To the Editor:
A letter, an article and an opinion in “Our View” caught my attention.
First, Mr. Boyd’s letter on the Dodd-Frank bill was compelling, but I wish he would forego the histrionic and unnecessary name-calling. Or as the mother of a returning soldier admonished her son: “At dinner tonight, would you please ask for the butter to be passed without describing it.” Using scathing words labeling Pelosi as the ‘Wicked Witch of the West” certainly diminishes the chances of the letter’s persuasiveness.
Reading Mr. Boyd’s critique of the Dodd-Frank bill and his disapproval of specific provisions one wonders, is he suggesting that those deficiencies cancel out the overall good of this bill? Maybe we should repeal it? So, reserving judgment, I was forced to do my own investigation of the pros and cons of this bill and came away with a different conclusion.
This bill is the most comprehensive attempt at financial reform and regulation of the financial markets conceived to ensure that another economic crisis is less likely to occur. In summary, it regulates credit cards, loans and mortgages; provides oversight of Wall Street and credit rating agencies; stops banks from gambling with depositors’ money via risky derivatives, brings hedge funds trading into the light; reforms the Federal Reserve and increases supervision of insurance companies.
The problem with the bill is that it is so huge that anyone can say anything about it to advance their particular agenda and be right. That is just what Mr. Boyd did. The fact is the Bill is 2,319 pages long and reading at 100 pages it would take a person a month to complete. Without benefit of a legislative staff Mr. Boyd and I have to depend on trustworthy summaries.
Scrutiny finds, despite its problems, Dodd-Frank is better than most alternatives, particularly no regulation.
Because it’s been proven time and time again that large financial institutions cannot police themselves. And while there may be real problems with this bill the possible solutions are unlikely to work better or be politically feasible. It is fine to hint of repealing or watering down Dodd-Frank but, those options are not realistic, as long as we have big banks.
Which brings me to a Lakeland Times article, “Smith … Obamacare to drive [health] costs higher.”
The article summarized WDHS Secretary Dennis Smith’s U.S. House testimonies where he voiced dire predictions of budget busting health care cost increases. What proof did he provide to back up his numbers?
Smith said that the state Department of Health Services hasn’t yet completed its financial projections on the impact of the federal law on the state budget (the WDHS hasn’t formally responded to an open records request by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for such projections). Furthermore, he stated the estimated impact was a simple “straightforward” calculation of cost but acknowledged that the state has yet to actually do it. “We’re still building our models.”
What one should keep in mind is this is the same person who minimized the importance of health insurance, espoused outright advocacy against Medicare, Medicaid and Wisconsin’s successful SeniorCare programs, in addition to, ending BadgerCare.
What emerges from an examination of articles and interviews of Smith is a fanatical critique of the very programs he is now in charge of running. And lest we forget this is the same member of Gov. Walker’s cabinet who in August of this year was accused of an affair with Mary Spear, his chief legal counsel, that led to her attempted murder by her husband. A story covered by the Wisconsin State Journal and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. His credibility, character, and his testimony are questionable.
Then there is the “Our View” column whose editor claims to remind people to be ever-vigilant of government no matter who won the most recent election. Oh, if that last part were only true. It is apparent, even to the casual reader, that there is uneven coverage of any news with a political undercurrent. Invariably, one party receives extensive favorable, prominent or preferential front page treatment. Whereas, the other garners honorable mention on the Northwoods Political Digest page, an article buried in the recesses of the paper or a tabloid full page exposé.
Some examples – The wolf hunt was given extensive coverage, but nary a word on Act 168 the misbegotten bill allowing hunting in our state parks (make sure you wear blaze orange and a Kevlar vest on your next nature walk or bird watching excursion). Yet again, The “Sunshine in Government” initiative gets annual exposure by this paper, but the DNR’s proposal to restrict public access to polluter hearings – nada. And what about the DNR’s failure to even prosecute polluters, which receives no play. Where is the full blown news analysis or investigation of Gov. Walker’s quasi-private agency WEDC, the outsourcing experiment gone wrong? An audit highlighted WEDC’s problems, including a lack of basic internal accounting controls tracking $56 million in loans and borrowers falling behind on loan payments that are now worth more than $12 million.
Public-private partnerships like WEDC have been around for more than 20 years but were dropped in several states because they were so problematic. And major issues have occurred in states that were still using them.
Don’t let this paper become a parody of journalism. True journalism is about presenting both sides of a story without judgment or bias.