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Main Street or Wall Street?

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Grinch
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0 posted 09-27-2008 08:46 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Wall street and in particular the American banking sector looks, at least from my somewhat distant view from across the pond,  to be in terminal disarray. Companies, many of them previously held up as shining examples of the best financial system in the world, seem to be going to the wall faster than a bricklayer on a bonus. In an effort to avert a total meltdown the government is proposing that the real bricklayers, shopkeepers and candlestick makers - Joe public, the American taxpayers - stump up $700 billion to bail them out.

Do you think that’s a good idea?

If it does go ahead what  safeguards do you think need to be put in place?

I’ll get the ball rolling.

I think it’s a bad idea, that there’s a real possibility that when given the bailout those companies that managed to get themselves into this pickle are highly likely to resume the pickling process and end up back in the same position at some point in the future. Apart from that there’s an obvious conflict of interest involved in the government having a financial say in the success of the banking sector’s bottom line. How tenable is it to have a government,  reliant on the revenue controlled by interest rates, being at the same time the same people that set the interest rates? On a cold wet Monday morning when the obvious fiscal policy is to reduce interest rates do you think it’s right that the deciding factor against such a reduction may be how that’ll affect the governments $700 billion investment?

If it does go ahead, and that’s highly likely, what safeguards should be put into place?

In my view I’d be pushing for one clause and one clause only. If a company decides to avail themselves of the offered bailout the board of that company have to take a leaf out of the Japanese code of honour and fall on their swords. I don’t mean that literally of course, the board members can just step down to be replaced by a government vetted board. That one caveat will ensure that the government has clear oversight of how the companies use the money, it’ll ensure that the numbwits that got the company into the state it is get their just reward - and I mean the boot rather than a golden handshake. It’ll also ensure that companies don’t simply dip into the bailout pot just because it’s there and take the opportunity to offload all their toxic investments without any painful consequences to consider.

What do you think.
SEA
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1 posted 09-27-2008 11:32 AM       View Profile for SEA   Email SEA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for SEA

I think the government should stay out of it. I don't want some greedy politician or otherwise government affiliated person with an agenda in an already corrupt company(ies). They knew the loans were risky, so did the people getting those loans. They knew it was interst only and that the rate would go up, that is what an ARM loan is. They knew that when they signed their names and they did not care, they only saw the big house and the small payment. It's all crap as far as I see. I say make the people pay their loans and if they can't, that sucks. They should not have a house they can not afford. Those places that did those loans have mostly closed. There are next to none left. Almost every single place is requireing FHA or their direct endorsement from an underwriter. It's so they can do the government loans. those risky loans are gone. For the most part, I'm sure folks can find shady deals if they really look.

But should the government bail out these companies? NOPE. I think the people should be held accountable for the bad deals they made, customers and lenders alike. If your company closes, then they should not have been so quick to do bad deals and give loans to people who clearly could not afford them.

If the government takes over these companies we are heading for a socialist society. You don't get something for nothing people....

But? That's just my thoughts.
Grinch
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2 posted 09-27-2008 11:48 AM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Do you think that’s a prevalent view among Americans Sea? I have to admit I get that impression, I read an article that suggested that representative’s phones were ringing off the hook with advocates in favour of the bailout being outnumbered by a reported 100 - 1.

The early signs seem to be that the British government is trying to avoid going down that path, preferring to deal with each company failure as and when they happen instead of putting a £50 billion bailout in place.

I keep coming back to the often touted mantra when times are good “Market forces set the price”, does it make sense to artificially manipulate the market when times look bleak instead of allowing it to find it’s own level?
SEA
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3 posted 09-27-2008 12:29 PM       View Profile for SEA   Email SEA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for SEA

I think it was around 70% that want the bailout. Not everyone does. I just don't think this is a good idea. It's not going to fix the problem. The banks just need to clean house and start fresh with higher standards. Greed is a big monster and I don't know how else to make that go away other than chopping heads.
rwood
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4 posted 09-27-2008 07:07 PM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

I'm not sure it matters what we think when many who are in control of such a bailout may also be deeply invested in the greedy turned needy.

Each and every one of those companies pay professionals to produce projections of losses. The bottom lines are tabled, quarterly, and poured over and over and over by other professionals, suits and company investors, and these figures are presented to the board, and the books are audited and their figures are produced to the board.

