Friday, September 09, 2011

Bank of America Is Breaking Itself In Half

By tote     Thu Sep 08, 2011   

That's right. BofA will be forming two separate entities. They will also be closing 600 local branches. This news comes on top of the 10,000 job cuts announced just a couple of weeks ago.

According to WCNC of Charlotte, North Carolina [!], (via the huffpo), America's biggest bank will be going back to a Glass-Steagal model with separate commercial and financial wings. This news would bode well, but for two reasons: first, BofA's commercial wing has been in real trouble since the takeover of countrywide and the numerous troubled mortgages on countrywide's books. I smell an excuse to let the financial wing start leveraging again without knowing what the commercial wing is doing, which may not bode well for most of its commerical customers (which I would guess is most of us).

Second, the closing of 600 branches does not bode well for the US jobs market, and is unlikely to do much to improve the decline in BofA's shares either. I don't see any way that this move improves investor confidence in America's largest Bank. This story is still developing, though. I'll have more analysis throughout the day, but for now I wanted to get it out there. More from the intrepid folks at WCNC on some of the internal shakeup:

This announcement comes just days after Bank of America shook up its management ranks on Tuesday, announcing that two key officers will leave and promoting two others to share the chief operating officer role.

Sallie Krawcheck, head of global wealth and investment management, is leaving. A Citigroup veteran, she was hired in late 2009 toward the end of Lewis' tenure.

Joe Price, president of the consumer bank, will also leave. He was the chief financial officer under Lewis.

Moynihan moved him to run the retail bank, Moynihan's old job, in 2010, and Moynihan at the time said the change represented his confidence in Price.

David Darnell, a longtime Bank of America veteran who was elevated to the top ranks by Lewis, will become co-chief operating officer.

He will share the newly created position with Tom Montag, who joined Bank of America when it bought his employer, Merrill Lynch, at the start of 2009

If BofA was on deathwatch already, I don't see how this does anything but decrease their chances, but I'm more interested in what you think!

8:34 AM PT: The link seems to have gone down. Here's another story from doc2, making slightly milder claims about the division:

8:45 AM PT: h/t jimstaro, apparently BofA is vehemently denying that anything has changed (short of the shakeups and previously announced 10% of branches closing, with the attendant 10,000 estimated jobs)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The GOP War On Voting Is In Full Swing

News Corpse   Media Watch   Sat Sep 03, 2011

Rolling Stone just published an enlightening, albeit disturbing, article detailing the coordinated effort on the part of the Republican Party to roll back voting rights for millions of Americans. With the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], the billionaire Koch brothers, and other rightist allies, the GOP has already succeeded in passing legislation that inhibits and/or prohibits voting by students, seniors, minorities, and the poor.

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News Corpse
The Internet's Chronicle Of Media Decay.

Graphic Source:


The article goes into great depth describing the GOP assault on democracy and the potential for disenfranchisement and electoral chaos. Some groups, including the ACLU, are challenging the new laws in court. But if these laws can't be overturned in time for 2012, citizens will need to more aggressively pursue registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns than ever before.

The movement to Block the Vote has become such a critical part of the Republican agenda that they are casting aside the pretense of voter fraud as a justification for their efforts. They were never able to provide evidence of that anyway. Now, Matthew Vadum, a conservative columnist associated with WorldNetDaily, American Spectator, and BigGovernment, wrote an article for the ultra-conservative American Thinker provocatively titled, "Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American." Here's an excerpt:

"Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.  It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote. [...] Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor.  It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money."

When the right is this comfortable openly expressing their hostility toward both democracy and working-class Americans, either the wheels are about to come off that wagon, or we have an epic battle on our hands. It's all out in the open now. The conservative view is one that would permit only landowners (and preferably just the male, white ones) to vote. Any American that does not represent the elite class is somehow invested in the nation's ruin and is only concerned with narrow, self-interests. And of course, the rich are never so selfish. They never vote for their own interests. All they want is what's best for everyone, even the little people who shouldn't be allowed to vote. Whatever would we do without these benevolent guardians of virtue watching over us and voting on our behalf?

It's hard to imagine a more repulsive philosophy. These are the same people that align themselves with the Founding Fathers and a return to Constitutional rule. These are the same people that have deceived a small, gullible segment of the electorate, that calls itself the Tea Party, and has manipulated theme into advocating policies that are harmful to themselves. And these are the same people who now want to take away the most fundamental right of every American - the right to vote.

