On the heels of the divisive health care debate, now comes proposed financial reform. I know it sounds boring, but it is important to your life, so let me break it down in terms that even I can understand.
Most Americans understand that the current vicious recession was caused in part by greedy Wall Street companies that trafficked in bad mortgage deals. That is they irresponsibly lent money in hopes of getting high interest payments back. As we all know, that caused Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions to collapse, and the economy went down with them.
Most Americans got hurt, some big time.
So now President Obama wants to regulate the financial industry. There are three big things the Democrats are trying to pass into law.
No. 1: Big financial companies would have to tell the feds about their investments. As the guy said in the movie "Jerry Maguire," show me the money. That way the feds can see if risky investments are being made.
No. 2: A new federal agency would be created to discipline private companies if the feds think they are not acting responsibly.
And No. 3: A $50 billion fund would be set up so the government could liquidate failing private financial companies. The feds would ask a bankruptcy court to make the call.
Most Republicans hate that. They don't want the federal government controlling the financial industry, and they don't want federal funds used to pay the debts of irresponsible companies.
"Talking Points" believes that new federal laws are needed to punish financial companies that take our money and invest it fraudulently. But we also do not want a $50 billion slush fund because it's not necessary. If new laws are passed, the feds can simply suspend a company's right to do financial business with a court's approval.
There is no question that President Obama and most Democrats believe the federal government must right wrongs in this country, while the GOP wants less of that, allowing the private sector to sort it out.
Thus, financial reform is the new health care. Let the battle begin.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Tuesday night I attended a fundraiser for the New York City Police Museum, which honors the 800 city cops killed in the line of duty. The museum is a great place, especially for kids to learn about the sacrifices noble officers have made to keep this city safe.
During the ceremony, former New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir gave me a picture of my grandfather, John J. O'Reilly, who was a New York police officer for 22 years.
Born in 1895, John O'Reilly served his country in World War I and city well. He was a patriot.
On the pinhead front, actress Pamela Anderson apparently owes nearly a half-million dollars to the state of California. Ms. Anderson's attorney told us that she is in the process of resolving her tax liabilities.
She's going to have to pay the money or get the Wesley Snipes treatment. He has been sentenced to prison, and nobody wants that to happen to Pam.
Ms. Anderson may be a pinhead, but she should not be a jailbird.