1. Set top marginal tax rate to 35% or lower.
The past is the present, isn’t it? It’s the future too
—Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.
Obviously, as a historian, I pay more attention to the past than most people, and I’m also given to crotchety-old-man-style rantings along the lines of “why are people so determined to completely ignore the lessons of the past?” But there are days when I am vindicated. To wit, this article from the New York Times, November 5, 1999, detailing the repeal of significant portions of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933:
I think my favorite part might be this:
The measure, considered by many the most important banking legislation in 66 years, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 90 to 8 and in the House tonight by 362 to 57. The bill will now be sent to the president, who is expected to sign it, aides said. It would become one of the most significant achievements this year by the White House and the Republicans leading the 106th Congress.
”Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,” Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ”This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.”
There’s been a lot of finger-pointing in the past year: the Democrats charge that the Republicans ruined everything with their excessive deregulation; the Republicans fire counter-charges that Bush only inherited this mess from Clinton. I think it’s pretty obvious, though, that Republican or Democrat, a politician is a politician, and most of them voted for the people who bankroll them. The 106th Congress might have been led by Republicans, but not by that large a majority. If 362 members of the House voted for this bill, then that’s a lot of Democrats throwing their weight behind it as well.
Also, isn’t Summers now an advisor to Obama? I’m just sayin’…
And then there are the wonderful bits of prescient nay-saying from the holdouts:
The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation’s financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression.
But consumer groups and civil rights advocates criticized the legislation for being a sop to the nation’s biggest financial institutions. They say that it fails to protect the privacy interests of consumers and community lending standards for the disadvantaged and that it will create more problems than it solves.
The opponents of the measure gloomily predicted that by unshackling banks and enabling them to move more freely into new kinds of financial activities, the new law could lead to an economic crisis down the road when the marketplace is no longer growing briskly.
”I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930’s is true in 2010,” said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota. ”I wasn’t around during the 1930’s or the debate over Glass-Steagall. But I was here in the early 1980’s when it was decided to allow the expansion of savings and loans. We have now decided in the name of modernization to forget the lessons of the past, of safety and of soundness.”
Senator Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota, said that Congress had ”seemed determined to unlearn the lessons from our past mistakes.”
”Scores of banks failed in the Great Depression as a result of unsound banking practices, and their failure only deepened the crisis,” Mr. Wellstone said. ”Glass-Steagall was intended to protect our financial system by insulating commercial banking from other forms of risk. It was one of several stabilizers designed to keep a similar tragedy from recurring. Now Congress is about to repeal that economic stabilizer without putting any comparable safeguard in its place.”
And now, your Moment of Zen:
”The concerns that we will have a meltdown like 1929 are dramatically overblown,” said Senator Bob Kerrey, Democrat of Nebraska.
today’s article sent by a friend in the financial sector who likes to help me make sense of the madness…
Robert Gibbs was a couple minutes late to the daily White House press briefing, and the whiny kids who make up the press corps were furious. And they were getting along so well!
Gibbs was 20 minutes late because he was, you know, talking to the president, but that is no excuse! Someone—Tapper?—opened things by sounding typically annoying and entitled: he doesn’t want “a big showdown” but “it irritates everybody here,” when Gibbs is late. Did you know one reporter was forced to skip lunch? It’s true and also GROW UP.
Stop looking at me like that: I don’t read Gawker, it came up as a headline when I opened Newsgator. You gotta believe me…
The pomposity of this press corps is amazing. You still have a nice job? Still get paid extravagantly to suck at it? Then shaddap. I hate to beat a dead liberal horse, but there’s a bigger “showdown” over Gibbs being tardy than there was over Iraq.
And btw I’m loving Gibbs. Obviously he’s a professional liar just like all press secretaries but he’s a hell of a funny one and he’s great with the zingers.
Thinking about their showdown last Thursday, we took a look at a 12-year-old video clip we have: It shows Jim Cramer, a then-hot-shot hedge fund manager, going full bore as the market’s cheerleader and entertainer. A TV show of his own was clearly in his future. (The clip’s from our Jan. ’97 report Betting on the Market, Joe Nocera, correspondent.)
What I find revealing is the quote from the business owner about halfway through: It’s “demeaning” that her husband is doing physical work, because clearly people with “real” jobs make a living pushing digits around on paper.