11/09/2011 archive

Congression Game of Chicken: Super Committee Insane Tax Proposal

Scarecrow at FDL observed this morning, “Dems discover GOP is nuts. Who knew?” I have no idea what took them so long but I am worried that they will just enable the insanity by going along with INSANE ideas like making the Bush tax cuts permanent for tax increases that will impact on the already tax burdened 99%.

Brian Buetler at TPM thinks that the Super Committee is heading for a catastrophe:

A key member of the Senate Democratic leadership team has openly predicted the panel will gridlock and fail, and placed the blame squarely on Republicans.

As GOP committee members met privately, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen – a Democrat on the panel – told Bloomberg, “You need to close some of these tax loopholes and you need to generate additional revenue. And so that balance is going to be important. We saw the dueling letters just last week. We had a bipartisan group in the House that said, ‘Look, everything is on the table including revenues – tax revenues.’ And within 24 hours you had 33 [Republican] Senators say, ‘no new net tax revenues.'”

Republicans responded with a trial balloon, provided first to Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore. “One positive development on taxes taking shape is a deal that could include limiting tax deductions, perhaps by capping write-offs on charities, state and local taxes, and mortgage interest payments as a percentage of each tax filer’s gross income,” he wrote. “In exchange, Democrats would agree to make the Bush income-tax cuts permanent. This would mean preventing top rates from going to 42% from 35% today, and keeping the capital gains and dividend tax rate at 15%, as opposed to plans to raise them to 23.8% or higher after 2013.”

That “trial balloon” is in now way a “positive development” for the economy or the 99%:

This isn’t offered as a concession Republicans are willing to make in exchange for entitlement cuts – a key Democratic demand. It’s designed as a concession Republicans are willing to make if Democrats will agree to make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent – and thereby throw away an enormous amount of leverage they have over Republicans who are committed to extending them.

Democrats, thus, would be expected to agree to throw in entitlement cuts anyhow , just because. And to underscore the downside, the non-partisan Congressional score keepers would likely score this as a giant budget buster – not the trillion-plus-dollar deficit reducing deal the panel is supposed to be pursuing.

Yes, this is another version of the insanity of the last 30 years that keeps getting a resuscitated like a bad plot in a porn flick. And the Democrats are just realizing that this latest rewrite is INSANE:

A Democratic aide with knowledge of the GOP offer called their ideas “ludicrous”

“This is another effort for them to spin that they are being reasonable, but what they’ve put on the table is so insanely unreasonable that I actually think it moves the ball in the opposite direction,” the aide told NBC News.

“It’s devious, because it looks in some respects reasonable on the surface, but it’s a totally unreasonable proposal.”

According to the aide, in order to raise $300 billion in tax revenue and lower the top individual tax rate to 28 percent, you would need to “decimate all tax expenditures” and increase taxes on capital gains and dividends, something he doubts Republicans would support.

It’s unclear whether the $300 billion would be part of a deficit reduction deal with overall savings north of $2 trillion, or, more likely, a minimum package of $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Aides are split over how lofty of a target to set.

The aide also noted that CBO has reported that making the Bush tax cuts permanent would increase the deficit by $4 trillion in the next 10 years.

The reality check here is that you cannot raise $300 billion dollars in tax revenues and drop the top rate to 28 percent without touching capital gains and dividends. Republicans really want those Bush tax cuts made permanent do badly they are willing to pretend that they are throwing Grover Norquist off the bus. Reality, Grover, while feigning strong disapproval, is most likely praying that this passes.


Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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”.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Stop the Big Bank Payday Predators

While Occupy Wall Street has brought needed attention to inequality and downward social mobility-long ignored by the mainstream media and the political establishment-there are also groups that have been in the trenches for years, struggling day in and day out, doing the tough organizing that is needed if OWS’s vision is to be achieved.

One such group is National People’s Action (NPA), a network of community organizations in cities, towns and rural communities across the country working to advance a national economic and racial justice agenda. NPA-along with unions and community and faith-based groups, and coalitions like The New Bottom Line-has long played a leading role in the fight to hold banks accountable, stop foreclosures, promote housing rights and protect immigrant and workers’ rights, among other vital campaigns.

