Has William Kristol seen the light?

After my long absence from thinkPOP, I return this morning with a take from William Kristol in the NY Times. Anyone that has read thinkPOP knows I usually disagree deeply with Kristol, but this week he seems to have seen the light on a new way forward for conservatives and the GOP, my favorite passage:

I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.

And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism.

If this is the beginning of a new conservative moderation on the political landscape, I for one will welcome it.

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One last hit on Obama the “Socialist”

I’ll ask our readers and commenters one last question on Obama the “socialist.”

It’s not my question, Tom Brokaw asked it on Meet The Press this weekend to John McCain, who had no good answer. 

If Barack Obama were a socialist would Warren Buffet, America’s richest man and uber-capitalist be endorsing him? For those of you prepared with comments like “Obama can pull the wool over anyone eyes.” Well all I can say is no one pulls the wool over Buffet’s eyes and no one separates him from his money.

I don’t think Obama is a socialist and neither does Warren Buffet.

Context, Context, Context!

Two cents on the issue of socialism as it pertains to this campaign and the potential future economy of this country. This notion of “spreading the wealth around” as the platform of Obama’s economic strategy is malarkey. The notion that Obama is a socialist is malarkey. The reason being that this fit-for-scrutiny soundbite extracted by Obama’s critics is of course taken completely out of context from the rest of the “Joe The Plumber” conversation.

Obama has no intention of taking money back to “give it” to anyone. He has no intention of “leveling the playing field” in any sense that a doctor and a plumber would/should earn the same income. The full extent of his economic plan – whether you agree with it or not – is to provide tax breaks to the middle class (95% of the population) and repeal Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest members of our nation. People who can afford it. People who’s livelihoods do not depend on it, nor do their business investments.

Why would I make such a statement? Because these are the same folks who already are shipping jobs overseas and doing everything they can to scrape an extra buck now WHILE they have huge tax cuts. Why should we believe they’ll act any differently if these tax cuts that have hampered the middle class for 8 years are maintained? The wealthiest 1% had 8 years of tax breaks to stimulate the economy and have done nothing. The Obama tax plan doesn’t give these wealthy people’s money back to citizens -everyone still has to earn their way up. It invests money back into federal programs that are vital to the survival of our nation. We can’t have a strong military with no funding. We can’t protect our borders with no funding. We can’t increase the quality of our education under NCLB with no funding. And we can’t expect the middle and lower classes to carry this burden when these people can’t even afford to keep their homes.

If you think this is going to level anyone – especially when you consider that the wealthiest of our citizens make more than the lower half of our populations earnings COMBINED – it’s ludicrous. I don’t like taxes, no one does. I would certainly consider myself a fiscal conservative. But we can’t have it both ways. And we can’t keep comparing our business tax rates to other nations, like Ireland – who Senator McCain loves to  mention. I’m sorry, but when was the last time the Irish were an economic superpower? We’re supposed to be the richest nation on Earth. We have one of the most complex national infrastructures and economies (both of which are in the crapper right now). Of course our tax rates are higher. And seeing how the dollar is performing, it’s even less of a surprise.

So, love Obama’s tax plan or hate it, but it’s not socialism. It’s not horribly unfair. And I should only wish I was in a position of wealth great enough to bitch about it.

Which leads me to my PS…

PS: Why are so many people who will benefit most from Obama’s tax cuts so bent out of shape? No one’s stopping them from achieving the American dream. If anything, they’re getting a boost up to/from the middle and then they can make the push up to the top with the same American elbow grease that got our parents’ and grandparents’ generations up there.

I’m so spent by this election…and I haven’t even been taxed yet.

Markets slide because of….you know reality.

My man Jarvis found a quote from a stock broker worried that and Obama election will bring economic Armageddon. Jarvis extrapolates from this quote that the markets are scared of an Obama win, hence their drop. I would like to offer an opposing theory: reality. Let’s take a look at some possible factors in the US stock slide:

1. Major financial institutions investing trillions of dollars in assets that were massively over valued.

2. Banks, fearful of misvalued assets, have stopped lending to each other commonly known as the “credit crunch.”

3. Treasury and Fed actions to correct the situation have been historic, but have failed thus far to thaw the markets-

  • The Fed Finances JP Morgan Purchase of Bear Stearns
  • Fed and Treasury team up to finance the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Treasury bails out AIG
  • Treasury lobbies for and recieves from Congress a $700 billion bailout package. 

All of these not mentioning the numerous interest rate cuts and an economic stimulus package, have failed to reverse the negative trends in the US economy. So go ahead and try to deflect blame to the man that hasn’t been elected yet. But the facts on the ground are why the market is falling apart. Find another straw man.

One last thing-seen the banking news lately?

For all this talk of Obama’s supposed socialism, anyone notice that we’re using nearly $1 Trillion of OUR money to sure up private industry, effectively nationalizing the banks? All this being done under a Republican administration? Apparently corporate welfare is A-OK?

Meanwhile…watch the stock market today

Another day on Wall Street will open after global markets take serious hits and worldwide recession is feared. While we look for (and sometimes manufacture) political news (i.e. that crazy lady with the B on her face) there is real pain going on out there.

Dow holding at 370 point drop

At least in the first thirty minutes of trading the Dow dropped more than 400 points but stopped the bleeding and is holding steady for now. It’s still early. Are there more shoes to drop?