Daily Archive: 05/10/2011

May 10 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 45 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 NATO bombs rock Tripoli, Libya rebels hail advance

by W.G. Dunlop, AFP

37 mins ago

TRIPOLI (AFP) – A NATO bombing blitz, which the alliance insisted was not aimed at Moamer Kadhafi, rocked Tripoli on Tuesday, as rebels in besieged Misrata claimed to be pushing back the Libyan strongman’s forces.

The United Nations, meanwhile, said the offensive launched by Kadhafi’s forces was paralysing the oil-rich nation and causing the population to suffer widespread shortages of essential goods.

Jets screamed in low over the capital in the early hours, carrying out an unusually heavy bombardment that lasted roughly three hours, an AFP correspondent said.

May 10 2011

Graveyard Whistling

The fact of the matter is that most, if not all, of the mega-banks are insolvent.  The paper they base their balance sheets on is suitible mostly for lining litter boxes and wrapping fish and ultimately, when the write downs come, they’re going to shoulder the brunt of it because now that they own over 50% of all assets there’s simply no place else they can steal from.

Yesterday I mentioned the continuing decline in real estate, more from the Wall Street Journal today-

Home values fell 3% in the first quarter and 1.1% in March, according to Zillow, which says prices have fallen 57 consecutive months. CoreLogic (CLGX) this week reported that home prices have fallen for eight months in a row.

The Realtors’ trade group, which measures resales using median prices where half sell for more and half sell for less, says existing-home prices rose in 34 out of 153 metropolitan statistical areas in the first quarter compared to a year ago. The data also shows four double-digit increases – including Buffalo, N.Y., and Burlington, Vt. – and 118 price declines.



NAR also makes it clear that distressed-home sales, which typically command a discount around 20%, continue weighing on prices. In the first quarter, the median existing home price came in at $158,700 nationwide, down 4.6% from a year earlier. Distressed sales made up 39% of the first-quarter’s sales, up from 36% a year ago.



This has some economists pushing back their estimates of when the battered market will see prices strike the long-awaited bottom and begin recovery.

Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, now believes prices won’t hit bottom before next year and expects they will fall by another 7% to 9%.

Paul Dales, a senior U.S. economist with Capital Economics, said prices could fall by as much as 10%, down from his previous forecasts of around 5%.

Others are even more pessimistic. “The real-estate market is dead money until at least 2014,” says Michael Pento, a senior economist with Euro Pacific Capital. “There is just too much supply.”

Banks lied about the value of these mortgages in the prospectuses for the securities they re-sold to investors, exposing them to Trillions of Dollars of Civil Liability and Criminal Fraud charges.

Deutsche Bank Accused Of Massive Mortgage Fraud, Sued for $1 Billion By U.S. Government

Shahien Nasiripour, The Huffington Post

05/ 3/11 04:42 PM ET

The Justice Department is seeking damages three times the amount HUD has already shelled out for defaulted mortgages with allegedly fraudulently-obtained government insurance, plus additional penalties for each mortgage that broke federal rules.

While private investors have thus far faced a long, slow war battling lenders and connected Wall Street firms to buy back toxic mortgages investors claim were sold to them fraudulently, the government’s suit is fairly straightforward. As part of the FHA program MortgageIT participated in, lenders are required to annually certify that they check basic records like borrowers’ incomes, credit history and employment record. The lenders also are required to review loans that quickly default to guard against sloppy lending practices, and act in the government’s best interests because taxpayers are bearing the risks for potentially poor loans.



“These companies repeatedly and brazenly breached the public trust,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. “This lawsuit sends them — and other lenders — the message that they cannot get away with lies and recklessness. They cannot casually assign the prospect of being caught to the cost of doing business.”

Claiming Fraud in A.I.G. Bailout, Whistle-Blower Lawsuit Names 3 Companies

By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH, The New York Times

Published: May 4, 2011

The lawsuit, filed by a pair of veteran political activists from the La Jolla area of San Diego, asserts that A.I.G. and two large banks engaged in a variety of fraudulent and speculative transactions, running up losses well into the billions of dollars. Then the three institutions persuaded the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to bail them out by giving A.I.G. two rescue loans, which were used to unwind hundreds of failed trades.