Any investor/auditor could/can walk into a finance office and ask for a printout of every penny on the books, both profitable and delinquent, since most banking and finance companies also have intricate computer finance systems which produce any and all figures with the press of a button.

AND

each financial institution, by law, has a reserve for losses in place, prior to the grand opening, prior to the first loan ever made, and it is fed by every loan payment made, directly out of profit, and then it fits neatly into the fund that isn't taxable, isn't that nice? And then when there are losses, those are neatly deducted, per IRS allowance. If such advantages for the banking industry doesn't help them stay afloat, then the officers are simply not qualified.

When the percent of delinquencies becomes more than the allowable percentage set in place than that of the reserve for losses, it doesn't take a genius to figure out how belly up the company is. It's simple math.

If your office is only allowed 2% delinquency a month and your prestomatic-uber-expensive-financial-program has just printed out a bottom line of 4% with $600,000 in delinquencies, well, guess what. It ain't damn time to go play golf.

I guaran-tee you, a lot more sweat was shed on a betting golf shot or a company bar tab, than over the bottom lines.

I say No. No bail.

They didn't even have to do the damn math. It's done for them.

There are too many people involved, too many state and fed audits to pass, too many pieces of investigative information, too many legal forms, too many policies, too many inspections, and too many signatures required, for the company and the signing party to NOT know the risks involved with each and every penny or piece of property they signed on the contractual line for.

Though if I had to pick a bail term?

I say give the banks a balloon note of 5 years at 2% interest then roll them at 20% interest on the balance at term. If they fail to meet the balance? Liquidate them.

Let the tables be turned.

Bush can take the loan out of the millions of dollars of taxes the IRS has sitting there, from stolen identities and illegal aliens who pay taxes but have never claimed them.
serenity blaze
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5 posted 09-27-2008 10:45 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I think I don't really understand everything enough to say what I think I think.

Is that wrong?

It seems to me that it is people like me, fussing over the "trivialities" of check-to-check living that are getting duped, and because we are the "machine" we don't have the luxury of deeper thought.

We are too damned tired.

Is there really a "bad guy" who is counting on that?

Was paying off the (our) mortgage a MISTAKE when having a mortgage in a flood-prone area guarantees affordable insurance?

Is it all a lie?

How afraid should we be?



What about retirement?

Do we trust that?

From a government that left us high and dry after a flood? Do we really trust the investments of a proven corrupt government?

I'm so confused.

Somebody talk itty bitty plain words to me?

I am genuinely frightened, and I know I'm not alone.

Balladeer
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6 posted 09-28-2008 09:41 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Well, you ask a good question, grinch, and I wish I had answers, too. How do most Americans feel about it? My guess would be that most are against it, who feel that the companies who engaged in shoddy loan-giving and the dumb donkeys who took loans that they knew were too good to be true should be the ones to pay for their actions.

How do I feel about it? Same way. People who have done things the right way, took responsible loans, make their payments every month should not be punished along with the donkeys. My blood also boils over the millions the CEO's are walking away with from these failed companies.

BUT....I also think that one has to look at the ramifications of such actions. I'm not smart enough to do that, I confess. Would it be cutting off the nose to spite the face? Would it be like cutting out a cancerous spot without taking into consideration how it would affect the rest of the body? THAT is what people a lot smarter than I have to decide. I'd like to be screaming "Burn the witches!", too, but I wouldn't want the flames from the bonfire to burn down my house or the town.

Hoping for the best and prepared for the worst....

Me
Local Rebel
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7 posted 09-28-2008 01:30 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

For the largest financial crisis to hit the United States since the Great Depression – I'll come out of retirement.

Blazey – in as plain English as I can muster;

A few decades back – the political climate in this country turned from the reforms that were put in place after the Great Depression to favor less regulation and towards 'trickle down' economics.  This was preceded by the separation of the value of the Dollar from the Gold Standard a few years earlier.

The effect this had on the value of everything was that nothing has any value – other than what you can get for it on the open market.  

Stock values were no longer traded on the actual value that companies were building – but rather – traded in a giant ponzi-scheme.  This being the case – most companies that were traded publicly decided that it wasn't really in the interest of the stockholders to actually make things that made profit anymore – but that it was better to make decisions based on what would drive up the market capitalization – or the price that people were willing to pay for their stock.  

When each scheme would hit a bubble and burst – the companies that were the ponzi-scheme masters – namely – the insurance companies – needed newer and better places to make investments.  Enter then, with the collapse of the Dot.com bubble – the real-estate bubble and the sub-prime mortgage.

