March 27, 2011

Lizzie Warren’s Untouchable Fiefdom

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:01 am

In a Saturday editorial, The Wall Street Journal lays out the truth about Elizabeth Warren and her “Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (bolds are mine):

The Incredible Ms. Warren
The White House aide does a weak-little-regulator routine.

The unofficial czar of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren, told Congress last week that her organization is “the most constrained and the most accountable agency in government,” and then repeated similar claims on CNBC Tuesday. If nothing else, you have to admire her nerve.

Let’s start with that “most accountable” howler. The bureau is part of the Federal Reserve System, but the Dodd-Frank law that created it explicitly says that Fed Governors can’t “intervene” in the bureau’s functioning, “appoint, direct or remove any officer or employee” or “merge or consolidate the bureau . . . with any division or office of the Board of Governors or the Federal Reserve Banks.” So while the bureau is part of the Fed, it isn’t at all accountable to anyone at the Fed.

No matter, Ms. Warren told Congress, because the bureau is “the only agency whose rules can be overruled, obliterated, wiped out, negated by other agencies.” That’s called exaggerating a small truth to obscure a larger untruth.

It is true that the new Financial Stability Oversight Council can overrule the bureau’s rules if two-thirds of its 10-member board vote to do so. (The bureau director is one of the 10 voting board members.) But the legal and political bar is set very high: A bureau rule may only be overturned if it endangers the “safety and soundness of the United States banking system or the stability of the financial system of the United States.”

How often do you think an Administration’s financial bureaucrats will risk pulling that five-alarm-fire reason for killing a rule? The first time a consumer bureau director leaks to her media retinue that someone in government is trying to “protect the big banks,” her fellow regulators will run for cover.

The reality is that the bureau’s director will set her own budget under the law, with the amount capped at 10% of “the combined earnings of the Federal Reserve System” in fiscal 2011. The Fed must transfer those funds without question to the bureau, which Ms. Warren’s written testimony estimates at “approximately $404 million.”

Our sources say this is a lowball figure because the Federal Reserve System includes the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve regional banks, which would imply a number closer to $539 million. The key point is that Ms. Warren’s budget is not set by Congressional appropriation and cannot be reduced by anyone—though a director can ask Congress to increase it by $200 million per year for five years.

… Everyone knows that Ms. Warren and a handful of state attorneys general are driving … (the mortgage foreclosure document) settlement to punish the banks and reward voters with mortgage principal writedowns, despite profound doubts among bank regulators at the Fed and the Comptroller of the Currency. Ms. Warren’s weak-little-bureau routine is belied by the fact that she is rolling over other regulators even before the bureau is formally up and running.

As to the Bureau’s potential funding level, it seems to me that it might be far larger than the Journal estimated. The base for “10% of earnings” might include all of the interest Ben Bernanke is earning in his quantitative easing campaign. As seen on Page 2 of this CBO report, the Fed remitted an estimated $76 billion to the Treasury Department in fiscal 2010. 10% of that is a very big number for Lizzie Warren’s tidy little kingdom.

Yours truly warned almost a year ago that the “financial reform” bill was a massive power grab. Actually, it’s turning out to be a massive, unaccountable power grab with virtually unlimited funding.

Positivity: Godfather — Baby Joseph’s baptism shows life’s eternal destiny

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:48 am

From St. Louis:

Mar 25, 2011 / 06:11 am

The godfather of Baby Joseph Maraachli, whose fight for life has attracted international attention and support, says the terminally ill boy’s recent baptism was a testimony to the eternal destiny of human life.

“It’s a tremendous testimony to the sanctity of life,” said Jerry Horn, senior vice president of the Catholic pro-life ministry Priests For Life, who was Joseph’s baptismal sponsor. “So many people worked together in concert to bring him here, for a purpose greater than we could anticipate.”

“We were doing what we could to save the life of a child – which is why we do what we do, in the pro-life movement,” Horn reflected. “But God’s plan is eternal, and it goes far beyond ours.”

The 13-month-old boy received the sacrament from a Catholic priest in St. Louis, Missouri on March 18, two days before receiving a tracheotomy on March 21.

Joseph suffers from a rare and usually fatal neurological disorder called Leigh Syndrome. With the help of the Catholic pro-life ministry Priests For Life, he was transferred to a Catholic pediatric hospital in St. Louis, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, on March 13.

Prior to this, the boy was a patient at a hospital in Ontario, Canada, where doctors were planning to remove his feeding and breathing tubes. The doctors’ refusal of care prompted comparisons to the 2005 Terri Schiavo case, and led to an outpouring of support from pro-life advocates.

Jerry Horn discussed Joseph’s baptism with CNA on March 24, shortly after Priests For Life director Fr. Frank Pavone made the news public in a March 22 media release.

Horn spoke with a sense of awe, as he described how a boy who was considered unworthy of medical treatment, was able to receive an initiation into the supernatural life of sanctifying grace.

“In so many ways, God’s plan was greater than ours. The fact that he was baptized into the Church was amazingly significant.” Joseph’s baptism took place around 5 p.m., meaning that it occurred on the vigil of the March 19th feast day of St. Joseph.

“No matter what happens with Baby Joseph from this point forward, he has received the sacrament of baptism,” Horn said.

Dr. Paul Byrne, a pioneering neonatologist with almost five decades of experience, took the initiative to have Baby Joseph baptized. He said the baptism was “one of the most exciting things about taking care of Baby Joseph,” and noted that the same “holds true for all sick babies” who require baptism.

Over the course of several decades, Dr. Byrne has himself baptized many infants who were in danger of death. Catholic teaching holds that anyone, not just a priest, can baptize a child in cases of necessity, as long as water and the traditional Trinitarian formula are used with the correct intention. …

Go here for the rest of the story.