“To cover losses of those engaged in fraudulent financial transactions is an authority not yet given to the Fed board,” said the plaintiffs, Derek and Nancy Casady, in their complaint, filed in Federal District Court for the Southern District of California.

The lawsuit names A.I.G., Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank as defendants, but not the Fed.

Will "False Claims" Lawsuit Against AIG, Goldman, Deutsche, BofA, SocGen on Fed Funding Lead to New Round of Embarrassing Revelations?

Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The case focuses on allegedly fraudulent representations made by AIG and the various major dealers in the course of obtaining the financing. But the part I find interesting is the Fed’s evident non-compliance with the requirements of this section, particularly the fact that the central bank lent 100% against the face value of the AIG CDOs, between taking out the CDS and then lending the bailout vehicle Maiden Lane III the funds to buy the CDOs. Interestingly, the SIGTARP investigation missed this issue. If this was at all considered, the argument may have been that the AIG equity in MLIII was tantamount to a discount, but the lawsuit argues that notion is bogus. Since AIG was broke, any money for the AIG equity came from the outside (in fairness, it’s a bit more complex, thanks to reserves set aside over the collateral dispute).

The suit argues that the initial loan was made under false premises, since the loan was secured by all assets of AIG, when the assets were already pledged (all the regulated subs have prior claims on them, both to creditors and policy-holders). The understanding, as depicted in various less-than-official accounts, like the Andrew Ross Sorkin Too Big Too Fail, is that the loans were secured by the equity of the subs. Fine in theory, but in practice, that isn’t what the loan document says, and as important (although not argued in the case) is the amount of the loan was based on what AIG needed to stay afloat, not on any effort to find a market value of the assets pledged and discount that.

In addition, the notion that it was acceptable to lend against stock appears to be based on the discount schedule that the Fed posts and revises from time to time as to the types of collateral that are accepted for lending and the various discount rates established for them. But note that schedule is for depositary institutions. The Fed acted as if it could simply lend against the same assets held by non-depositaries, but the language of the germane section does not appear to support that idea.

And then there are Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

Investors count cost to banks of Greek default

By Tracy Alloway, Megan Murphy and David Oakley, Financial Times

Published: May 10 2011 19:17

Financial markets are pricing in the once unthinkable. Worried by the possibility that Greece could restructure its debt, investors are gauging the likely impact on European banks that hold its bonds. Some, it has emerged, could be exposed to billions of euros in losses

The question of who would suffer in the event of a writedown being imposed on Greek bondholders has acquired extra urgency as analysts digest different scenarios should Greece be unable to return to the bond markets next year.



A 50 per cent writedown, or haircut, on the value of Greek bonds, which some commentators believe is a possibility, would cost BNP €1.7bn.

At Dexia, the Franco-Belgian bank, its €3.5bn banking exposure represents a sizeable 39 per cent of the bank’s tangible net asset value, Morgan Stanley estimates. A 50 per cent haircut would lead to the group taking a €1.3bn hit.

Commerzbank of Germany and Société Générale in France are also exposed, both holding about €2bn-€3bn of Greek sovereign debt. In total, non-Greek banks hold 11 per cent of outstanding Greek debt, UBS says, the International Monetary Fund and European nations that took part in last year’s Greek bail-out having similar exposure.



The European Central Bank is estimated to hold 20 per cent through direct purchases of Greek bonds, making it Greece’s second-biggest investor. Widening the central bank’s exposure to take account of its financial liquidity operations paints a starker picture.

JPMorgan analysts estimate that including lending by the ECB to Greek banks raises its notional exposure to nearly €200bn. Using that figure, they calculate the ECB can withstand a haircut of up to 30 per cent before taking losses. “A hypothetical Greek debt restructuring exceeding that haircut would be damaging especially if Ireland followed suit,” JPMorgan says.



For Greek banks, a 50 per cent haircut in a hard restructuring would lead to about €25bn in losses, JPMorgan says, leaving only €4bn of equity to cushion the Hellenic banking system.

It is only a question of when, and not if, there will be another global financial crisis and another leg down in the Greatest Depression.  My bet is that it will come just in time to completely doom Obama’s re-election prospects.

For which he has no one to blame but himself.

May 10 2011

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Eugene Robinson: Now casting: A few good GOP candidates

With the nation transfixed by the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the first GOP presidential debate transpired last week with relatively little notice. For Republicans, that’s the good news.

