of shore.

In a prepared release Friday, Kanjorski explained why he voted against the energy bill he co-sponsored and in favor of the other version.

“The energy legislation which passed in the House on Tuesday with my support drew heavily from the Peterson-Abercrombie bill, of which I was an original co-sponsor,” Kanjorski said. “Working to pass comprehensive energy legislation has been a compromise as legislation continues to evolve and improve. Though I do not agree with every aspect of Tuesday’s bill, particularly in that I would like more of an emphasis on domestic drilling; it gives us something solid to build on.”

Kanjorski said legislation enacted in 2006 placed a moratorium on drilling in much of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to protect military areas off the coast of Florida from oil development. After much debate on the House floor on Tuesday, Kanjorski said he became aware of the importance of the moratorium for the military areas, which the Peterson-Abercrombie bill did not protect and could therefore hurt national security.

In a prepared release, Kanjorski’s opponent in the 11th District Congressional race, Republican Lou Barletta, said Kanjorski’s vote will do nothing to reduce the price of gasoline, heating oil or natural gas.

“His vote was one he made for political cover,” Barletta said. “If he wanted meaningful action, he would have voted for the bill he co-sponsored back in July. Instead, he played games and passed a sham bill to get political cover for the upcoming election.”

Debates in PA-11

Pocono Record
September 19, 2008

To debate or not to debate: That is the question.

U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-11, says he does not have enough time to participate in more than one debate with his Republican challenger Lou Barletta during this hotly contested campaign season. That single debate is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 29, at WVIA public television studio in Pittston, and will be televised.

Oct. 29 is a scant week before the election. It's not enough time. It's not enough face-to-face discussion between separate campaigns that have already stretched over weeks and months.

Barletta, mayor of Hazleton, says he is willing to debate in every county in the district, which encompasses all of Monroe, Carbon and Columbia counties as well as parts of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, including Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. That's a diverse district. Fast-growing Monroe County, for example, with its near-constant school construction and newcomer-old-timer conflicts, has vastly different issues from many other parts of the district. Surely a debate here would be a golden opportunity for Pocono area residents to see which candidate is better attuned to issues that are important here in the northeast.

Kanjorski spent some time Monday in Monroe County attending the grand opening of Chaperone Technologies, a new company joining East Stroudsburg University's Business Accelerator unit of high-tech startups. He had helped provide federal funding for the accelerator and said the only reason he was able to attend was that he was en route to Washington, D.C., for a voting session.

Barletta is running his second challenge to the 12-term incumbent. The feisty mayor made a national name for himself by taking a hard line on illegal immigration in Hazleton. A court ruling later overturned as unconstitutional an ordinance he pushed through. Barletta is spoiling for more opportunities to take on Kanjorski directly.

Debates do showcase candidates out of a choreographed comfort zone, answering questions from the public and batting the issues back and forth. The forum gives those attending and those watching on television, when the event is aired, an opportunity to watch and compare not only the candidates' answers but how they handle themselves under the pressure of a public event that challenges them to think on their feet. The Pocono Record would be more than willing to host such a debate at a venue of the candidates' choosing.

Kanjorski should re-think his one-debate-only declaration. Sure, he's busy — who isn't? — and likely busier than most. But he's asking citizens to vote for him. He ought to be willing to face their questions in person. Only then can they decide to vote or not to vote for Kanjorski or Barletta.