Plus there's also this about Summers:When he served as Treasury chief under Clinton, Summers helped clinch the law that revoked the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment banking activities from those of commercial, deposit-taking institutions.
That opened the gate for commercial banks to get involved in riskier financial products, such as the credit default swaps that were at the heart of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
Moveon.org, a liberal group that provided major support to both Obama presidential campaigns, is circulating a petition entitled: "Don't let Larry Summers head the Fed," which accuses him of laying the groundwork for the deep U.S. recession.Senate Banking Committee member Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, told Reuters he would find a nomination of Summers "disconcerting."
"Many questions need to be asked and answered related to his philosophy of regulation and deregulation," he said. - Reuters, 7/26/13
So yeah, Summers is a pretty bad choice. So Merkley is doing the right thing and joining the call to get President Obama to instead nominate Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen:.The second thing that I think one has to recognize is present is what I would call the combination of, and here, I'm focusing on something that would seek to answer the question of why is the pattern different in science and engineering, and why is the representation even lower and more problematic in science and engineering than it is in other fields. And here, you can get a fair distance, it seems to me, looking at a relatively simple hypothesis. It does appear that on many, many different human attributes—height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability—there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means—which can be debated—there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally determined. If one supposes, as I think is reasonable, that if one is talking about physicists at a top twenty-five research university, one is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the mean. And perhaps it's not even talking about somebody who is three standard deviations above the mean. But it's talking about people who are three and a half, four standard deviations above the mean in the one in 5,000, one in 10,000 class. Even small differences in the standard deviation will translate into very large differences in the available pool substantially out. I did a very crude calculation, which I'm sure was wrong and certainly was unsubtle, twenty different ways. I looked at the Xie and Shauman paper-looked at the book, rather-looked at the evidence on the sex ratios in the top 5% of twelfth graders. If you look at those-they're all over the map, depends on which test, whether it's math, or science, and so forth, but 50% women, one woman for every two men, would be a high-end estimate from their estimates. From that, you can back out a difference in the implied standard deviations that works out to be about 20%. And from that, you can work out the difference out several standard deviations. If you do that calculation—and I have no reason to think that it couldn't be refined in a hundred ways—you get five to one, at the high end. Now, it's pointed out by one of the papers at this conference that these tests are not a very good measure and are not highly predictive with respect to people's ability to do that. And that's absolutely right. But I don't think that resolves the issue at all. Because if my reading of the data is right—it's something people can argue about—that there are some systematic differences in variability in different populations, then whatever the set of attributes are that are precisely defined to correlate with being an aeronautical engineer at MIT or being a chemist at Berkeley, those are probably different in their standard deviations as well. So my sense is that the unfortunate truth—I would far prefer to believe something else, because it would be easier to address what is surely a serious social problem if something else were true—is that the combination of the high-powered job hypothesis and the differing variances probably explains a fair amount of this problem. - The National Journal, 7/24/13
More below the fold.
A third of the Senate Democrats have signed the letter and that includes Senators Dianne Feinstein (D. CA), Barbara Boxer (D. CA), Angus King (I. ME) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D. IL). You know who else is a big fan of Yellen being the new chairman of the Federal Reserve? Nancy Pelosi:“This prescience speaks to her independence, intellectual rigor, and willingness to challenge conventional wisdom regarding deregulation -- essential traits for a successful Fed chairman,” the senators wrote, while also highlighting her “significant monetary policy experience.”
The letter campaign, led by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, demonstrates the support that Yellen is gaining for the nomination and the struggle that Summers may face in winning Senate confirmation, if nominated.
Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Harkin of Iowa are among the senators who’ve signed the letter. Brown said earlier this week he supported Yellen.“She’s done well as part of the Fed in the last months and months,” Brown, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in an interview on July 23. “She really has been a cool, smart head. To mix metaphors here, she has her hand on the public pulse, I think, better than your traditional Fed governors or presidents, and I think that would matter.” - Bloomberg, 7/26/13
Picking Yellen would make progressives like Merkley happy and President Obama would have another opportunity to make history with Yellen being the first female to head the Federal Reserve. President Obama will have until September to make his decision so we should keep up the pressure to get Obama to choose Yellen. I'm sure Merkley will be one of the top Senators to help apply the pressure.House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that while Lawrence Summers and Janet Yellen, considered two of the frontrunners for chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, are well-qualified candidates, “it would be great to have a woman.”
Yellen is “extremely talented,” the California congresswoman said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.