The bad news is that for those who did pay attention, the debate brought to mind – and I’m just trying to be honest here, folks – the famous bar scene from “Star Wars.” At times the dialogue sounded like a faltering attempt at interplanetary communication. Can anyone seriously imagine Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul or Gary Johnson as president? Will anyone forgive Tim Pawlenty for joining such a motley crew?

Back on Earth, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the elimination of bin Laden was good not only for national security, the interest of justice and the public mood, but for President Obama’s political prospects as well. He’s not unbeatable in 2012, but at the moment you’ve got to like his chances.

Dana Milbank: Muskets in hand, tea party blasts House Republicans

Poor Paul Ryan and John Boehner.

Ryan, chairman of the House budget committee, proposed budget cuts so severe his plan has been described as a suicide note. Boehner, the House speaker, rushed the budget to passage before Republicans grasped the potential fallout from their vote to replace Medicare.

Yet even this was not enough for the tea party.

On Monday morning, tea party leaders from around the country gathered at the National Press Club for a news conference denouncing Boehner and Ryan in terms normally reserved for that most loathsome of creatures, the Democrat.

“Instead of a fighter for U.S. taxpayers, Mr. Boehner has been a surrenderist, if that’s a word,” proclaimed William Temple, chairman of the Tea Party Founding Fathers. “It seems House Speaker John Maynard Boehner and his fellow RINOs – Republicans In Name Only – like to spend other peoples’ money just as much as the Democrats.”

Glen Greenwald: Bin Laden’s Death Doesn’t End His Fear-Mongering Value

On Friday, government officials anonymously claimed that “a rushed examination” of the “trove” of documents and computer files taken from the bin Laden home prove — contrary to the widely held view that he “had been relegated to an inspirational figure with little role in current and future Qaeda operations” — that in fact “the chief of Al Qaeda played a direct role for years in plotting terror attacks.”  Specifically, the Government possesses “a handwritten notebook from February 2010 that discusses tampering with tracks to derail a train on a bridge,” and that led “Obama administration officials on Thursday to issue a warning that Al Qaeda last year had considered attacks on American railroads.”  That, in turn, led to headlines around the country like this one, from The Chicago Sun-Times:

Photobucket

Click on image to enlarge

The reality, as The New York Times noted deep in its article, was that “the information was both dated and vague,” and the official called it merely “aspirational,” acknowledging that “there was no evidence the discussion of rail attacks had moved beyond the conceptual stage”  In other words, these documents contain little more than a vague expression on the part of Al Qaeda to target railroads in major American cities (“focused on striking Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago,” said the Sun-Times):  hardly a surprise and — despite the scary headlines — hardly constituting any sort of substantial, tangible threat.

But no matter.  Even in death, bin Laden continues to serve the valuable role of justifying always-increasing curtailments of liberty and expansions of government power.  From Reuters (h/t Atrios):

Sen. Schumer proposes “no-ride list” for Amtrak trains

Dean Baker: The Big Retailers Versus the Big Banks: It Makes a Big Difference

The battle of the “swipe fees” has been hard to miss the last few weeks. The big banks are spending millions of dollars on TV, radio and Internet ads telling us that the government should not limit the fees that they charge on debit cards transactions. On the other side, a coalition of major retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, has been funding a comparable campaign to stop the bank gouging.

It may seem as though the public has little at stake in this battle between big banks and big retailers, but that is not true. In this case, Wal-Mart is on the side of the angels; small businesses and consumers will win if they prevail. This is an important battle in its own right, but even more important as a lesson in effective politics.

The basic story here should be a policy no-brainer. There are two major debit card networks, Mastercard and Visa, who essentially are the market. Together, they control more than 90 percent of the debit card market.

Robert Weissman: The US Chamber of Commerce in Wonderland

It’s a good rule of thumb: If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the trade association for large corporations — is whipped up about something, there’s probably good reason for the public to strongly back whatever has sent the Chamber into fits.

Well, the Chamber is apoplectic over a modest Obama administration proposed executive order that would require government contractors to reveal all of their campaign-related spending.

This is a case where the rule of thumb works. The proposed executive order would provide important information about campaign spending by large corporations, and work to reduce the likelihood that contracts are provided as payback for campaign expenditures. You can urge the administration to stand up to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by signing the petition here.