Whatever we do, we cannot permit this cynical agenda to succeed. This is a fight that will determine the outcome of every other fight we undertake. It is imperative that real patriots commit themselves to ensuring that everyone who wants to vote has an opportunity to do so. The more people who participate in the electoral process, the more representative our political institutions will be. And it's about time that they represent the people and not corporations and wealthy special interests.

Some additional resources:
People for the American Way


Sunday, September 04, 2011

What Obama Has Accomplished

  I am not as die hard of a supporter of President Obama as I was when he first ran office because I think that his administration has basically thrown many of us under the bus when it comes to helping us with a real jobs program, and for letting those crooks who run the banks and Wall Street get a free ride at the tax payers expense for ruining our economy and getting no jail/prison time. Hiring some of these crooks after winning the White House did not help to instill any confidence in Obama either.

   That being said, one has to give the man some credit for a few things that have been done to help some of the less fortunate in America, and the following is a list of those. I note that I believe that some of these were a waste of money and that the cash could have been spent better on other issues.

Crossposted from the PeoplesView

The accomplishments of the first two years of the Obama Administration:

On reducing and assisting people that have become victims of the increased poverty made worse by economic crisis

1) A $20 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.
2) A
$1 billion in funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) that is intended to revitalize low-income communities via "Job training and placement assistance", "Financial literacy programs", et al, to helping families become self-sufficient.
3) A
$2 billion in new Neighborhood Stabilization Funds that will allow ailing neighborhoods be kept maintained.
4) A
$1.5 billion in Homelessness Prevention Funds to keep people in their homes and prevent homelessness.
5) A
$5 billion increase for the Weatherization Assistance Program to help low income families save on their residential energy expenditures by making their homes more energy efficient.
6) A
$4 Billion program, The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,  "authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children."
7) As part of the HCR bill,
subsidies will be available to the uninsured and families with income between the 133 percent and 400 percent of poverty level($14,404 for individuals and $29,326 for a family of four).
8) Estabilished Open Doors
to end the 640,000 men, women and children who are homeless in America by 2020.
Increased the amount of federal Pell Grant awards so that funds are available to those with less access to have opportunity.
10) Provided
$510 Million for the rehabilitation of Native American housing.
Expanded eligibility for Medicaid to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,400 per year for an individual).
Providing assistance to low-income workers through the Earned Income Tax Credit giving millions of working families the break they need.
13) Education being the way out of Poverty,
kicked off the "Race to the Top", a $4.3 billion program, that rewards via grants to States that meet a few key benchmarks for reform, and states that outperform the rest.

On Health Care Reform:

1)  Coverage can’t be denied to children with pre-existing conditions.
2)  Adults up to age 26
can stay on their parents’ health plans.
Free preventive care.
Rescinding coverage is now illegal.
5)  Eliminating
lifetime limits on insurance coverage.
6)  Restricting
annual limits on insurance coverage.
7)  More
options to appeal coverage decisions.
$5 billion in immediate federal support to affordable Coverage for the Uninsured with Pre-existing Conditions.
$10 billion investment in Community Health Centers.
10) Create
immediate access to re-insurance for employer health plans providing coverage for early retirees.
Made an $80 billion dealwith the pharmaceutical industry to contribute to cut prescription drug costs for the nation’s seniors reduce the size of the "donut hole" in the Medicare (Part D) Drug Benefit.
Provides a $250 rebate to 750,000 Medicare Beneficiaries who reach the Part D coverage gap in 2010. As of March 22, 2011, 3.8 million beneficiaries had received a $250 check to close the coverage gap, according to an HHS report.
13) Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will get tax credits covering up to
35% of employee premiums effective 2011 and a 50% tax credit effective 2013.
14) Creates
a state option to provide Medicaid coverage to childless adults with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level. By 2014, States are required to provide this coverage.
15) Provides a
10% Medicare bonus payment for primary care services and also a 10% Medicare bonus payment to general surgeons practicing in health professional shortage areas.
16) Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) requires that
insurance companies spend at least 80 to 85 percent of the proportion of the premium dollars on clinical services. As an example, WellPoint's Anthem Blue Cross unit in California has reduced its proposed rate increase.

