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Not a lot from SOTU

By Holden Lewis · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Posted: 10 am ET

The president's State of the Union speech didn't mention housing policy or mortgages. Nor did the two Republican responses (which is one more than Democrats get when a Republican is president). But there were some notable comments about regulation.

I was disappointed by President Barack Obama's know-nothing laughter-and-applause line about salmon: "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

LOL! Free market rulez! Government droolz!

If you think about it for about three seconds -- if you use inductive reasoning -- you realize that maybe freshwater salmon fishing is done mostly by recreational fishermen who eat what they catch; whereas most saltwater salmon are caught by industrial fishing boats. Why not regulate them differently? As far as smoked fish -- would you rather have them scrutinized by trained food inspectors, or by game wardens?

Right now, your mortgage is regulated according to what type of institution the lender is -- if it's a federally chartered bank (like Wachovia, which was bought by Wells Fargo to prevent its failure), a savings and loan (like Washington Mutual, which failed), or a nonbank (like Ameriquest, which went out of business in 2007). It's kind of silly to fracture consumer-protection regulations according to the type of institution. Under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, those protections will be consolidated under one agency. But the Republicans act like this commonsense consolidation of regulations came straight from the pages of "Das Kapital."

At least Obama's speech contained humor and a dash of optimism. The Republican response from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was a bummer. In addition to insulting proud, hard-working Americans by telling us that we will be lulled into "lives of complacency and dependency" by a social safety net, he said: "Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked -- and it won't work now." Well, lax regulation didn't lead to wise consumer choices in the mortgage industry, either.

In the Tea Party response, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said, "Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that now tells us which light bulbs to buy..." This was news to me; just a couple of weeks go, I bought a quartz halogen spotlight at Home Depot. Bachmann made me wonder if government goons had raided the store afterward, raking all the precious incandescent bulbs off the shelves. I asked my wife if she had seen incandescent bulbs for sale in recent days, and she said yes. Whew! I guess I can ignore Bachmann.

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4 Comments
Peter Francis
January 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

We should allow people to act on their ideologies - If a Tea Partier or Republican desperately wants a smaller government, then they should be able to check a box and not receive social security (nor pay into the system), choose not to receive Medicare, choose not to pay for roads (but can't drive on our highway system), choose not to pay for the military (so they will be treated differently overseas), etc etc. They "say" they want smaller government, but how many Tea Party voters, voted for Bush 1, 2 and Reagan - who all dramatically grew the size of government? The only fiscally responsible Presidents - and every historian has pointed to the same two - were Clinton and Eisenhower. And the richest 2% - 3% in this country are way better off than they were 25 years ago, so I don't see Big Government (the Democratic version at least) adversely affecting the growth of the country.

David Weaver
January 27, 2011 at 10:21 am

It always amazes me when I read something written by someone who I would imagine I wouldn't agree with, and I find myself saying "that's right" or "I agree." It doesn't happen much because usually somewhere in an article the person shows his/her true colors or personal bias or ignorance, and that destroys the substance of their argument for me. I would think others would agree.
Mr. Lewis's comments about the Tea Party response to the State of the Union is my issue. (I don't see why the Tea Party gets a response, but that is another topic.) Rep. Bachmann's comments about light bulbs was absolutely correct, and there is a federal mandate that incandescent bulbs go away within a specific number of years. I understand that motivation.
The problem is that the replacement bulbs(compact florescent) are made in China (to be cheaper) and they are not safe. They are not easily disposed. And the passage of the supporting bill was severely flawed from the start.
Incandescent bulbs are still available . . . now. But they will not be available in the future, and the federal gov't created yet another product that the Chinese will benefit from.

End the Ponzi Scheme
January 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

Fact check:

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 regulates the sale of lamps to be 30% efficient than a standard incandescent lamp. This efficiency bump is the range of halogen lamps on sale today. The implementation is over 2012-2014 starting with 100W and dropping to 40W over that period.

So of course you would find your quartz halogen on the shelf. You still will even after 2014. What you won't find is a standard non-halogen lamp.

Half the population already doesn't contribute to paying for government operations, which is one step from collecting from the government.

Lax regulation, if consequences were allowed to actually take hold, is fine. You sign for something you can't possibly pay for, you should get thrown out on the street. Too big to fail is a myth, bankruptcy should have been allowed to happen. It would have wiped out a lot of people, it's called risk/reward for a reason.

Rod Crawford
January 27, 2011 at 9:22 am

The only bummer is that we're had generations of politicians humor us and tell us we can have everything we want even when we don't have the finding to pay for it.

Thank goodness the grown ups are here to save us = Paul Ryan.