Pelosi said Yellen and Summers both “understand the responsibility of the Fed chairman” and would be “excellent.” She described Summers as “a patriotic leader in our country, working hard.” - Bloomberg Businessweek, 7/26/13
Since it's Friday, I'll fill you all in on what else Merkley's been up to lately. Merkley also introduced two new pieces of legislation aimed to help middle class families with new home refinancing options:
He's also helping out in the fight to stop domestic surveillance:Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Rebuilding American Homeownership Act to help middle class families by providing new refinancing options for homeowners. The bill would allow underwater homeowners who currently have no option to refinance to lock into a lower interest rate and reduce their monthly payments, putting more cash back in their pockets and increasing their chances of staying in their homes.
Merkley also introduced the Rebuilding Equity Act, which would cover closing costs for underwater homeowners who refinance into shorter-term loans to rebuild their equity more quickly.
The Rebuilding American Homeownership Act would modify HARP in the following ways:
Allow loans that lack a government guarantee to be refinanced through HARP. Direct the GSEs to price for the risk they would be assuming, so that the program has no net cost. Establish an automatic sunset for this program after 24 or 36 months, much like the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation during the Great Depression.
The Rebuilding Equity Act would modify HARP to cover $1,000 in closing costs for underwater homeowners who choose loan terms of 20 years or less to rebuild equity in their homes more quickly. Both CBO and Fannie Mae have estimated that this bill would have no net cost, because it would reduce the severity of financial loss when defaults do occur. - Real Estate Rama, 7/25/13
He's also still fighting Monsanto:In the Senate, Utah’s Mike Lee (a Republican) and Oregon’s Jeff Merkley (a Democrat) brought back the Ending Secret Law Act that they couldn’t pass when FISA was reauthorized. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, both Democrats, introduced legislation to restrict NSA data collection unless the material contained a “demonstrated link to terrorism or espionage.”
At the time, the lack of quick action on those bills suggested that the Snowden story had been a blip. Privacy advocates in Congress now refer to those bills as the first wave, part of a strategy of attrition that will make the current policy politically untenable. - Slate, 7/25/13
The House version of the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act has 38 co-sponsors and the majority of the co-sponsors are Democrats. You can sign the petition to get your Senator to back the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act here:Fortunately for us, we have the support of Sen. Jeff Merkley, who wants to make sure Americans know if the food we consume has been genetically modified or not. Whether you consume fast food or make it to your local farmer’s market every weekend, it is important to know if our food is genetically modified if you want to know. This is what the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act is all about.
Sen. Merkley speaks out against MPA: “That outcome is unfortunate and unacceptable because the content of the policy rider is nothing short of astounding. It allows the unrestricted sale and planting of new variants of genetically modified seeds that a court ruled have not been properly examined for their effect on other farmers, the environment, and human health.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has agreed to back the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act. This is inspiring because most folks find it hard to compete with the millions of corporate dollars that most likely inspired the secret addition. - PolicyMic, 7/22/13
Merkley's also been looking out for homeless veterans:
And he's looking out for the Chetco River:Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced $1.3 million in new funding for Transition Projects Inc., to help homeless veterans and their families find housing and other services to get them back on their feet. This funding comes from the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program within the Veterans Administration (VA).
After noticing that Oregon had only received one SSVF grant in 2011, Senator Merkley’s office convened a meeting of veterans and housing advocates to let them know about the SSVF program and the opportunity for future grant opportunities to help Oregon veterans. In the following years, Oregon grant funding has dramatically increased. In 2012, organizations in Oregon received six grants totaling $2.5 million and Oregon was the second highest awarded state, behind only Florida.
“Too many of our heroes are coming home from overseas tours and are dealing with tremendous challenges getting back into their civilian life. And too many of those heroes end up losing their homes and sleeping in shelters or on the street,” said Merkley. “This grant will help get our veterans secure the help they need to get back on track and a roof over their heads.” - eNews Park Forest, 7/26/13
Lets make sure that we send Merkley back to the Senate next year. You can go here if you want to donate or get involved with his re-election campaign:The Department of the Interior approved a mineral withdrawal today for 17 miles of southwest Oregon’s Chetco River for the next five years.
Public Land Order 7819 withdraws 5,610 acres of National Forest land from mining along the Wild and Scenic Chetco River.
There have been proposals for large-scale gold-mining along the Chetco as recently as 2010. The act follows in the footsteps of a 20 year mineral withdrawal on the Illinois River, another southwest Oregon stream in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness area where environmentalists and miners have regularly clashed.
The mineral withdrawal was at the request of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in aid of the legislation introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR). - Statesman Journal, 7/26/13