Stripping away nearly all of the regulations that were designed to keep banks from collapsing (also known as check-kiting) a new system of loaning money to people who couldn't pay it back at loan-shark interest rates was developed – with the stated intention that real-value would increase because along with an increasing population there would be an increase in the actual rate of real-estate development – so that Mike's swampland in Florida he's been trying to sell me for the last decade would finally, actually be worth something.

Now, the banks and mortgage lenders didn't want to actually have to wait for these risky loans to be repaid in order to have more money to lend out – so – they took all of the paper these loans were written upon – and sold them to people who were completely unregulated – who then bundled them together with some less risky mortgage and loan paper they had purchased and put them up for resale on Wall Street.

So, like kiting checks – this money was sold over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and people were skimming from it every time that it sold.

What's even better is that with the invention of the 401k retirement fund, and money-market funds – when ordinary people who had taken out those mortgages needed a place to save for retirement – there became no better place than the inflating balloon of Wall Street – so that – in effect – they were re-investing, at a greatly inflated price, in their own mortgage.

Meanwhile – the companies they worked for that made those 401k's possible – kept sending their jobs overseas and laying them off, and laying them off, and laying them off, and laying them off – because every time a company announced to Wall Street that it was downsizing it's stock PRICE would shoot up.

So, being laid off from work – the people who were supposed to be repaying those mortgages started defaulting on them.  Especially when the interest rates on them shot up to the point when they were no longer affordable.  But, not to worry – they were told – when borrowing – when the time came all they were going to have to do was re-finance those adjustable rate mortgages with a lower fixed rate mortgage.

Now as the dominoes tumble through the financial sector – they've gone all the way up to the top of the food chain – and our entire financial system is wrecked.

If we don't print some more funny money to keep the monopoly game going – people will not be able to get more financing for anything – which is the bottom-up fuel to an economy where the entire populace has a net-negative value.

There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  No new loans means no new sales means more layoffs, and more layoffs, and more defaulting, and so on and so on.

Such is the nature of voodoo economics.

Also known as – there are no capitalists in an economic crisis.
Huan Yi
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8 posted 09-28-2008 03:41 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.

I don’t like the idea, yet I understand the impacts
if nothing is done to stem a panic which is how I
view this, (Bill Clinton noted that over 50% of
Americans are invested in Wall Street).   The Government
is not going to give 700 billion for nothing and in fact
like many investors with the money and patience may
and probably will,  (depending on the valuation of
the “toxic” assets),  come out very well in the end..

Yet I also think “marked to market” needs to be looked at.
Further I consider “naked short selling” to be rumor
mongering, ( I am suspicious of how  the financial
institutions seem to come under fire in sequence like
a series of targets which, then one at a time, starts everyone
running out their doors).

And of course there is the CRA and similar laws
which need some hard review.  I question the wisdom
of making financial institutions put their and the well
being of their investors, (which include depositors),
at risk for the political sake of social policy.  

.


serenity blaze
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9 posted 09-28-2008 06:55 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Thank you Reb. I have missed you sooooo much and hope you're well.

And I'm not smart enough for all of this stuff...and I quit trying to understand everything.

But I sleep at night now.

Every night, too!

Love you sweets! Yer a doll.
Denise
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10 posted 09-29-2008 02:57 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Nice to see you again Reb. You have been missed. I was just thinking about you the other day. I heard that Fortis, located somewhere in Europe, has gone under, or is just about too. They are the company that holds my life insurance policy. They bought it from another company a few years back. Does this mean that I no longer have life insurance, or will some other company buy them out and honor the contract. I've been paying premiums since the early 1990's.
threadbear
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11 posted 09-29-2008 04:17 PM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

From the FINANCIAL TIMES - John Kay Editorial
" "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were probably the world's most heavily supervised financial institutions.  They already had this massive oversight agency examining what they do."  That's what makes this even more outrageous.  "They were subject to a specialist agency.  It's called the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.  The office employed 236 people at the time of its last annual report.  The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight did not fail because it was understaffed or not well informed about Fannie Mae's activities, but because it lacked authority.  The entire staff earned less in aggregate than Franklin Raines, the CEO who masterminded the expansion."  So you had an oversight agency that had no authority.  "

MORE government oversight hasn't worked in the past, and didn't work here.  It is interesting to note, by the way, that good ol' hated Bush wanted to replace the innefective committee but Barney Frank said :"They're not facing any kind of financial crisis." 2003
The Democrats unilaterally nixed the idea.
There is surely enough blame to go around, but the time for oversight was THEN, not now.

