SEPTEMBER 15, 2011
BRUCE A. BRENNAN BLOG FROM THE WORLD AND MY MIND
The news as I see it and the views as I want them.
September 15 is … Felt Hat Day
I do own a felt hat but I have a couple made out of beaver skin. I do not wear any of them that often except when I am camping but my youngest son wears fedoras quite often.
President Obama and the Democrats got a small look at the future on Tuesday when Republicans won two special elections for seats in the House of Representatives. One seat, from Nevada, was projected to go /republican; the seat had never been won by a Democrat. The other seat, in New York, to replace Anthony Weiner, the disgraced sexting twitter star, was won by a Republican in an unexpected landslide. The seat had been held by a Democrat for nearly a century but no more.
There was more bad news for President Obama on Tuesday. Bank of America took billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money to remain in business. They apparently needed new management more than money. On the day after President Obama presented his job program to Congress, Bank of America gave the finger to the President, the Congress and the United States citizens when it announced a massive layoff.
As companies closing shop or cutting costs stoke recession fears, the return of mass layoffs may be the U.S. economy's greatest concern.
On the same day that President Barack Obama submitted the American Jobs Act to Congress, his plan to stimulate an ailing labor market, Bank of America announced it will lay off 30,000 employees due to restructuring. That's the largest layoff announcement in the country this year, according to outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
The bank's decision may not be the largest single layoff announcement in recent years -- that distinction belongs to Citigroup's November 2008 slashing of 50,000 jobs -- but in an economy that Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman says has a 50 percent chance of falling back into recession, it's cause for concern. And Bank of America's announcement is only the latest layoffs news. Companies like pharmaceutical giant, Merck and Co., Borders and Cisco Systems Inc. already made large layoff announcements this year. U.S. Postal Service officials said earlier this month that they would slash their workforce by 20 percent.
Even less encouraging, small businesses laid off workers for the third straight month in August, after planned job cuts surged to 66,414 in July, a 16-month high. Still, signs for optimism do exist on the layoffs front, as planned jobs cuts fell by a nearly a quarter in August. If only the country could create some jobs too. Bank of America's announcement that it plans to shed 30,000 jobs doesn't address the bank's most pressing concerns, experts said Monday.
The job cuts come as part of an initiative known as Project New BAC, the first phase of which aims to save $5 billion in annual costs by 2014, the bank announced Monday. But shareholders have been preoccupied in recent months with something other than overhead costs -- namely, the lawsuits from investors and government regulators that potentially threaten the bank with billions in losses. The company's stock price has fallen about 50 percent this year as speculation has swirled that it doesn't have enough capital to defend against losses, despite the bank's persistent statements to the contrary.
But experts say Project New BAC, which also included a shake-up of top management, doesn't address these legal concerns -- and say it may be for naught.
President Obama has a tendency to talk about Warren Buffet in many of his speeches. A few months ago, Warren Buffet came out and invested 5 billion dollars in Bank of America. He used this grand gesture as publicity to show his patriotism. If you had followed his lead and bought B of A stock, you would have enjoyed a quick increase in stock value but that only lasted a few days. The stock is now worth less than the day Mr. Buffet bought it.
Being a major player in the ownership of Bank of America, it seems obvious he would have been involved in this decision. His ownership interest also puts him in a great position to be the white knight that ‘saves’ the company, at a small per centage of the value using his ownership as his down stroke.
I wonder if President Obama is going to lavish Mr. Buffet with praise for his getting involved with Bank of America now?
More trouble for President Obama with his health care law. In what seems to be a continuing theme in legal challenges to the Obama Health Care law, It has once again been held unconstitutional. The United States Supreme Court should cut through the red tape and take the appeal immediately.
The requirement in the national health-care overhaul law that individuals buy health insurance is unconstitutional, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Tuesday in a question that the U.S. Supreme Court is widely expected to settle. The ruling by Judge Christopher C. Conner in Harrisburg was issued in one of more than 30 lawsuits nationwide that have been filed over the 2010 law that is President Barack Obama's signature initiative. It was filed by a Pennsylvania couple who do not have health insurance, but believe they would be subject to the mandate.
Conner, who was appointed to the federal bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush, said the mandate that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014 is an unconstitutional extension of authority granted to the federal government under the Constitution's commerce clause. "The nation undoubtedly faces a health care crisis," Conner said. "Scores of individuals are uninsured and the costs to all citizens are measurable and significant. The federal government, however, is one of limited enumerated powers, and Congress's efforts to remedy the ailing health care and health insurance markets must fit squarely within the boundaries of those powers."
The power to regulate interstate commerce, Conner wrote, does not include the power to dictate a lifetime of buying health insurance. Left standing, such a requirement would effectively sanction Congress's exercise of police power, he wrote.
Just a couple of thoughts I had and you should too or at least think about.
BRUCE A. BRENNAN
DEKALB, IL 60115
VISIT ANY OF THE SITES LISTED FOR REVIEW, RESEARCH, ORDERING MY WRITING PRODUCTS OR TO CONTACT ME.
Go to web sites below to buy books by Bruce A. Brennan. It is still a good time to purchase any of my books. The books are interesting and inexpensive reads. My third book should be available later this year, in late 2011. More information will be forthcoming.
www.ebookmall.com (Do search by my name or book Title)
www.barnesandnoble.com (do a quick search, Title, my name)
www.smashwords.com Do a Title or author search.
Holmes the Ripper
A Revengeful Mix of Short Fiction
"Observe diners arriving at any restaurant and you will see them make a bee-line for the wall-seats. No one ever voluntarily selects a centre table in an open space. Open seating positions are only taken when all the wall-seats are already occupied. This dates back to a primeval feeding practice of avoiding sudden attack during the deep concentration involved in consuming food." - Desmond Morris