The U.S. Chamber is of course no stranger to using exaggerated rhetoric to advance its positions. But its opposition to the Executive Order is astounding even by the standards of the Chamber.

Peter Dreier: How Do Wrong Economic Ideas Become Conventional Wisdom?

The ideas of Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) are making a comeback, in large part due to Glenn Beck, who has touted the libertarian economist and philosopher’s views on his TV show. The essence of Hayek’s views — spelled out in his most well-known book, The Road to Serfdom — is that government stifles freedom and liberty. With a few exceptions, he viewed almost any governmental intervention in economic affairs as a slippery slope toward totalitarian socialism. No wonder that Beck has been hawking Hayek.

Now comes Francis Fukuyama, the neoconservative political scientist, who uses the pages of the New York Times Book Review to hawk his own version of government-bashing. Unfortunately, Fukuyama, who claims to be something of a student of Hayek’s ideas, hasn’t done his homework.

In his review of the new edition of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, published in the Review on Sunday (May 8), Fukuyama off-handedly comments that three of Hayek’s ideas “have become broadly accepted by economists.” But it so happens that economists don’t agree on these three ideas. Moreover, the policy conclusions that Fukuyama draws happen to be untrue.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The Economic Security President: Four Ways to Be “Bold” and “Gutsy” on the Home Front

The post-bin Laden afterglow is fading. Those video clips of his home movies seem like scenes from a reality show, not glimpses of an Existential Threat. It’s the master terrorist as an addled Ozzy Osbourne, minus the Beverly Hills couturiers and groomers. And while a few people might wait for bin Laden to sing Ozzy’s “Iron Man” — “Nobody wants him/He just stares at the world, planning his vengeance” — our attention-deficit nation is getting ready to move on.

Significantly, while the President’s overall approval rating jumped 11 percent after the killing, his economic approval fell and reached a new low: Only 34 percent approved of his handling of the economy, while 55 percent disapproved.

Jonathan Capehart: Jonathan Capehart

Oh, so you thought we were done with all this birther craziness? Ha! Not a chance. On Friday, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) released his birth certificate in a fit of pique and silliness over a newspaper getting his middle name wrong. Well, it was a little bit more involved than that.

Jindal threw his support behind a birther bill currently making its way through the state legislature that would require those who want to run for national office to show proof of U.S. birth in order to be on the Louisiana ballot. Last month, Baton Rouge newspaper the Advocate ran an editorial saying, “Piyush Amrit Jindal is the last man in America who should give his blessing to a birther bill.” Amen to that, since Jindal is the son of two immigrant parents whose journey from India to the United States was chronicled by the Times-Picayune.

But “Amrit” isn’t the governor’s middle name. Ticked off, Jindal released his long-form birth certificate to prove it.

May 10 2011

Et tu, Claire?

Some of the Democrats in Congress are more the enemy of the people than the Republicans. Case in point, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and her unholy alliance with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on a proposed budget bill that would completely destroy Medicare and Medicaid. The bill would cut $7.6 trillion over 10 years by capping federal spending at 20.6 percent of gross domestic product within a decade, down from 24.3 percent now. Achieving that goal would necessitate massive cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

Under the McCaskill-Corker plan, if Congress fails to keep spending under the annual cap, the Office of Management and Budget would make evenly distributed cuts throughout the budget.

If the automatic cuts took place, they would total about $1.3 trillion in Social Security, $856 billion in Medicare and $547 billion in Medicaid reductions over the first nine years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report.

To avoid the automatic across-the-board cuts, lawmakers would probably have to enact policies for Medicare and Medicaid along the lines of what Ryan has outlined, the report said.

snip

Federal spending is projected to grow rapidly in coming years as the Baby Boom generation reaches retirement age, which means the McCaskill-Corker proposal would require dramatic cuts. The reductions would total more than $800 billion in 2022 alone, which would be the equivalent of eliminating the entire Medicare program or the Defense Department.

Spending Caps: Putting Lipstick On A Pig

Hi, I’m Robert Reich. Republicans figure that if they can’t sell the pig they’ll just put lipstick on it and find some suckers who will think it’s something else. That’s the proposal emerging in the Senate from Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and also Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri. It would get the deficit down, not by raising taxes on the rich, but by capping federal spending. That cap would steadily drop over time as it squeezed spending more and more.And if Congress failed to stay under the cap the budget would be automatically cut.

