Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is the American Enterprise Institute also confused?

If you've been even remotely tuned in in these last few years you're aware of the large role of the American Enterprise Institute in Bu$hCo. Certainly the neo-conservatives, like Paul Wolfowitz for instance, tied to AEI have been dialed in deep yet even "scholars" like James Glassman have been named to "diplomatic" positions. Here in Alabama we often get API's Gary Palmer shilling his right wing line using AEI's "research". They are "the tank" he and his are often up to their necks in.

So I was a bit confused to read Ben Evans' Montgomery Advertiser piece titled Experts predict deal on Jefferson County debt today where I find the following:

The panelists said Jefferson County got into the mess in the mid-1990s because local officials who didn't understand Wall Street were lured into exotic financial instruments that were riskier than most people knew. Bond rating agencies and other outside advisers contributed by failing to recognize the potential losses and provide warnings, they said. ...

"The crisis we're facing in municipal bonds is large and could be systemic," (Richard) Ciccarone said, noting that the problem could be compounded by dramatic drops in property values that account for most local governments' tax bases.

R. Christopher Whalen, an investment banker who co-founded an institutional risk consulting firm, said municipalities are now routinely getting involved with complex financial deals that he called "opaque cesspools." He said states should begin putting new limits on the arrangements.

Jefferson is Alabama's most populous county with about 658,000 residents and includes the state's biggest city, Birmingham.

The county got into trouble after it was forced by the courts to undertake a huge upgrade of its sewage system to meet federal water standards and stop raw and partially treated waste from being dumped into streams.

Acting at the suggestion of outside advisers, the county borrowed money for the project on the bond market in a complex and risky series of transactions. When the mortgage crisis hit and banks began tightening up on their lending, the interest rates on the debt ballooned and payments spiraled out of control.

Huh? Are these folks advocating for limits on the marvelous markets? Would regulation be wise policy? Are they admitting the grievous consequences to the broad markets from the GOP's push toward removing "barriers to free enterprise"? I'm not sure how "states" can put limits on investments that are at least national and more likely international yet to have any AEI types openly embracing such as this seems contrary to the Republican rules. That they seem to accept a role for courts is pleasing as I'm used to reading "activist judge" whenever the Judicial branch is referenced.

I know it has to be hard for the right wingers to keep up the charade and surely at times they'll let down their guard. The movement conservatives that make up so much of the modern GOP might not have been as direct as this bunch, even with a likely sympathetic audience. Still, a little honest can go a long ways. I truly think that if they'd just stop lying and posturing then we Progressives could easily meet them somewhere in the middle. But unfortunately the vast majority of "conservatives" I know, read, hear, and/or see just aren't geared that way. John Gunn

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