NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • On Obama SOTU: New Financial Fraud Commision Could Actually Slow Down Investigations


    Tom Ferguson: Financial Fraud Commission could be used to slow down investigations taking place at the State level -   January 25, 12
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter


    I support The Real News Network because it is news - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Transcript

    On Obama SOTU: New Financial Fraud 
Commision Could Actually Slow Down 
InvestigationsPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington.

    On Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his State of the Union. And now joining us to give us his take on it is Tom Ferguson. Tom is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Thanks for joining us, Tom.

    THOMAS FERGUSON, SENIOR FELLOW, ROOSEVELT INSTITUTE: Hi, there.

    JAY: So what's your first big-picture take on this speech?

    FERGUSON: Well, it's—I'm sort of underwhelmed, intrigued in some cases. But look, you know, a lot of crucial stuff is just quickly sketched, and, you know, one has to ask how seriously you should take this. In particular, you know, if he were to do a seriously big mortgage refinancing program—which he briefly alluded to, just flew past it—that would be, I think, a really striking thing, and it would likely have a huge effect on the economy. You know, their record is, however, in the last three years they keep announcing programs, and then they all fail. I would like to—you know, we'll just have to look and see on this.

    On some other aspects of this I'm really troubled. There's—the language justification is in terms of jobs, but if you look closely, most of what he's proposing is really one form or another of subsidy to a business—big promotion of exports, you know, accelerated tax write-offs to sort of get them to change plants and things like that.

    You know, I have to tell you that what was missing here is any serious effort to put this in the context of all the other things he's been pushing, by which I mean macroeconomic austerity, this sort of endless focus on the deficit. Now, you know, he's trying to get reelected, so we're not going to hear too much about the deficit. But my best guess is is that these folks are not planning to seriously change course on the economy. Instead, they're proposing a whole set of myriad breaks—tax breaks and special subsidies. I think you'd be much better off by, frankly, dropping lots of that stuff and just go back to a sort of reasonable macroeconomic policy that would try to actually put enough demand in the economy to add jobs.

    JAY: Well, one of the things he's bragging about in the speech is that all of his job measures, all of the economic measures are done through the private market, through subsidies or something, to make it easier for private business, as you said. He talked about health care was about reforming the private market, not a government plan. And all—so far, most of the stimulus spending that's had any effect at all has actually been stimulus money that wound up going to states and municipalities so they didn't lay off too many people.

    FERGUSON: Yup.

    JAY: And any other kind of stimulus that was supposed to be met through the private sector hasn't had that much effect.

    FERGUSON: No, that's right. And, you know, you can—I mean, there is an inherent self-contradiction in what he professes to be trying to do, exactly along those lines. I'm thinking in particular of the stuff on education. I don't think there's much doubt that a lot of people could benefit from a great deal more education. But, you know, he's not going to be able to sort of—I mean, the main avenue for education in the United States are the states. Federal government programs work mostly through those. And the states are pretty well bust at this point, they're really strained in their budgets, and you're not going to be able to get around that. I mean, in particular, [incompr.] mentioned higher ed budgets. Well, you know, most higher ed budgets have been crimped to the point where public higher education is really almost ceasing to exist in slow stages, and, you know, it's being crowded out by, actually, more—in most cases, more expenditures for medical care of one type or another. And the president hasn't got any real serious proposals along those lines to do much other than, you know, the stuff he alluded to back when he was [incompr.] health care.

    JAY: Well, probably 10, 15 percent of this speech has to do with some real policy initiative, and 80, 85 percent is about political theater and positioning himself. And I—to my mind, he accomplished something. He certainly looked presidential. He looked like he had some ideas. And you compare that to the clown show that's been going on in the Republican Party—at least has some effect now. But the one thing I thought that maybe is meaningful in this, because most of what he proposed won't get passed through Congress, so it really is just electioneering, but he seemed to suggest he's going to use an executive order to use public lands, and something—I didn't quite get it, exactly—something that the Armed Forces are going to buy clean energy, he's going to use an executive order to develop a clean energy on federally owned lands. So what—I don't know if you had any time to digest that.