On Jobs and the Economy:

1)  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has worked. The Economy Has Been Growing - take a look at the graph of GDP growth between 2007 thru 2010.
2)  The $787 billion economic stimulus package has created or saved nearly
2 million jobs slowing the bleeding
3)  Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 that extended Unemployment benefits up to 20 weeks and more.
Provided $14.7 billion in small business loans increasing minority access to capital.
The $26 billion aid to states package preventing large-scale layoffs of teachers and public employees.
6) As of March 31, 2011, created
1.8 million Private sector jobs since Jan 2010.
7) US auto industry rescue plan
saved at least 1 million jobs
8) Helpedmake the Auto Industry start making huge profits again with Ford sales up 19% over last year. GM up 11%. Chrysler up a whopping 31%.
9) Jobs for Main Street Act (2010)injected $27.5 Billion for Highways, $8.4 Billion for Transit into the country’s transportation system to create jobs and spur economic activity.
10) A
$33 Billion Jobs Packagethat will allow Small businesses to get $5,000 tax credit for new hires.
11) A $26 billion State Aid Package Jobs Bill saving
300,000 teachers and public workers jobs from unemployment.
12) As part of the 2010 tax extension,
Unemployment Insurance was extended to 7 million Americans who would have been without income.

On Banking and Financial Reform

1)  Signed a sweeping bank-reform bill (the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act)into law
2)  Managed the
$700 Billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that Banks have repaid more than 100% of TARP funds ($251 of the $245 banks owed) as of March 2011 exceeding the original investment by $6 billion.
3) Cuts Salaries of
65 Bailout Executives
4) Closed offshore tax safe havens, tax credit loopholes on companies that use the tax laws to ship American Jobs oversees. HR 4213.
5) Signed into law
the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act to fight fraud in the use of TARP and recovery funds, and to increase accountability for corporate and mortgage frauds.
6) Signed the
Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act

On Education

1) Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010 that increased the amount of federal Pell Grant awards and enabled the stripping of banks privileges as intermediaries for student loan servicing saving the US government about $68 billion dollars over 11 years.
2) Created
the Race to the Top Fund, a $4.35 billion program to reward States that submit the best proposals for change.
3) As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,
funded over$100 Billion for reforms to strengthen Elementary and Secondary education, early learning programs, college affordability and improve access to higher education, and to close the achievement gap.

On Energy

1) Implemented renewable fuels mandate of 36 billion gallons by 2022, four times what we currently consume.
2) Automakers will be required to meet a fleet-wide average of
New Gas Mileage Standards at 35.5 MPH by 2016.
3) A
$60 billion investment in renewable and clean energy.
4) developed
a Biofuels Roadmap to determine the next steps in growing an advanced biofuels economy to meet the goal to use at least 36 billion gallons of bio-based transportation fuels by 2022 helping create more green energy jobs.
5) established
EPA regulations which require large U.S. ships to cut soot emissions by 85 percent.
6) pledged via the
Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future that in a decade from now to cut our oil dependency by one-third, and put America's energy future by producing more oil at home and reducing our dependence on oil by leveraging cleaner, alternative fuels and greater efficiency.

On Housing

1) $275 billion dollar housing plan - $75 billion dollars to prevent at-risk mortgage debtors already fallen victim to foreclosures and $200 billion to bring about confidence to offer affordable mortgages and to stability the housing market.
2) Established "
Opening Doors" to end the homelessness of 640,000 men, women, and children in the United States in 10 years.
3) Provided
$510 Million for the rehabilitation of Native American housing.
4) Provided
$2 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization Program to rehab, resell, or demolish in order to stabilize neighborhoods.
5) Provided
$5 billion for Weatherization Assistance Program for low income families to weatherize 1 million homes per year for the next decade.
Provided grants to encourage states and localities to take the first steps in implementing new building codes that prioritize energy efficiency.

On Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security

1) giving $250 economic stimulus check to 55 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients in 2009.
2) Cutting prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients by
50% and began eliminating the plan’s gap (“donut hole”) in coverage.
3) Passing as part of
H.R.3962 (Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010) a $6.4 billion measurereversing a 21 percent cut in physician payments that would have started a flood of rejections by some doctors of seniors covered by Medicare.
4) Expanded eligibility
for Medicaid to all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,400 per year for an individual).
5) Committed to ensuring that
Social Security Budget Will Not Be Cut nor would change the retirement age.

