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By Tom Blumer | April 7, 2011 | 1:02 AM EDT

Last Friday, in what one would think would be a bombshell story headlined "Foreign Banks Tapped Fed’s Secret Lifeline Most at Crisis Peak," Bloomberg's Bradley Keoun and Craig Torres reported that foreign banks secretly and routinely tapping the Federal Reserve's "discount window" lending program, primarily in 2008 and 2009. Some specifics:

  • "(The) loans protected a lender to local governments in Belgium, a Japanese fishing-cooperative financier and a company part-owned by the Central Bank of Libya."
  • Dexia SA (DEXB), based in Brussels and Paris, borrowed as much as $33.5 billion through its New York branch ..."
  • "Dublin-based Depfa Bank Plc, taken over in 2007 by a German real-estate lender later seized by the German government, drew $24.5 billion."
  • "...foreign banks ... (accounted) for at least 70 percent of the $110.7 billion borrowed during the week in October 2008 when use of the program surged to a record."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke fought for two years to keep the information secret after Bloomberg filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2009. The Bloomberg report quotes Bernanke as claiming in April 2009 that disclosure "might lead market participants to infer weakness."

In the Bloomberg report, Congressman Ron Paul is quoted making a prediction that has sadly been way off the mark:

By Tim Graham | April 6, 2011 | 11:07 PM EDT

In the midst of Republicans insisting on defunding NPR, the network thumbed its nose at the GOP again on Tuesday night's All Things Considered newscast by having a book review offered by hard-left "comedian" and failed radio host Janeane Garofalo. The book she reviewed was Tina Fey's new memoir, titled Bossypants. Garofalo spent most of the review in a rut of self-pity, but this political passage popped out:

Another area of interest to me was Tina's discussion of what happened when she impersonated Sarah Palin on "SNL" and became a target of ill-founded wrath. Regrettably, it's always been easy to marshal cultural hostility toward women, especially in politics, where double standards and misogyny tend to dominate the conversation. Those are my words, not Tina's.

Was Tina Fey the victim of cultural hostility toward women? Or was she the one dishing it out?

By Jack Coleman | April 6, 2011 | 8:09 PM EDT

That's OK, he wasn't planning on any speaking gigs from AARP anyway.

As is his wont, libtalker Ed Schultz revealed his underlying opinion on a specific subject without even being aware he was doing it, this time on senior citizens.

Here's Schultz on his radio show yesterday with his warped take on elders, after initially referring to Republicans' proposed budget plan calling for broad spending cuts over the next decade (audio) --

By Matthew Balan | April 6, 2011 | 7:51 PM EDT

On Tuesday's All Things Considered, NPR's Melissa Block grilled Congressman Joe Walsh, a newly-elected member of the House Tea Party Caucus, on the impasse over the federal budget. Block questioned Rep. Walsh if there was any "middle ground" on the issue, and pressed him with the Democratic caucus's label that the Republicans' budget proposals are "out of whack and unreasonable."

The host led her interview of the Illinois Republican by noting how there was "still no deal. House Republicans holding out for $61 billion in cuts," and then asked, "Is there any middle ground for you?" After Rep. Walsh gave his initial answer, she followed up with the Democrats' talking point: "Democrats, though, say that it's the Republicans who've been intransigent, that the numbers are just out of whack and unreasonable, that you are the side that's not compromising here."

Block forwarded this label of the congressman and his GOP colleagues in her third question, using one of his own quotes to accent her point: "You said in an interview with Time magazine, I came here- meaning to Washington- ready to go to war. The people didn't send me here to compromise. It sounds like you are just as intransigent as you're accusing the Democrats of being."

By Clay Waters | April 6, 2011 | 7:04 PM EDT

New York Times chief economics writer David Leonhardt argued against the deficit-reducing House Republican budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan in his Wednesday front-page Business Day column “A Lopsided Proposal for Medicare.” Instead, Leonhardt called for higher taxes on "affluent Americans"(his reasoning: All wealthy countries do it). It’s one of his favorite arguments for redistributing the wealth.

While admitting the Republican budget was “a daring one in many ways” he faulted it for not reforming Medicare, which he interestingly admits is a “welfare program,” since people generally get more out of it in care than what they paid into the program in taxes. Leonhardt again called for rationing health care in the name of cost control.

A fairer, more fiscally conservative plan would not postpone dealing with Medicare. It would leave in place the cost control measures in the health reform bill and go even further to reward the quality of care rather than the volume. Obviously, these steps would run some risk of restricting good treatments, too. But, remember, we’re facing “an existential threat.” We can’t limit ourselves to solutions without risks.

By Matt Hadro | April 6, 2011 | 6:50 PM EDT

Trashing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) as "Dr. Kevorkian," CNN political contributor Paul Begala condemns the congressman's bold proposal to revamp Medicare in his latest op-ed for If the GOP follows Ryan's plan, "like lemmings," Begala writes that their agenda will end in disaster.

He interprets the plan as nothing less than an attempt "to deny ill and infirm seniors the health care they deserve – while giving oil companies billions in taxpayer subsidies." The "lives and health" of the elderly are now in the hands of the "tender mercies" of the insurance companies. Is this a hint at death panels?

Ryan's plan involves transforming Medicare, which he sees as a fiscally unsustainable program in the long run, into a voluntary system where the elderly are covered by private insurance companies and their premiums are subsidized by the government.

By Scott Whitlock | April 6, 2011 | 6:24 PM EDT

Hardball host Chris Matthews on Wednesday frothed that Republicans who want to defund Planned Parenthood are out to "kill" birth control and are "playing politics with women's health." The MSNBC anchor railed against GOP efforts opposing the organization, speculating, "Why would you get rid of birth control?"