    FERGUSON: I did. Well, I mean, I'm familiar. I mean, that's to sort of just push forward some ideas that have been around for a while. It's simply another form of energy subsidy. It might make sense or might not. I mean, this is one of these cases where, you know, it's all going to depend on the details. I mean, I certainly think that the real costs of oil and gas, especially oil, are, you know, a good deal higher than just in the price of the thing at the tank. So, you know, I think the clean energy thing makes social sense. But, you know, I—it's impossible to tell what he's talking about from the speech, and there's no point in there—.

    Let me make just a couple of comments. I have real problems with that suggestion of the task force on housing that he was—pardon me—on mortgages abuses. I mean, in particular, you know, you got to ask: what's the matter with Holder (the attorney general) and the rest of the people in the administration? Why does he have to have sort of state attorney generals joining him? Up till now it's been the state attorney generals that have been actually successfully pushing the containment [crosstalk]

    JAY: Yeah, for people that didn't see the whole speech, let me just say that this is about one of the moments in the speech. President Obama says he's going to have a task force to investigate fraud and abuses that took place during the mortgage crisis.

    FERGUSON: Yeah. And I have to tell you, Paul, it looks to me like an effort to rein in the attorneys general. And I rather doubt that Mr. Schneiderman is serving the public interest by going along with that, though I understand the incentives there. And this looks like an effort to rein in those attorneys general [in favor of the] banks.

    JAY: And, Tom, there's been a lot of talk recently about a deal being reached between the White House and the banks which included some sort of immunity for people, at least the big banks, and he didn't talk about this deal tonight at all.

    FERGUSON: Well, I believe it's actually with some other members, some other attorneys general, and it's not a deal with the White House. But the White House, I think, was hoping to have that arrangement completed by tonight. They didn't get it. And most everybody that has heard—I mean, we only know what's leaked. What's leaked is not particularly reassuring. It's the suggestion that the banks are basically going to commit crimes and get away with it. I mean—.

    JAY: Anyway, your point here is he doesn't need a new commission. They could just be going after people that broke the law, and by creating the new commission he may be actually holding back state attorney generals that are actually trying to do something.

    FERGUSON: That's right. I think I—here, this one, I think, is not great. I'd also comment on the utter tameness of his proposals on money in politics. You know, stopping insider trading in Congress is—it's a good idea. You need a broadly drawn bill that also hits the staff, and probably maybe spouses, too. But that's not much of a reform, and, you know, he's not really touching the essence of the money in politics problem. He's just basically punted on that one. And, you know, just telling your bundlers that they can't lobby Congress, you know, if you pay attention to the details—I mean, this is why I have a feeling that this actually is a good metaphor for the whole speech. When you start to look at the details, that's almost meaningless. I mean, in effect, your bundlers, who are, after all, electing—when they're doing it for a president, electing a president, just lobbying Congress, you know, banning them from that, tell them they can't talk to the White House and I'd be a little more impressed.

    I mean, in general he's passing up—you know, he—you could do a lot by simply making the Federal Election Commission a serious part of the civil service to get it out from under its ridiculous domination by Congress. I mean, it's not true that just Citizens United is wrecking efforts to contain campaign finance abuses; it's also very much from the enforcement of the FEC, in particular on the sort of secret aspects of money. Those folks could take a much more aggressive position. They have, however, a very special relationship with Congress, and they do, basically, exactly what their congressional leadership in both parties wants. And now we can add the president. You know, he just punted on that one.

    I mean, my summary—you know, there's two—. Paul, I have to tell you, you know, when a guy starts talking about we're going to export American cars in Seoul, well, you know, the car of the year, I was looking in—just happens to be, you know, Hyundai, a Korean car. I mean, I'm glad to see the American motor industry making something of a comeback, but, I mean, I think much of the export promotion stuff is, frankly, delusional and it's not going to happen. And I would fear it's not—I mean, a bunch of—I mean, more than one time in world history, countries that have basically a problem of effective demand, that is to say, they haven't got enough of it—

    JAY: Which means wages are too low and not enough people are working.

    FERGUSON: —yeah, that—yeah, will then instead do a raft of special government programs that has everybody killing each other to get into the special program while they ignore the basic problem. I have a feeling that that's where we're headed here. So, you know, it's—I'm intrigued by some of this, but frankly, I'm underwhelmed.

    JAY: Alright. Thanks very much for joining us, Tom.

    FERGUSON: Only against the Republicans would this look impressive.

    JAY: Yeah, the one-eyed king. Thanks very much for joining us. Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35-Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting