Tag Archives: Republicans

A Growing Split Within Republicans On Too Big To Fail Banks

By Simon Johnson

An interesting debate is developing within the Republican Party on how to approach the problem of too-big-to-fail financial institutions.

On the one hand, a growing number of influential voices are pushing for measures that would limit the size of megabanks or even push them to become smaller. Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, continues to draw a lot of attention, as does Thomas Hoenig, the former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and now vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And Jon Huntsman planted a strong conservative flag on this issue during his run for the presidency in 2011.

This assessment is now shared much more broadly across the right, as seen in recent opinion pieces by George Will and Peggy Noonan, as well as regular analysis by James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, including on the issue I write about today. See this Holiday 2012 survey, provided by the Dallas Fed, with links to views in favor of and against breaking up the big banks. Continue reading

Is the GOP Still the Party of Business?

By James Kwak

Jonathan Weisman of the Times wrote an article about the reluctance of many Republicans in Congress to extend policies that are traditionally favored by big business (and the Chamber of Commerce), such as infrastructure spending and funding for the Export-Import Bank. This points to a split between the traditional corporate wing of the GOP and the newer, ultra-conservative tax revolt wing.

My guess is that this will blow over and the Republicans will figure out a way to keep big business happy without upsetting the Tea Party too much. But it points out a potential shift among the people who fund the GOP.

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The Republican Plan, III: Comic Relief

(This is a multi-post series on the Republicans’ Roadmap for America’s Future. Part I was on how it slashes Medicare spending. Part II was on how it shifts risk from the government to individuals.)

The Roadmap brings up the issue that there is little price transparency in the health care market. This is the solution:

“The environment resembles what existed in the securities markets before the stock market crash of 1929. Abuse, fraud, and misinformation about the nature of stocks and the rules governing their purchase were rampant. In response, the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] was formed with the main purpose of bringing transparency to the market and restoring consumer confidence.

“With the increasingly rapid transformation of the financial markets and the growing complexity of financial transactions, the private sector began to take a more prominent role in developing accounting guidelines; and eventually the SEC began relying on the private sector to establish the basic standards by which it would be regulated. Since 1973, the SEC has recognized the nongovernment Financial Accounting Standards Board [FASB] as the authoritative standard-setting organization for financial accounting and reporting information. While the SEC has statutory authority to establish such financial standards, it has historically adopted FASB rules. The SEC allows the private sector to establish its own disclosure standards, so long as it demonstrates the ability to fulfill the responsibility in the public interest. The authority to enforce the standards, however, falls solely to the SEC.

“Applying this model to the health care industry will allow all stakeholders to come together, without heavy-handed government intervention, to establish uniform and reliable measures by which to report quality and price information.”

Enron? WorldCom? Self-regulation? FASB, the SEC, and the securities industry are their example?

By James Kwak

The Republican Plan, II: You’re On Your Own

In my previous post on the Roadmap for America’s Future, I discussed how the Republican plan is based on converting Medicare into a voucher program and then slashing the vouchers drastically relative to current Medicare spending projections, leaving seniors without the ability to buy anything close to what they get from Medicare today. In that post, I compared projected Medicare vouchers under the Roadmap to projected Medicare spending under current law. If you assume that, in the Roadmap world, the cost of Medicare-equivalent health insurance will be the same as currently projected Medicare spending, then people will die.

But, Paul Ryan would argue, the Roadmap is going to bring down the cost of health care, so the fact that we’re providing less support won’t matter. Put another way, he might say, Obama’s plan also counts on bringing down the cost of health care, so why can’t I make the same assumption? There are two problems with this argument.

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The Republican Plan, I: People Will Die

So the Republicans have a deficit reduction and a health care plan, all wrapped into one, the “Roadmap for America’s Future.” It’s being pushed by Paul Ryan, in part because he’s the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, in part because he’s good-looking and articulate, in part to provide the party plausible deniability if it flops (like Bobby Jindal a year ago). The CBO says that it will balance the budget and even eliminate the national debt by 2080. Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias have commented on it. Klein says, “I wouldn’t balance the budget in anything like the way Ryan proposes. His solution works by making care less affordable for seniors. . . . But his proposal is among the few I’ve seen that’s willing to propose solutions in proportion to the problem.” Yglesias says “it’s totally unworkable.” But they’re both being much too kind.

Ryan realizes that “the deficit problem is a health-care problem,” which he agreed to in an interview with Klein. That’s good. He realizes that to solve the deficit you have to do something about Medicare. That’s good. He also puts forward a logically coherent conservative position. That’s good in itself and especially refreshing after the Bush era (and the unfunded Medicare prescription drug benefit) and all the recent posturing of the Republicans as defenders of Medicare (Mitch McConnell: “Cutting Medicare is not what Americans want.“) Ryan’s plan is basically to cut Medicare like never imagined before.

But everything else about the plan is such an unmitigated disaster I’m going to devote a whole paragraph at some point to thinking about how to label this plan. It will be a long time before we get there, though, broken into a couple of blog posts, because there are so many problems to go over.

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