Matthews defended Planned Parenthood, saying the issue isn't abortion, just a group "which I understand to be helpful in terms of women, health screening, poor women especially who wouldn't normally have a good doctor."

Teasing the segment, he piled on: "Why are Republicans playing politics with women's health?" During another preview, Matthews smeared, "The Republicans are not happy with just cutting spending for old people. They want to get rid of birth control help, which baffles me if you're against abortion."


By Ken Shepherd | April 6, 2011 | 6:12 PM EDT

Many liberals in the media honestly believe their views are middle-of-the-road or just plain common sense, not skewed to the left.

An interesting e-mail exchange I had with a Colorado newspaper editor earlier today illustrates that fact.

It all began with an email story tip from NewsBusters fan Shawn Loy, who sent along some correpondence he had had with Alex Miller, the editor of the Summit Daily News of Frisco, Colorado.

Loy had passed along to Miller an op-ed from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) about ending federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

"I thought you might be interested....(includes quotes from former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson," Loy noted before pasting Pence's op-ed.

In reply, Miller wrote back to Loy:


By Kyle Drennen | April 6, 2011 | 6:06 PM EDT

On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, a report on the Republican 2012 budget proposal included a sound bite from Democratic Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who decried the plan and ranted: "Medicare would become little more than a discount card. This plan would literally be a death trap for some seniors."

Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell setup the outrageous quote by simply noting: "Democrats call the Republican plan too severe, saying it would hurt the most vulnerable." After the clip of Schultz, O'Donnell went on to conclude her report without offering any rebuttal to the claim.

By Scott Whitlock | April 6, 2011 | 4:28 PM EDT

Time Magazine senior correspondent Michael Grunwald on Monday lamented the fact that Barack Obama, "a paragon of fiscal responsibility compared to [George W.] Bush," doesn't get accolades for all his successes.

Grunwald's piece, entitled, "The Counterfactual President: Obama Averted Disasters, but Getting Credit Is the Hard Part," sarcastically compared President Obama's record on terrorism with Bush: "Apparently there needs to be a spectacular terrorist attack on U.S. soil during your presidency before you can get credit for preventing another one."

The overall thrust of the article was explaining why, despite all these accomplishments, Obama's actions have not been properly heralded.

By Clay Waters | April 6, 2011 | 2:36 PM EDT

The ambitious, cost-trimming House Republican budget proposal put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan “is not going to become law anytime soon, if ever,” New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes assured us in her Wednesday “news analysis,” “A Conservative Vision, With Bipartisan Risks.” Yet it still “poses huge political risks for Republican candidates for Congress and for the White House in 2012.” A front-page, above-the-fold front-page photo teased the article, with the caption helpfully mentioning that Ryan’s budget “poses huge political risks for Republicans.”

Calmes, whose coverage is quite sympathetic to Obama’s fiscal priorities, especially his expensive “stimulus” package, immediately assured readers the conservative proposal didn’t have a snowball’s chance of becoming law:

The audacious long-term budget path that House Republicans outlined on Tuesday is not going to become law anytime soon, if ever. Senate Democrats and President Obama will see to that.

Even so, the plan rolled out by the Republican majority in the House figures to shake up this year’s already contentious budget debate as well as next year’s presidential politics. By its mix of deep cuts in taxes and domestic spending, and its shrinkage of the American safety net, the plan sets the conservative parameter of the debate over the nation’s budget priorities further to the right than at any time since the modern federal government began taking shape nearly eight decades ago.
By Matthew Sheffield | April 6, 2011 | 1:09 PM EDT

Fox News host Glenn Beck and the news channel announced today that Beck is going to be quitting his show. The following statement was put out to the media:

By Matt Hadro | April 6, 2011 | 12:29 PM EDT

While questioning Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) over the budget battle on Monday's "In the Arena," CNN's Eliot Spitzer switched gears and attacked Republicans for cutting taxes for the rich while cutting benefits for the poor. Spitzer and Chaffetz sparred over the ongoing budget battle and spending cuts, and Spitzer was certainly not lacking in Democrat talking points.

"You are driving the government to bankruptcy and then balancing the budget on the backs of the poor," Spitzer sharply accused the conservative congressman. "I'm saying to you, how do you justify that?"

By Scott Whitlock | April 6, 2011 | 12:22 PM EDT

Not paying U.S. military officers, closed museums and a lack of passports were just some of the potential problems highlighted by Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Wednesday. The ABC reporter discussed a possible government shutdown and warned that without a deal, "...Troops, including those on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq, may not get their paychecks."

Karl didn't note that a Republican plan rejected by Democrats would fund the government for another week and the military through September. Co-host George Stephanopoulos teased the segment by fretting, "Will your tax refund be delayed? Could American troops on the front lines actually not get paid?"

(Karl did reference this distinction on Tuesday, insisting that the $12 billion in spending cuts the Republicans required were a "steep price" to pay for the continuing resolution.)

By Kyle Drennen | April 6, 2011 | 11:30 AM EDT

In a softball interview with New York Senator Chuck Schumer on NBC's Today on Wednesday, co-host Matt Lauer recited Democratic talking points on the budget fight perfectly: "[For] the Tea Party and others on the far right....does it seem to you, Senator, that this is less about a fiscal debate or an economic policy debate and they are making an ideological stand here?" [Audio available here]

A visibly pleased Schumer excitedly agreed: "That's exactly right, Matt. You've hit the nail on the head.... they have an ideology just to get rid of all government....the Tea Party doesn't represent all of America. In fact, their popularity is rapidly declining and that ought to be a message to Speaker Boehner."

In his question to Schumer, Lauer was dismayed by conservative calls for "no funding for Planned Parenthood, no funding for climate control, public broadcasting."