Frances Fox PrivenThe War Against the Poor

We’ve been at war for decades now-not just in Afghanistan or Iraq, but right here at home. Domestically, it’s been a war against the poor, but if you hadn’t noticed, that’s not surprising. You wouldn’t often have found the casualty figures from this particular conflict in your local newspaper or on the nightly TV news.  Devastating as it’s been, the war against the poor has gone largely unnoticed-until now.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has already made the concentration of wealth at the top of this society a central issue in American politics.  Now, it promises to do something similar when it comes to the realities of poverty in this country.

Amy Goodman: Keystone XL: Ring Around the Rose Garden

More than 10,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., last Sunday with a simple goal: Encircle the White House. They succeeded, just weeks after 1,253 people were arrested in a series of protests at the same spot. These thousands, as well as those arrested, were unified in their opposition to the planned Keystone XL pipeline, intended to run from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast of Texas. A broad, international coalition against the pipeline has formed since President Barack Obama took office, and now the deadline for its approval or rejection is at hand.

Bill McKibben, founder of the global movement against climate change 350.org, told me: “This has become not only the biggest environmental flash point in many, many years, but maybe the issue in recent times in the Obama administration when he’s been most directly confronted by people in the street. In this case, people willing, hopeful, almost dying for him to be the Barack Obama of 2008.”

Kim Knowlton: The Staggering Health Costs of Climate Change

The extreme weather just won’t seem to leave people alone this year.

I’m talking to an arborist to find replacements for beloved lilac bushes and one magnolia tree that just got tall enough to lend some nice summer shade, now snapped off in its prime by last weekend’s wet October snowfall that’s being called “Snowtober” by some.

My sense of humor about the year has worn thin. Neighbors across much of upstate NY and Vermont are still reeling in very serious ways from the flooding and water damage of Irene: farms and fields that were underwater, homes upended, village main streets still mending from cascades of debris and mud, all at a time when the regional and national economy is limping, at best. The preliminary tally of damages from 2011’s weather disasters already “exceed $45 billion”, according to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And we have nearly two months to go.

Adil Shamoo: Bahrain’s Courageous Doctors

The United States continues to ignore the thwarted Arab Spring in Bahrain. Recently, a quasi-military court in the small Gulf state sentenced 20 doctors and nurses to up to 15 years in jail. The charge against them? Treating injured demonstrators opposing the regime.

Doctors and nurses in the Middle East have a long and proud tradition of treating the ill, regardless of the situation. In ninth-century Baghdad, for example, Hunayn ibn Ishaq was the Caliph’s physician. The Caliph asked this physician to prepare a poison to kill his enemies. The physician refused, risking his life, and was eventually jailed for one year. After serving his sentence, the Caliph inquired as to why he refused. The physician replied, “My profession is instituted for the benefit of humanity and limited to their relief and cure.”


Stephen haz them.

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 54

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com


The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet

David Crosby and Graham Nash perform live on ‘Countdown,’ discuss the movement

Musicians David Crosby and Graham Nash discuss their impressions of the Occupy Wall Street movement with Keith. The duo also performs an original song a cappella.

Occupy Wall Street Gets Its Generators Back

Occupy Wall Street got its confiscated generators back on Tuesday after its legal team pressed the Fire Department of New York to release them.

The machines were picked up from the New York City Fire Academy at Randall’s Island by the Wikileaks truck, which has been stationed next to Zuccotti Park since the protest’s inception. The vehicle with the generator on board made its way back to Zuccotti Park hours before a planned concert by Graham Nash and David Crosby.

Yetta Kurland, a lawyer representing the protesters, said the generators did not violate any FDNY code.

NYC protesters erect military tents for winter

NEW YORK-The Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City are preparing for the possibility of a punishing winter by erecting tents designed to withstand frigid temperatures.

Some of the military grade tents are as big as tiny cottages. They began popping up Monday, with the first planned for medics and another designated as a safe space for women.

‘Occupy’ takes over the airwaves

Salon.com’s Justin Eliot and film maker David Savage share their thoughts

on a new 30 second Occupy Wall Street commercial, which began airing Saturday on several major networks describing what the movement desires to accomplish.