On Military Veterans and Families

1) A $112.8 billion VA budget, an increase of 15.5 percent over 2009, the largest percentage increase for VA requested by a president in more than 30 years.
2) Implemented a
strategic planto increase the hiring of Veterans and Military spouses throughout the Federal civil service.
3) Provided for
the expenses of families of to be at Dover AFB when fallen soldiers arrive.
4) Passed
the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009 increasing the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans.
5) Declared the end of the war in Iraqi
bringing back nearly 100,000 U.S. troops home to their families.
6) Donated
250K of Nobel prize money to Fisher House, a group that helps provide housing for families of patients receiving medical care at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers
7) Ended
media blackout on war casualties; giving access to the return home of a dead US soldier for the first time since an 18-year ban on coverage was lifted.
8) Create a '
Green Vet Initiative' to promote environmental jobs for veterans
9) Signed into law
the 2009 Military Spouses Residency Relief Act, that will allow military spouses to claim residency in the same state as their sponsor and retain that residency as long as the service member is in the military, in the process avoiding the states where they currently reside from taxing their earned income.
10) Signed the Caregivers and Veterans
Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010

On LBGTQ issues

1) Extended  benefitsto same-sex partners of federal employees
Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
3) Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to
allow LGBT visitation rights.
Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation's largest employer)
Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act and while more funding is needed per the 2012 proposed budget, an increase of $80 million to domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs committed
6) Extended the Family and Medical Leave Act
to cover Gay employees taking unpaid leave to care for their children of same-sex partners
7) Lifted the
HIV Entry Ban.
8) Implemented
HUD Policies that Would Ban Discrimination Based On Gender Identity
9) Appointed
the first ever transgender DNC member
10) Named open transgender appointees (the first President ever to do so)
11) Eliminated the
discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept LGBT relationships from being counted
12) Extended domestic violence protections to LGBT victims
13) Repealedthe Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) Discriminatory law.
Declared DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) unconstitutional and stopped Defending In Court
Endorsed a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of gays and lesbians around the world in an efforts to make it a worldwide policy.

Tax deal extending Bush's tax cut for two years which often gets criticized will do the following:

Damn it, the TAX DEAL is not PERMANENT

1) Keep $3,000 in tax savingsannually
Unemployment Benefit for 7,000,000 Americans worth $56 Billion.
$2,500 in tax savings to help pay for college tuition and other expenses
4) A $2,000 payroll tax savings to someone making $100,000 or a $1,000 payroll tax savings at
a 2% employee-side payroll tax cut for over 155 million workers
Child tax credit of $1,000 per child with the $3,000 maximum credit threshold.
Earned Income Tax Credit that will give on an average $600 in additional assistance to families with 3 or more children
A 65 percent tax credit to help cover the cost of COBRA for those who lost their jobs in the recession  
forecast to creating approximately 1.6 million jobs  increasing the GDP for 2011
9) extended the credit for adoption-related expenses that reduces families tax bill up to $13,170 in 2011 through 2012
with a maximum of $12,170 in credit.

Other Notables

1) signed the Health Package For 9/11 Responders bill that puts $4.3 billion into a fund to assist folks that are suffering from problems caused by breathed-in dust and debris during the 9/11 clean up.
2) signed into law a sweeping
Food Safety Act bill that contains 18 major changes to food safety laws.
3) made an excellent choice selecting a new Chief of Staff, William Daley, who Eric London has made a super case for why it was
a smart choice.
4) made a
$78 billion spending cut to the U.S. military and defense department budget, including reducing the size of the Army and Marine Corps.
5) signed in to law
the START Treaty with Russia, a sweeping new arms reduction pact that will reduce the stockpile nuclear weapons in both countries adding new verification plan.
6) The passage of
the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act enabling the rights of workers to sue employers over wage discrimination claims.
7) The expansion of
SCHIP health-care program for children worth $33 Billion.
8) The declaration of two million more acres of wilderness in one of the most omnibus
Public Lands bill.
9) Government Transparency as noted by
Common Cause, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters and U.S. PIRG-- "The cumulative effect of the Administration's actions has been to adopt the strongest and most comprehensive lobbying, ethics and transparency rules and policies ever established by an Administration to govern its own activities". You can read full report in all of the seven areas the report is graded.
10) signed
the Tribal Law and Order Act -- an important step to help the Federal Government better address the unique public safety challenges that confront tribal communities.

Originally posted here.

Originally posted to ThisIsMyTime on Fri Sep 02, 2011
Also republished by The Yes We Can Pragmatists and Progressive Messaging.