According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the McCaskill/Corker plan would require eight hundred billion dollars of cuts in twenty-twenty-two alone. That’s the equivalent of eliminating Medicare entirely, or the entire Department of Defense. Now, obviously, the Defense Department wouldn’t disappear, so what would go?

We’d have to have giant cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, and much of everything else American’s depend on.

It’s the republican plan with lipstick. It would have exactly the same result as the current Republican plan. But, by disguising it with caps and procedures Republicans can avoid saying what they’re intending to do, destroy Medicare and Medicaid, slash programs for poor and moderate income Americans, and not demand a penny from wealthy Americans.

The McCaskill/Corker spending cap would also make it impossible for government to boost the economy in recessions, which would lead to even higher unemployment, lasting longer.

Other Senate Democrats are showing interest in this lipsticked pig, including West Virginia’s Joe Machin. And not surprisingly, Joe Lieberman is on board.

But don’t be fooled and don’t let anyone else be. McCaskill/Corker is the same republican pig.

[Tell Congress: No Spending Caps That Slash Medicare]

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May 10 2011

On This Day in History May 10

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

May 10 is the 130th day of the year (131st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 235 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1869, the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah, and drive a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads. This made transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time in U.S. history. No longer would western-bound travelers need to take the long and dangerous journey by wagon train, and the West would surely lose some of its wild charm with the new connection to the civilized East.

Since at least 1832, both Eastern and frontier statesmen realized a need to connect the two coasts. It was not until 1853, though, that Congress appropriated funds to survey several routes for the transcontinental railroad. The actual building of the railroad would have to wait even longer, as North-South tensions prevented Congress from reaching an agreement on where the line would begin.

Route

The Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles (1,749 km) of track, starting in Council Bluffs, and continuing across the Missouri River and through Nebraska (Elkhorn, now Omaha, Grand Island, North Platte, Ogallala, Sidney, Nebraska), the Colorado Territory (Julesburg), the Wyoming Territory (Cheyenne, Laramie, Green River, Evanston), the Utah Territory (Ogden, Brigham City, Corinne), and connecting with the Central Pacific at Promontory Summit. The route did not pass through the two biggest cities in the Great American Desert — Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. Feeder lines were built to service the two cities.

The Central Pacific laid 690 miles (1,100 km) of track, starting in Sacramento, California, and continuing over the Sierra Nevada mountains into Nevada. It passed through Newcastle, California and Truckee, California, Reno, Nevada, Wadsworth, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, and Wells, Nevada, before connecting with the Union Pacific line at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory. Later, the western part of the route was extended to the Alameda Terminal in Alameda, California, and shortly thereafter, to the Oakland Long Wharf at Oakland Point in Oakland, California. When the eastern end of the CPRR was extended to Ogden, it ended the short period of a boom town for Promontory. Before the CPRR was completed, developers were building other railroads in Nevada and California to connect to it.

At first, the Union Pacific was not directly connected to the Eastern U.S. rail network. Instead, trains had to be ferried across the Missouri River. In 1873, the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge opened and directly connected the East and West.

Modern-day Interstate 80 closely follows the path of the railroad, with one exception. Between Echo, Utah and Wells, Nevada, Interstate 80 passes through the larger Salt Lake City and passes along the south shore of the Great Salt Lake. The Railroad had blasted and tunneled its way down the Weber River canyon to Ogden and around the north shore of the Great Salt Lake (roughly paralleling modern Interstate 84 and State Route 30). While routing the railroad along the Weber River, Mormon workers signed the Thousand Mile Tree, to commemorate the milestone. A historic marker has been placed there. The portion of the railroad around the north shore of the lake is no longer intact. In 1904, the Lucin Cutoff, a causeway across the center of the Great Salt Lake, shortened the route by approximately 43 miles (69 km), traversing Promontory Point instead of Promontory Summit.

May 10 2011

Six In The Morning

Pakistanis disclose name of CIA operative



By Karin Brulliard and Greg Miller, Tuesday, May 10

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The public outing of the CIA station chief here threatened on Monday to deepen the rift between the United States and Pakistan, with U.S. officials saying they believed the disclosure had been made deliberately by Pakistan’s main spy agency.