236 people were employed simply to watch Fannie and Freddie, and they lacked any teeth to do anything more than advise.  How does that happen?  This was a Clinton appointed committee, not Bush.  The Freddie Mac CEO was Franklin Raines, a close Obama advisor and insider, who ran the company into the ground in the first place.  He walked away with $100,000,000 in bonus monies after he was kicked out as CEO.  He then when to work for Obama.  Glass Houses and stones, Obama, glass houses and stones.
Grinch
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12 posted 09-29-2008 05:04 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
MORE government oversight hasn't worked in the past, and didn't work here.


OK got that - history says that more oversight doesn’t work.

quote:
Bush wanted to replace the innefective committee


Presumably with another with more oversight which, according to your first statement wouldn’t have worked either.

quote:
The Democrats unilaterally nixed the idea.


Which would have made no difference whatsoever according to your first statement.

quote:
Franklin Raines, a close Obama advisor and insider


Or maybe not..

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/09/19/_the_ad_obama_has.html
threadbear
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13 posted 09-29-2008 05:33 PM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

The author of the Washington Post says the source of the article is no other than Raines himself:
Who was the source for Ms. Huslin's assertion that the Obama campaign had solicited Mr. Raines' advice? Mr. Raines himself.

"I asked Huslin to provide the exact circumstances of that passage," wrote Michael Dobbs, who writes the Post's Fact Checker blog. "She said she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked 'if he was engaged at all with the Democrats' quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said, Oh, general housing, economy issues.'"

While oversight committees are a necessary evil, they are often prone to cronyism.  It's obvious that this current committee was beholden to Clinton, and either didn't yell loud enough or have enough clout or didn't try hard enough to get the politicians attention.  Unfortunately, the only solution to getting rid of a corrupt or ineffective committee is to get rid of them entirely and replace them in toto.  Had the Bush proposal gone through, BOTH parties would have had a say in the selection process.
Grinch
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14 posted 09-29-2008 06:01 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Threadbear,

The Washington post said that Huslin said that Raines said..

Sounds like a whole bunch of hearsay if you ask me, especially when Raines is telling anyone who’ll listen that it’s not what he actually said.

What irritates a lot of people though is the non-sequitur logic that starts with a couple of calls from campaign aides about “general housing and economy issues” and reaches the conclusion that Raines was “a close Obama advisor and insider”.

quote:
While oversight committees are a necessary evil


Hang on, weren’t you just arguing that they never worked, something about history and all that. Why are they necessary if they don’t work?

threadbear
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15 posted 09-29-2008 06:48 PM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

"Despite his short tenure on the national stage, Obama is the second-leading recipient of campaign contributions from the political action committees and employees of Fannie Mae and sister government-sponsored enterprise Freddie Mac since 1989 -- $165,400 in all -- according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the financing of congressional and presidential campaigns."  CQ POLITICS 9/27

Same article:
"Obama has an even stronger link to the former leadership of Fannie Mae: He tapped another former Fannie CEO, Jim Johnson, to head his vice presidential selection committee. But Johnson was forced aside when it was revealed that he had been the beneficiary of a low-interest loan from Countrywide Financial Corp."

As far as credibility is concerned,  Raines, is an admitted liar and conman to the tune of millions.  Do you really think he didn't lie to protect Obama, after stating he had conversations with Obama about housing and economy previously?   On the believability scale, I believe it would be 95% probably he DID say it, and 5% improbable that the conversations never existed.  
Grinch
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16 posted 09-29-2008 07:07 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Threadbear,

Now I’m just confused.

Let me try to get this straight - Raines is a compulsive liar but we should believe what the Washington Post reported that he allegedly said to Huslin.

Sorry if I’m stating the bleeding obvious but why the heck should we believe anything he allegedly said to Huslin if the guy‘s a liar?

It may indeed be 95% probable that he said it but by the same logic it’s 95% probable that he was lying through his teeth when he did.

threadbear
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17 posted 09-29-2008 07:16 PM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

I admit, sir, you have a point there:  which is the truth and the lie?