The Foreclosure Fraud Saga Continues

Some members of Congress have begun to make noise about the proposed settlement of foreclosure fraud by some state attorney generals that would give immunity to the banks. David Dayen at FDL reports:

Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus, are the latest. It’s pretty hedged, however:

   “We applaud President Obama and the Justice Department for this effort to hold these banks accountable. However, a $25 billion settlement pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars in lost home equity, retirement savings and exploding public debt caused by these institutions,” Grijalva and Ellison said Friday in a joint statement.

   “Instead of immunity for Wall Street banks, let’s stand with the American people and demand a fair deal for homeowners.”

Dayen also makes a couple of salient points about the problems with this settlement and solutions:

The whole gambit just reinforces the randomness of the foreclosure crisis. Borrowers didn’t choose to get a bank-owned loan, or a loan sold to Fannie and Freddie, or a loan securitized and sold as part of a tranche of securities to a pension fund in Norway. But where their loan landed has a direct bearing on their outcomes. Who services their loan, another outcome under which they have no control, also matters. And what state you live in matters. If you’re in Nevada, for example, you may never face foreclosure no matter what your delinquency situation [..]

Just criminalizing the standard law governing foreclosures in Nevada has basically ended foreclosure starts. Lucky for Nevadans – but why are folks in the rest of the country in a different place? For all the talk of moral hazard, there’s nothing moral about the foreclosure process right now. If there were, there may also be something like justice or accountability.

The New York and Maryland Attorney Generals, Eric Schneiderman and Beau Biden lay out their strategy in dealing with what they see as a two pronged man-made mess, the housing market and the mortgage-backed securities market:

These two markets are inextricably linked. Any real effort to repair the damage caused by the collapse of the housing bubble must address the injury in both sectors. Tens of millions of homeowners and millions of investors – including retirees with money in pension and mutual funds – were devastated by this manmade catastrophe.

We recognized early this year that, though many public officials – including state attorneys general, members of Congress and the Obama administration – have delved into aspects of the bubble and crash, we needed a more comprehensive investigation before the financial institutions at the heart of the crisis are granted broad releases from liability.

We undertook such an inquiry, building on the work of many others. And we know time is of the essence. Homeowners and investors are suffering every day, and patterns of abuse and misconduct are continuing. We’re working hard to complete the first – and most critical – phase of our investigation before the end of 2011.

The key to our strategy to root out the conduct that triggered the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression is recognizing that a comprehensive effort requires an attack from both sides – looking at harm both to borrowers and to investors. So we are investigating four distinct, but interdependent, areas of abuse. Only one of those areas is being discussed in the negotiations now under way among the banks, the administration and some of our colleagues.

These determined AG’s explain that they are investigating several areas:

  • misconduct by loan originators;
  • the aggregation, or pooling, of mortgages by major banks.
  • continuing abuses in the servicing of millions of mortgages
  • gross levels of misconduct during this process by a recording system called the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems.
  • They conclude that while their AG colleagues “seek to settle these servicing-related issues, the financial institutions on the other side of the negotiating table have predictably sought releases that are as broad as possible from future liabilities, delaying the process.”

    Biden and Schneiderman state that they support the effort but they are not going to back down on the criminal investigation of securitization, origination and MERS:

    Reforming the servicing of mortgages is crucial. But these servicing abuses did not create the mortgage bubble. Robo-signing did not blow up the U.S. economy. Rather, these are symptoms of a more far-reaching and insidious problem.

    The American people deserve a full investigation and public exposure of the conduct that got us into the economic quagmire we face today. We must ensure that it never happens again. And we must restore public confidence that ours is a nation committed to the goal of equal justice for all.

    Every American deserves due process before their homes are taken form them that is just not happening for far too many. There is no excuse.

    Ohio Voters Reject Senate Bill 5, Obamacare; Mississippi Defeats Anti-Abortion Amendment

    Ohio voters last night voted overwhelmingly against both Republican and Democrat corporate-favoring policies in a referendum.  Senate Bill 5, passed by the Republican-dominated legislature and signed into law by Republican governor John Kasich, was shot down by sixty-one percent, too large a margin for the GOP to rig the vote count in its favor.

    By a reportedly larger margin than Issue 2, Obamacare, the law passed in spring of 2010 in a huge giveaway to the health insurance industry, was voted down at sixty-six percent of the vote, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  However, the constitutional amendment as written would make it extremely difficult to pass meaningful regulations on insurance companies, and pretty much rules out all hope of single-payer health insurance in the Buckeye State.

    In Mississippi, voters shot down the anti-abortion amendment proposed by right-wing extremists.  The bid to declare life as beginning at conception was defeated 58-42%.

    The measure would have bestowed legal rights on fertilized eggs and cut off access to abortion by equating it with murder, making no exception for rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in danger. Medical groups warned it might have criminalized contraception and miscarriages while limiting access to treatments such as in-vitro fertilization.

    The voters of Mississippi are smarter than the far right gives them credit for.  Cheers to them!

    What, however, does the defeat of Issue 2 and the passage of Issue 3 in Ohio mean?  It is incredibly easy for Democrats and Republicans, and their spinmeisters in the corporate-owned media, to speculate as to what it means, and many are doing just that.  But what it all boils down to is that voters are fed up with far right policies that benefit no one but large business interests.  In Massachusetts, for example, according to Physicians for a National Health Program, Romneycare – the insurance giveaway on which Obamacare was modeled – nearly 400,000 people still find health insurance unaffordable, and those people are predominantly the working poor.  Given this realization, it is no wonder voters would rather opt out.

    On a broader scale, Americans are increasingly hostile to far right policies, be they industry bailouts, invasive laws designed to take away women’s reproductive rights, or attempts to restrict voting rights, We the People are starting to fight back against the wave of fascist power grabs.  Only time, though, will tell if it’s not too little, too late.

    Cross-posted from Progressive Independence.

    Drill baby, drill.

    So the International Energy Agency (not exactly a cabal of communists) is out with their new report on Energy Policy and Global Warming.

    The news is grim.  Unless we drastically change direction in the next 5 years there will be climate change on a scale not seen since the Younger Dryas (those who would reject the analogy would be well advised to consider that this “Ice Age” was caused by an influx of fresh glacial water disrupting ocean currents due to… wait for it… Global Warming) 12,000 years ago.

    The burning issue of energy cannot wait for economic good times

    Carbon emissions are rising by record amounts, stoked by political inaction and fossil fuel subsidies. We are almost out of time to douse the climate change crisis

    Damian Carrington, The Guardian

    Wednesday 9 November 2011 05.02 EST

    The IEA predict a temperature rise of 3.5C if current energy policies around the world are delivered but no more. That means a future world of mass migration, severe water shortages and England having the summer climate of Morocco today. If those policies fail to materialise, the IEA predicts 6C. That’s Armageddon: large parts of the planet uninhabitable and the risk of runaway warming threatening the rest.

    With the economies of developed nations stagnant, some are pleading poverty as an excuse for inaction. But, says the IEA, “delaying action is a false economy”. It states that avoiding $1 of energy investment before 2020 will require $4.30 to compensate after that date.

    If money needs to be saved, start with the $409bn gifted to the fossil fuel industry in 2010 in subsidies. The G20 backed this idea in 2009 but has yet to deliver. The subsidies do not enable the impoverished to access energy: just 8% of the subsidies reach the world’s poorest 20% of people. Renewable energy, the only truly sustainable source of power, received just $66bn of support last year, and even the IEA thinks this will rise to no more than $180bn by 2035.

    Fossil Fuels Got Six Times More Aid Than Clean Energy, IEA Says

    By Ben Sills, Bloomberg News

    Nov 9, 2011 5:00 AM ET

    Fossil-fuel consumers worldwide received about six times more state subsidies last year than were given to the renewable-energy industry, according to the chief adviser to oil-importing nations.

    G-20 nations spent $160 billion supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels last year, led by Saudi Arabia’s outlay of $44 billion, the IEA said in its World Energy Outlook published today. Iran spent the most overall, shelling out $81 billion to support fuel sales.

    While governments argue their policies are designed to help the poorest members of society, they generally fail to meet that goal, the IEA said. Just 8 percent of subsidies reached the poorest 20 percent of each country’s population last year.

    “Fossil-fuel subsidies as presently constituted tend to be regressive, disproportionately benefitting higher income groups that can afford higher levels of fuel consumption,” the report said. “Social welfare programs are a more effective and less distortionary way of helping the poor than energy subsidies.”

    World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

    If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change

    Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent, The Guardian

    Wednesday 9 November 2011 05.01 EST

    The world is likely to build so many new fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be “lost for ever”, according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.

    The central problem is that most of the industrial infrastructure already in existence around the world – the fossil-fuelled power stations, the emissions-spewing factories, the inefficient transport and buildings – are already contributing to the current high level of emissions, and will continue to do so for decades to come. Carbon dioxide, once released into the atmosphere, stays there and continues to have a warming effect for about a century, and industrial infrastructure is built to have a useful life of several decades at least.

    Yet, despite intensifying warnings from scientists over the past two decades, the new infrastructure even now being built is constructed along the same lines as the old, which means that there is a “lock-in” effect – high-carbon infrastructure built today or in the next five years will contribute as much to the stock of emissions in the atmosphere as previous generations.

    U.S. to Open New Areas to Offshore Drilling

    By JOHN M. BRODER, The New York Times

    Published: November 8, 2011

    WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Tuesday announced its proposed five-year plan for offshore oil drilling, which calls for opening new areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska but bars development along the East and West Coasts.

    The plan, which is subject to months of public hearings and possible revisions, expands the areas in the Gulf of Mexico that are now under development, including some near Florida that have been off limits. It will also make available broader parts of the Arctic Ocean off the North Slope of Alaska and in the Cook Inlet off the state’s southern shore.

    Environmental advocates responded vehemently to the new plan, which they said put sensitive coastlines, waters and fisheries at risk in Alaska and in the gulf.

    “Last year’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was supposed to be a wake-up call about the dangers of offshore drilling,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But it looks like President Obama hit the snooze button and slept right through it.”

    Several groups pointed out the difficulties of dealing with a potential spill in the Arctic, where the nearest Coast Guard facility is almost 1,000 miles away.

    David J. Hayes, the deputy interior secretary, acknowledged that the infrastructure did not now exist to prevent or respond to a major spill in the Arctic. Mr. Hayes said a response could be compromised by inclement weather, a lack of deep harbors, a shortage of appropriate vessels and inadequate oil transportation resources.

    Frances Beinecke, the president of Natural Resources Defense Council and a member of the panel Mr. Obama named to investigate the BP spill, said approving new drilling without adequate safety measures was a “reckless gamble.”

    “The president’s oil spill commission put forth a game plan to improve the industry’s safety, but it has yet to be realized,” Ms. Beinecke said in a statement. “Congress has failed to pass a single law to better protect workers or the environment. Industry has not invested sufficiently in developing the technologies needed to prevent future disasters. And the government still needs additional resources and science in order to effectively police an industry that so desperately needs it.”

    The Morning After A Night At The Polls

    2011 may be an “off” years for elections but this one was of particular interest as it may forecast some outcomes for 2012. There were a couple of really important ballot initiatives and a recall that would have significant impact for both parties and there was a special disappointment for a first term, rotund, bullying Republican governor.

    First the Ohio, the law restricting the collective bargaining rights of public employees was overturned by Ohio voters with an overwhelming 61% to 39%. Ouch. That must burn for new Republican governor, John Kasich. Many political pundits, left and right, see this a set up for a major political battle in a swing state and a possible resurgence of the Ohio State Democratic Party.

    Ohio voters also approved a proposal to prohibit people from being required to buy health insurance as part of the national healthcare overhaul supported by Obama. The vote was mostly symbolic but Republicans hope to use it as part of a legal challenge.

    On to Mississippi where some legislators wanted to give “personhood” to a 4 celled entity called a zygote. Voters there rejected ballot Initiative 26, which would have defined personhood as beginning at fertilization. With 63% of the vote reporting, the ‘No’ position is leading by a margin of 57%-43%. The proposal, initiated through petitions by pro-life activists, would have outlawed not only abortion but many forms of birth control that can prevent the uterine implantation of a fertilized egg.