If true, the leak would be a sign that Pakistan’s powerful security establishment, far from feeling chastened by the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison city last week, is seeking to demonstrate its leverage over Washington and retaliate for the unilateral U.S. operation.

Less than six months ago, the identity of the previous CIA station chief in Islamabad was also disclosed in an act that U.S. officials blamed on their counterparts in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.

May 10 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for May 9, 2011-

DocuDharma

May 10 2011

The Luck Of Jad Peters

As read by Keith

May 10 2011

Suicide by Political Attack

You cannot make this up:

Paul Ryan’s PAC slams AARP as ‘left-leaning pressure group’

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) political group went on the attack Monday against AARP, calling one of the most powerful lobbies a “left-leaning pressure group.”

   Ryan’s Prosperity PAC sought to push back on attacks by AARP against the House Budget Committee chairman’s 2012 budget, specifically its proposed changes to Medicare.

   “Last week, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a left-leaning pressure group with significant business interests in the insurance industry, launched a national ad campaign that intentionally misleads seniors about the Medicare debate,” wrote Pat Shortridge, a senior adviser to Ryan’s PAC, in an email to supporters.

   Ryan’s Medicare proposal has been a particular point of criticism by Democrats and groups on the left, which say that the Medicare plan would significantly revamp the entitlement program to the detriment of seniors. Democrats have homed in their attacks against that part of the Ryan budget, which has sparked some degree of heartburn among Republicans.

   AARP launched ads last week warning against “harmful cuts” to Medicare and Social Security it said Republicans favored.

History repeating itself from 2005]:

Now some people on the right want you to think of gay marriage and Sunni insurgency. The New York Times this morning reported that the lobbyists who brought you the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” have been contracted to promote the agenda of USA Next, a conservative lobbying group. To build support, USA Next is portraying AARP – which opposes the White House’s pseudo-plan for privatizing Social Security – as some kind of liberal extremist group.

How’d that 2006 election turn out, Mr. Ryan?

“Boner” tells Wall St. Medicare is still on the agenda to raise the debt ceiling:

In a speech to the Economic Club of New York in Midtown Manhattan, the Ohio Republican is set to reiterate to leading financial executives that he believes that reforming Medicare should be part of negotiations in raising the debt ceiling, saying that there needs to be “an honest conversation,” because the program is on an “unsustainable path if changes are not made,” according to sources familiar with the speech. Boehner also is expected to advocate for immediate cuts rather than deficit and debt targets preferred by some Democrats.

After his talk, Boehner will take questions from two prominent Wall Street players at the intersection of Washington power: Peter G. Peterson, the private-equity giant who worked for President Richard Nixon, and Observatory Group CEO Jane Hartley, who worked for President Jimmy Carter….

Boehner’s public insistence that reforming Medicare stay a part of debt ceiling negotiations could reaffirm a concern among Wall Street types that Republicans are driving a hard bargain on the limit and will take the negotiations up to the last minute. Boehner said last week Congress must now cut trillions, not billions….

Friday evening, in a sign of unity after a disjointed week, GOP leadership, along with Ryan and Camp, released a statement saying “everything must be on the table except increasing taxes.”

Freshmen, who voted en masse for the Ryan budget, largely want entitlement reform dealt with.

President Obama needs to stand up to these threats to the social safety nets and let the GOP send itself into political oblivion. I have my doubts that Obama can do this. I will be shocked, I tell you shocked, if he calls them in this. This is no longer 11 dimensional chess. It’s now a game of straight draw poker.  

May 10 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 60 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Rebels drive Kadhafi forces back from Misrata

by Alberto Arce, AFP

16 mins ago

MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – Rebels fighting to oust Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi drove his forces back from around Misrata on Monday and were poised to make another thrust, as NATO said the strongman’s time was running out.

After heavy clashes, the rebels controlled a stretch of coastal road west of Misrata, Libya’s third city which Kadhafi’s forces have laid siege to for more than two months, forcing thousands to flee.

The Red Cross said meanwhile it delivered a shipment of humanitarian aid to the rebel-held western city amid concerns Kadhafi’s forces may have dropped mines into the harbour from helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem.