Welcome to the Senior Caucus. Look here for information on upcoming meetings and the issues seniors care about most.

You can also help make the Senior Caucus more effective, please share your comments and ideas freely. Together seniors can lead the way.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Attention: Election of New Officers at our next meeting

At our next meeting of the Senior Caucus, we will hold our election for new officers.

As directed by our bylaws, this year our new officers must live in the northern part of California (to see Bylaws Click here). We will be electing a new Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer.

This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in furthering the interests of seniors. Keep in mind that anyone interested in serving as a caucus officer will need to attend three other meetings a year. These E-Board meetings are held in different parts of the state and last three days.

Feel free to contact me for more information: (310) 536-0093 or CADemSeniorCaucus@gmail.com

I hope to see you there,

Tony Hale
Chair Senior Caucus

Friday, November 14, 2008



Doesn’t this feel good? We have been in the dark days of George Bush for so long it seems strange to have hope once more, and to hold in respect someone we will soon call President Of The United States. President Barack Obama, (doesn’t that sound great?) President Barack Obama will lead on the issues that are important to America’s seniors, but he will need our help.

So it’s time to get back to the work putting the issues of seniors before our elected officials. By raising these issues with our elected officials, we can help bring greater focus to the issues of seniors.

Please join us in these efforts, and together we can make a difference.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Economic Crisis

What did they have to hide?

While Washington legislators were preparing to leave for their Christmas recess in 2000, Republican Senator Phil Gramm, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee in a Republican-controlled Congress, slipped 262 pages of very complex financial deregulation into an omnibus appropriations bill that was ready for passage. If he wanted to get away with something big, this was the time to do it. It was the final lame duck days of the Clinton presidency, and few were ready for a fight—especially over something they did not understand.

It was called the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, and it was clearly not written by Senator Gramm or any other member of Congress. Only lawyers for the movers and shakers of Wall Street could have created such a self-serving contraption. In fact, this legislation passed without hearings or debate and was not likely to have been read by any member of Congress.

What this legislation was meant to do was draw a curtain around a growing sector of our financial system. Behind this curtain, investors, banks, and insurance companies would be able to engage in financial actives unfamiliar to most Americans.

Complex Derivatives was the name given to this new economic component or product, but you may choose to call it by its more common name—gambling! Yes, uncontrolled gambling. Deregulation allowed banks to set up backrooms where high-stake bets could be made. I call them backrooms, the banks call them Structured Investment Vehicles—but, hey, potato potahto. What matters is that inside these Structured Investment Vehicles, all the above parties are free of Federal and State regulations, and they are shielded from the prying eyes of public investors, stockholders, and all the rest of us.

Now some may say, “What people do in the privacy of their own Structured Investment Vehicle is their own business,” but what is happening behind the curtain is affecting all of us. Complex Derivatives are big; more money is invested in this new form of gambling than in all stocks and bonds. Complex Derivatives are behind the subprime mortgage crisis, the 30 billion dollar taxpayer bailout of Bear Stearns, and much much more.

If Nero had a BlackBerry . . .

Remember this is nothing more than gambling—and not investing-in-a-risky-business kind of gambling, this is pathological gambling. Here are some of the recognizable symptoms.

Banks are betting billions of dollars that the subprime mortgages will be paid off. They tell themselves and their investors that these bets can’t lose. Why? Because they have calculated Mark-to-Model Valuation; translated into English, “I know I’m going to win, because I’ve got this formula” and “Wink wink, I’ve also taken out a little insurance on this bet.” Now the banks consider these private bets such sure things, they publicly report the possible payouts as assets. This is like someone placing all their wealth (say $350,000) on number seven on the roulette table, and, while the ball is still spinning around the wheel, they fill out a loan application declaring their possible winnings (over $12 million dollars) as collateral.

Because these bets are being made behind the curtain, we don’t know how many bets and bad loans have been made, or what the true assets or losses of our financial institutions are. What about that insurance? Insurance companies, wanting in on these same sure bets, have been writing insurance policies as fast as they can. But they don’t call them insurance policies; they call them Credit Default Swaps. Why? Because if they called them insurance policies, these transactions would be regulated by State Governments. Unfortunately, many of these Credit Default Swaps are not worth the paper they are printed on, and, over the past few months, we have seen insurance companies begin to fail.

Most despicable are those speculators betting on the fall of America’s economy. This goes far beyond taking long or short positions in the market. For example, they are actually betting on the massive foreclosures of subprime mortgages. John Paulson, through his hedge fund Paulson & Co., added $15 billion dollars in assets last year betting on people losing their homes. His personal take was estimated at $3 billion to $4 billion dollars, and this is believed to be the highest one-year salary in the history of Wall Street. Paulson has also exerted pressure to prevent refinancing of these mortgages because, if these people make their payments and keep their homes, he loses his bet. Will market forces like this huff and puff and blow all the houses down?

What was the best-case scenario the masterminds of Wall Street publicly envisioned for the bulk of the subprime loans? They argued it didn’t matter how bad the loans were because, by the time the mortgage payments increased, the value in the homes would increase. This would allow the borrowers to borrow more, and make their new higher payments. What a vision, America in deeper debt. In effect, selling the American Dream short.

McCain’s Economic Brain

Phil Gramm has played a large role in creating the New Bad Deal for America; in fact, it’s his family business. Wife Wendy Gramm, as a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1983 to 1993, helped develop the trading rules her husband would unleash into law. These new laws formed the Enron business model, and after leaving the commission, Mrs. Gramm was placed on the corporate board of Enron. After doing the bidding of Wall Street in the halls of Congress, former Senator Gramm was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Swiss investment banking giant UBS. Just this month, UBS reported it lost $19 billion dollars betting on subprime and other mortgages.

Phil Gramm is now the chief economic adviser to John McCain. While McCain has admitted he "doesn't really understand economics," Fortune Magazine has described McCain's economic proposals as "vintage Gramm."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Issues that matter to seniors

For our first topic, please share your top ten issues for seniors.

These issues need not be issues that relate only to seniors, nor need they be detailed or highly thought out ideas. Let’s just start talking about the issues that come to mind. This exercise will not be completed in one attempt, and you are welcome to make as many contributions to the topic as you like. Can’t settle on ten? Just send in what you have, and we will start to find out what seniors care about most.

3 ways to contribute your ideas:

1. At the bottom of this post you will find the word comments, click comments and a page will open where you can write your top ten issues.

2. On the right side of this page under the Senior Discussion Group heading, click the link to the CA Dem Senior Caucus Group. When that page opens, click Discussions and add your list of top ten issues there.

3. Or just send an email to CaDemSeniorCaucus@Gmail.com and I will add it to the Senior Discussion Group for you.

However you chose to contribute, I appreciate your participation and hope you will visit our Senior Caucus site again soon.

Thank you,

Tony Hale
Senior Caucus Chair