It's been my observation that liars tell the truth initially, unless accused of something at the time, and when it goes sour, THEN lie.  It's called deniability.  Seldom does a liar tell a lie without a reason.  In the Washington Post case, it was just an innocent question about his connection to Obama long before all this fallout began, so he wouldn't have a reason to cover his butt then, but would have EVERY reason to do it now.    Maybe I'm just distrusting of CEO's and [politicians in general, but I have a tendency to go with their 'first statement not under duress' before the endless denail contradictions occur.  This is said from my journalistic point of view.  This is one of many tools that journalists use to determine whether further questioning is needed:  did the questionee have a reason to coverup initially?  If not, then the lie occured later.  
Grinch
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18 posted 09-29-2008 07:55 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Threadbear,

I think the phrase you’re looking for is “gut feeling”, that’s fine there’s nothing wrong with taking a punt on a possibility, I do it all the time, we all do. Though I’m not sure it’s a good thing when it comes to journalism, I tend towards wanting the facts from journalists’ so that I can draw my own conclusions. Reading someone else’s conclusions takes the fun out of things.

Let’s say I go with your gut feeling and that Raines did actually say that he’d had contact with a couple of Obama’s campaign aides to talk about “general housing and economy issues”. How does that make him a close Obama advisor and insider?

This is just a gut feeling of course but could the denial by Raines actually be a refutation that he was anything even approaching an advisor? In which case he told the truth in the first instance and the truth in the second.

Maybe he’s just a bad liar.

Not A Poet
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19 posted 09-29-2008 11:45 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

A form of circle-speak?

A paradox: This statement is not true.
But if not true then false it has to be
And yet, if false, then true it would be too,
A paradox, this statement is not true,
But false or true, it cannot be the two.
With clarity, I think that all should see
The paradox, this statement is not true,
For if not true then false it cannot be.

quote:
I tend towards wanting facts from journalists.


Well, good luck there, my friend.
threadbear
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20 posted 09-30-2008 12:33 AM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

Hey, Grinch.  You asked earlier:  why did I recommend a committee when they don't obviously work?  A committee with teeth is what i recommend.  When the gov't took over Freddie/Fannie, the oversight group was formed with the intention of monitoring loans, and not punishing any violators.  Any new legislation must have punitive measures; the FDIC chairman, much to his chagrin, MUST spell out loud and proud major violations in the future.  Any new committee MUST be bi-partisan in nature, and possibly have two CEO heads instead of one as a check and balance system.

    All this wouldn't be necessary if people just did their jobs in the first place, but in Washington, you either are 'part of the team' (meaning the team in power) or you're out of the loop.  For CEO's, this is doom and gloom since their stockholders and board members are high ranking officials and peers for the largest companies.  I really don't think the public as a whole has any idea of how head-nod deals take place in Washington, and I'm not talking about politicans necessarily.  Each of these lobbyists, CEO's and politicians involved in burying this story have one of two interests:  power or money.  It's a rare person in Washington who puts the public's interest first, and their personal gain second.  That, my friend, is the prime reason Washington is so frigged up.

     So...if we want any real change, we must make sure an auditing committee has no direct ties to the government (such as the GAO), and also has some punitive powers.

  I walk the walk:  I've been debt free for 10 years:  i pay cash for my cars, don't own credit cards (except for secured ones) and don't owe one dollar in arrears to anyone except my monthly utilities.  When I tell people this, 100% of the respondees say:  Gee, I wish I was that lucky.    Luck had nothing to do with it. It was personal choice, and nothing more.  The thing that scares me is that the respondees ALL owe big bucks.  How come no-one is debt free anymore or close to it?  Ok, i get that everyone has a house payment, but everything else should be budgeted.  I'm just sayin....
Balladeer
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21 posted 09-30-2008 12:46 AM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

What you're "just sayin'", sir, makes a lot of sense to me.
Grinch
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22 posted 09-30-2008 02:39 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
You asked earlier: why did I recommend a committee when they don't obviously work?


Actually I asked earlier why you recommended a committee when YOU believed they didn’t work. I think some committees work quite well.

Huan Yi
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23 posted 09-30-2008 08:12 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


My question:

Why did 95 Democrats
including Jesse Jackson Junior
vote against the bill?


.

Grinch
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24 posted 09-30-2008 08:59 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Huan,

Probably for similar reasons that prompted 165 Republicans to vote against it.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/30/bailout.reax/

 
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