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Hello

Friday light mishmash ahead.

Edited to change the title.

"The new progressive period has the makings of a generational shift in how Washington operates"

With the Senate’s passage of financial regulation, Congress and the White House have completed 16 months of activity that rival any other since the New Deal in scope or ambition. Like the Reagan Revolution or Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the new progressive period has the makings of a generational shift in how Washington operates.
First came a stimulus bill that, while aimed mainly at ending a deep recession, also set out to remake the nation’s educational system and vastly expand scientific research. Then President Obama signed a health care bill that was the biggest expansion of the safety net in 40 years. And now Congress is in the final stages of a bill that would tighten Wall Street’s rules and probably shrink its profit margins.

If there is a theme to all this, it has been to try to lift economic growth while also reducing income inequality. Growth in the decade that just ended was the slowest in the post-World War II era, while inequality has been rising for most of the last 35 years.

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Alan Brinkley, a historian of the Depression, added: "This is not the New Deal, but it’s a significant series of achievements. And given the difficulty of getting anything done under the gridlock of Congress, it’s pretty surprising."

/// More, and highly, highly recommended

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Jobless rates drop in 34 states and DC

An improvement from March when 16 reported declines

WASHINGTON - Unemployment rates fell in a majority of states last month as improved economic conditions spurred hiring.

The Labor Department said Friday that 34 states and the District of Columbia reported lower jobless rates in April. Six states reported higher rates, while 10 saw unemployment hold steady.

That marked an improvement from March when 16 states and D.C. reported declines in unemployment, 22 states saw increases, and 12 had no change, according to revised figures.

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Gallup's Job Market Index hits positive Double Digits for First time in Over Two Years

Gallup's Job Market Index has been a reliable indicator of the overall state of the job market. The index is a simple one. Gallup conducts random telephone interviews with 1600 adults each day and asks them whether the company they work for is expanding its work force, not changing the size of its workforce, or letting people go. The numbers are reported as a three day rolling average which tends to smooth out any abnormal daily fluctuations.

If 30% say their firm is hiring, 44% say no change, and 20% say they are letting people go, the index is 10 (30-20). Incidentally, I chose these particular numbers because they are the numbers Gallup came out with for today. The previous index a day or two ago was also 10 with a slight fluctuation in the number of people reporting no change.

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Couple of FinReg items:

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WSJ: Wall Street Firms Brace for Seismic Changes

The Senate version of financial regulation hits Wall Street harder than expected, with some analysts estimating it could cut the profits of major financial institutions by roughly 20%.

Critics of a comparable bill that passed the House in December said the Senate version has fewer escape routes and exceptions that leave room for Wall Street firms to work around new restrictions on their riskiest activities.

Adam White, a derivatives analyst at White Knight Research & Trading in Atlanta, said it is "miraculous" that the Senate proposals are "stronger than the House and not weaker."

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Krugman: FinReg bill a qualified win

...not all it should have been, but better than seemed likely not long ago, thanks to a changed climate. Wall Street in general, and Goldman in particular, provided scandals at just the right time. Thank you, Lloyd Blankfein.

What’s good? Resolution authority, which was sorely lacking last year; consumer protection; derivatives traded through clearinghouses; ratings reform, thanks to Al Franken; tighter capital standards for big players, although with too much discretion to regulators.

What’s missing? Hard leverage limits; size caps; not much in the way of restoring Glass-Steagall. If you think that too big to fail is the core problem, it’s disappointing; if you think that shadow banking is the core, as I do, not too bad.

Now, the truth is that we won’t know how good a reform this is until the next crisis (which is very different from health care, where there will be ample opportunities to learn from experience.) And the new system clearly won’t be robust to really bad leadership: once President Palin appoints Ron Paul as Treasury Secretary, all bets are off.

But I still think this counts as a qualified win.

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Elizabeth Warren:

"No bill that deals with big issues is ever perfect, but the Senate’s Wall Street reform package will go a long way toward preventing the kinds of abusive practices that brought our economy to its knees. Getting to this point was a tough slog, and President Obama and Chairman Dodd deserve a lot of credit for producing a strong bill."

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NYT easy-to-follow FinReg guide is here.
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And the president's remarks from yesterday:

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As it's been already covered in dansac's diary the president signed a Presidential Memorandum calling for a first-ever mileage and emissions standards for big rig and work trucks. The presidential memorandum also ordered federal agencies that have already brought out new standards for cars and light trucks for the 2012-2016 model years, to begin work on even stronger rules for 2017 and beyond.

The speech and the signing:


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From the LA Times review of 'The Promise' by Jonathan Alter:

...This wasn't the only time when the supremely controlled — rather icy — chief executive surrendered to justifiable (by Alter's account) anger. When public rage mounted over Wall Street executives' post-bailout bonuses, Obama became impatient with the defense that the payments were necessary to hold key people in place. "Obama later told a friend that the angriest he got as president in his first year was when he heard [CEO Lloyd] Blankfein" justify his compensation by saying "that Goldman [Sachs] was never in danger of collapse. That was flatly untrue," Obama said.

" 'Let me get this straight,' the president said.... 'They're now saying that they deserve big bonuses because they're making money again. But they're making money because they've got government guarantees....

"These guys want to be paid like rock stars when all they're doing is lip-synching capitalism."

/// more

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Glam and fluff and nothing too serious. All photos by AP (unless they're not....)
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President Obama winks as he walks out of the Oval Office before making remarks on financial reform legislation in the Rose Garden at the White House May 20, 2010.
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A vole runs in front of President Obama as he delivers remarks on Wall Street and Financial reform. Believe it or not, there was actually AP story about it.
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The president and Bono discussing development policy in the Oval Office, April 30, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps parades on the South Lawn of the White House, as President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon watch from the reviewing platform, May 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Dylan Entelis)
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President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, hold a bilateral meeting in the Private Dining Room of the White House, May 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, President Calderón and his wife, Mrs. Margarita Zavala, ride a trolley to a tent on the South Lawn of the White House, for the State Dinner reception, May 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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(Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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Monarch butterflies decorate the State Dinner reception tent on the South Lawn of the White House, May 19, 2010, in honor of President Felipe Calderón and his birthplace of Michoacán, Mexico. The Monarch butterfly makes its annual migration from Canada to Michoacán in early spring each year. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
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State Dinner guests: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul Pelosi.
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New York Jets players D'Brickashaw Ferguson (L) and Mark Sanchez.
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Olympic speed skater Shani Davis.

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Chief of Protocol of the United States Capricia Penavic Marshall slips on the steps. Oooops.

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Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela perform at the state dinner.
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And Beyoncé too (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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(Official White House photo by Pete Souza. I wonder if there's any place he can't access...).

Originally posted to blackwaterdog on Fri May 21, 2010 at 03:13 PM PDT.

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