Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Finally Admits that the President Can Fire the SEC Chair After All

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 4:18 pm

It turns out that the President can indeed fire the Chair of the SEC after all.

After the L.A. Times and many others wrote that the President has no such authority, I sent a complaint to the L.A. Times on September 23. I cited case law holding that the Chair can be removed for no reason at all — and that even in his lesser role as Commissioner, he can be fired for cause. As I said in my letter to The Times:

[A] President can remove a commissioner — but only for cause. Meanwhile, according to the D.C. Circuit case I provide above, the Chair himself serves at the President’s pleasure, meaning he can be removed for any reason or no reason.

It’s true that the Chair serves a dual role as commissioner and Chair. But even if the President needs “cause” to fire Cox in his role as commissioner, he still can fire Cox. If I can fire you for cause, it’s wrong to say I can’t fire you at all.

I subsequently exchanged some e-mails with Doyle McManus, the author of the story, and he agreed to read the cases I had provided and discuss them with other editors.

Yesterday, the L.A. Times issued this correction:

SEC Chairman: Articles in Section A on Sept. 19 and 20 about the financial rescue plan said the president could not fire the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The statute governing the SEC does not explicitly give the president the authority to fire the commission’s members. However, federal courts have held that the president can remove members of independent commissions like the SEC “for cause,” including “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.” The president can also demote the chairman of the SEC without removing him or her from the commission.

The correction does not make it clear that the demotion can occur for any reason, because the Chair serves at the President’s pleasure. However, I am still pleased to see the paper acknowledge that, as I previously argued, the President can indeed fire the Chair of the SEC.

The correction comes 10 days after I sent my letter — and too late to do much good. Because the L.A. Times and Jake Tapper failed to issue quick corrections, the public will likely remember this as a gaffe by McCain — one in which he foolishly spoke of exercising a power that he wouldn’t have as President. The fact remains, however, that whatever you think of McCain’s idea of firing Cox, he wasn’t wrong to say he could. (He was wrong to later backtrack, on 60 Minutes, and claim that he couldn’t. But in so doing, he merely was caving to the media’s Conventional Wisdom, which now turns out to have been wrong, as it often is.)

What Congress Wants

Filed under: Economics,Government — DRJ @ 9:59 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The second effort at bailout legislation passed in part because of the “sweeteners” the Senate added. One such sweetener was an extension of tax cuts for businesses, with the exception of the oil and gas industry. Here’s a comparison of what Congress thinks is important to American consumers:

Houston Chronicle: “Oil, Gas Firms Face Tax Increase.”

“The massive financial bailout package approved by the House on Friday and quickly signed by the president blocks oil and gas companies from enjoying nearly $5 billion in anticipated tax cuts, while raising nearly $4 billion more in new taxes to help fund tax breaks for renewable energy.

An oil industry representative expressed disappointment.

“Our views on increased taxes on the industry, whether they’re part of the bailout or some other legislation, remain unchanged,” said Bill Bush, a spokesman for the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group.

Additional taxes discourage increased investment in energy production, and that moves us in the wrong direction and could ultimately hurt consumers,” Bush added.

The legislation freezes the tax deduction oil and gas companies receive for their domestic manufacturing operations at 6 percent, while other American manufacturers will see that deduction rise to 9 percent in 2010.

That provision will raise $4.9 billion over 10 years.”

Hollywood Variety: “Hollywood gets bailout break — Tax credit sneaks into Friday’s approved bill.”

“The legislation, originally enacted in 2004 in an effort to stem runaway production, extends and expands an existing federal domestic production tax credit that had been set to expire at the end of this year. The credit was also modified to allow the incentive to be applied as an immediate deduction of the first $15 million spent on any film or TV program produced in the United States.

Previously, the incentive was only available to productions with a total cost of under $15 million. The modification is retroactive to January, allowing many more productions to take advantage of the incentive this year.

The legislation also increases the single-year deduction in production costs, from $15 million to $20 million, that film and TV productions may take if the costs are incurred in designated economically depressed areas.

The incentive was extended through December 2009. The projected cost of the incentive over 10 years is $478 million.

MPAA chief Dan Glickman hailed the legislation as being well timed to keep the film and TV biz working.

“This puts our industry, which employs 1.5 million Americans, on equal footing under the tax code with other leaders of the U.S. economy and will help keep jobs and film production here in the United States,” he said.”

Moral of this story: Saving oil and gas jobs is bad but keeping Hollywood jobs is good. I expect to see more “bad” jobs go away, just what this Democratic-led Congress wants.


Rasmussen Poll Says Biden Won Debate (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:33 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Rasmussen poll: Biden 45% – Palin 37%.

Biden 59% – Palin 22% among government employees. Entrepreneurs and middle class voters chose Palin. 73% thought Ifill was neutral.

UPDATE: Count Mark Steyn among the 37% who liked Palin:

“I was a bit alarmed at first. I hadn’t seen her for awhile, not since the halfwits at the McCain campaign walled her up in the witness protection program and permitted visitations only by selected poobahs of the Metamucil networks. When she walked out on stage, her famous reach-for-the-skies up-do seemed a bit subdued and earthbound, like a low-budget remake of the famous scene in There’s Something About Mary. Then she started speaking. The lyrics were workmanlike, but the music was effective. I have a couple of favorite snapshots from the evening. One was when Governor Sarah Palin said that John McCain hadn’t required her to check her principles at the door, and she still believed in drilling in ANWR and she was hoping to bring him round on that. And then she grinned and gave a mischievous wink into the camera, and to the nation.”


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