    The proposal obviously conflicted with the right to an abortion as decided in the Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade, and if passed could have set up a potential Supreme Court battle to overturn Roe. It was opposed by the state Medical Association and Nurses Association. Even Governor Haley Barbour had his reservations about the proposal, feeling that it went too far and would put unworkable restrictions on fertility clinics and possibly put a woman’s life at risk in the face of an ectopic pregnancy. Congratulations  to Mississippi voters for protecting women.

    In Maine, voters restored same day voting, shooting down the specious argument that it would be open to fraud. They overturned the new state law supported by the state’s new Tea Party-backed Republican governor, Paul LePage, that requires voters to register at least two days before an election.

    The wise voters of Arizona ousted the Senate President and author of the state’s hard-line laws against illegal immigration, Russell Pearce by 53 to 45. Replacing Pearce is Jerry Lewis, a Republican school administrator who has said he opposes Pearce’s enforcement-only approach to immigration policy. The recall is seen as part of a backlash against the immigration policies that gained the state and Pearce national attention. It is also seen as a swing toward more moderate Republicans. Lewis will serve the remainder of Pearce’s term through 2012. He will be required to run again in November of next year if chooses to seek re-election.

    In the two governors races, Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, was re-elected, becoming the second Democrat to win a governorship in 2011. In Mississippi, lieutenant governor, Phil Bryant, appeared poised to keep the governor’s mansion in Republican hands, succeeding term limited, Haley Barbour. Bryant defeated Hattiesburg mayor, Johnny Dupree, the first black major-party nominee for governor in Mississippi, by a vote of 60% to 40%.

    In the Garden State of New Jersey, the voters handed their buying first term governor, Chris Christie, the equivalent of a “no confidence vote” despite low voter turn out. Democrats maintained their 24-16 control over the Senate and added one seat in the Assembly, giving them a 48-32 edge, according to the Associated Press and Star-Ledger. While still not enough to reverse some of Christie’s draconian policies, it is enough to keep him in check and force him to negotiate instead of governing by fiat.

    On This Day In History November 9

    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.

    November 9 is the 313th day of the year (314th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 52 days remaining until the end of the year.

    On this day in 1872, fire rips through Boston. The Great Boston Fire was Boston’s largest urban fire and still one of the most costly fire-related property losses in American history. The conflagration began at 7:20 p.m. on November 9, 1872, in the basement of a commercial warehouse at 83-87 Summer Street in Boston, Massachusetts. The fire was finally contained twelve hours later, after it had consumed about 65 acres of Boston’s downtown, 776 buildings, and much of the financial district and caused $73.5 million in damage. At least twenty people are known to have died in the fire.

    In the aftermath, the city established an entirely new system of firefighting and prevention. The fire also led to the creation of Boston’s financial district.

    The fire began in the basement of a warehouse at the corner of Kingston and Summer streets. At the time, this area of the city contained a mix of residences and light industry. Its buildings and most area roofs were made mainly of wood, allowing the blaze to spread quickly as the wind blew red hot embers from rooftop to rooftop. In addition, as Boston streets were narrow, large flames from one structure could literally leap across them to nearby buildings.

    Firefighting units from Maine to New Haven, Connecticut, arrived to help, but efforts to fight the fire were plagued by difficulties. There was not enough water on hand to get the fire under control; the hydrant system did not work well because much of the equipment was not standardized; and even when firefighters got their hands on an adequate supply of water, the height of the buildings and the narrowness of the streets made it difficult to direct the water at the blaze from the optimum angle. Because a local equine epidemic had struck the city fire department’s horses, it was difficult to get the fire engines to the correct locations at the right times. In addition, some of the efforts were counter-productive. Explosions were used to attempt fire breaks, but this high-risk strategy was not executed with enough precision and served only to further spread the fire.

    The fire was finally stopped at the doors of Fanueil Hall the following morning, but it had already destroyed much of the downtown area. Boston’s officials realized that their fire-prevention efforts had been ineffective and, in the aftermath of the disaster, began to revise and strengthen all of the city’s fire laws and regulations. An inspection system was instituted and the local fire departments began to coordinate their efforts.