Thursday, May 08, 2008



Barney & Maxine: problem solvers

While Republican House leaders wring their hands and rend their clothes fretting over why voters are massively rejecting their candidates and worrying that the GOP minority could easily lose another 2 or 3 dozen House members in November, all they need to do is look in the mirror to figure it out. And blaming hapless schnooks like Vito, Vitter or Larry Craig isn't going to do the trick. They are the party of obstructionism and the party that is standing in the way of progress, preventing an end to the occupation of Iraq, preventing universal health care, preventing sound environmental and energy policies, preventing, in fact, everything that the American people want!

Yesterday their despised leader, George Bush, threatened to veto a foreclosure bill that would attempt to help families and neighborhoods that have been victimized by predatory lenders who have been enabled by out-of-control Republican deregulation mania. Today the House passed the first of two of the bills Bush was railing against, Maxine Waters' Neighborhood Stabilization Act of 2008. Only one Blue Dog, Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) voted with the Republicans. Eleven Republicans-- all of whom are either retiring or in grave danger of losing their re-election bids in November-- abandoned their party's reactionary leadership and voted with the Democrats (even including such inveterate rubber stamps as the Diaz-Balart brothers in Florida and Steven LaTourette of Ohio).

While Bush was eager to shovel hundreds of billions of dollars towards the predatory lenders to shore up their businesses and even to provide irresponsible and possible criminal executive with multimillion dollar bonuses for causing the collapse of the real estate market, he dug in his heels on Water's attempt to "make federal money available in loans and grants for the rehabilitation and eventual sale or rental of blighted properties."

And just moments ago, the House also passed the companion bill, Barney Franks' American Housing Rescue & Foreclosure Prevention Act, a responsible and comprehensive response to the nightmare of the Bush Economic Miracle. It seeks to assist families facing foreclosure keep their homes, help other families avoid foreclosures in the future, and, with Maxine Waters' bill, help the recovery of communities harmed by empty homes caught in the foreclosure process. The bill, which Bush swears he will veto and McConnell vows to obstruct in the Senate, provide mortgage refinancing assistance, which will help keep families from losing their homes and protect neighboring home values. Barney's bill was voted on in 3 parts and dozens of Republicans were too frightened of the constituents to oppose the bill. On Roll Call 302, in fact, 95 Republicans gave Bush and their extremist leaders the finger and joined all the Democrats to pass it overwhelmingly and with a veto-proof majority. In fact only 94 Republicans voted with Bush. It passed 322-94, one of Bush's biggest defeats since he stole the presidency in 2000. Only the most insane kooks and loons-- The Dana Rohrabachers, John Shadeggs, Michael McCauls, Mean Jean Schmidts, and Scott Garretts hung in there with Boehner, Blunt, Cole and Howdy Doody.

The GOP strategy is to have Mitch McConnell filibuster both bills to death in the Senate and to use Bush's veto pen as a backup. And they wonder why they're unable to persuade even hard core Republican districts in Illinois and Louisiana to vote for their rubber stamp candidates? Even rank and file Republican voters have turned on Bush. While his overall approval rating continues to plummet to the lowest levels yet among normal Americans, only 6 in 10 GOP voters like the job he's doing. 7% of Democrats-- presumably Blue Dogs like Chris Carney, John Barrow, Leonard Boswell, Melissa Bean, Heath Shuler, Jim Marshall, and Nick Lampson who always rubber stamp his decisions-- approve of the job he's doing. (Hopefully, Democratic primary voters in Iowa and Georgia, will realize it isn't only admitted Republicans bolstering Bush's toxic regime, but some of their own representatives as well.) If Barrow and Boswell are defeated in their primary bids-- the way Al Wynn was-- you can bet your ass that crossover support for the Bush-Cheney agenda will drop precipitously among the treacherous Blue Dogs. Both of their opponents, Regina Thomas in Georgia and Ed Fallon in Iowa, are progressive with proven track records and both are up on the Blue America list of endorsees. Please consider supporting them-- and while you do, take a look at Texas Rep. Al Green explain the importance of this legislation-- for all of us:

I asked our newest Blue America endorsee, Debbie Cook, how she thought Orange County voters would react to Rohrabacher's out-of-touch vote today. Her response sounds to me like what most people in America think of the 94 Republican extremists who believe in helping predatory lenders but not hard working families: "It's yet another example of how Rohrabacher is out of touch with the middle class families he is supposed to represent. There are thousands of families in this district losing their homes, losing jobs and many others are struggling to pay for the increased prices of necessities like fuel, food and healthcare. This vote is shocking because it exposes the hypocrisy of those in Congress who bend over backwards to subsidize Wall Street losses, and refuse to lift a finger to help those most affected by the mortgage crisis. We need to have new representatives in Washington who will try to level the playing field for middle class families."


Tomorrow's NY Times spills the beans on one of the Senate's many personifications of conflict of interest. This particular one, greedy corporatist swine Richard Shelby, is determined to wreck the mortgage bill that would assist distressed homeowners. Shelby has become a multimillionaire-- many times over-- since becoming a Senator and he's done that as a real estate developer and landlord. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee there is a great deal of mischief he can commit... and he is.
[O]ver the years, his critics say, Mr. Shelby’s ties to the mortgage industry and the Alabama real estate market, and the generous campaign donations he receives from financial services companies, have distorted his perspective and led him to delay critical legislative remedies.

Indeed, Mr. Shelby’s legislative and business worlds have often intersected. For instance, while on the Banking Committee, he financed an apartment complex he owns in Tuscaloosa with a $5 million loan from Freddie Mac, the same government-sponsored mortgage company whose regulation his committee is reshaping.

Even his efforts to steer federal money to the University of Alabama, where a recently built $60 million science building is named after Mr. Shelby and his wife, Annette, have benefited him. The tens of millions in earmarks have helped the university, his alma mater, grow and attract more students. The tenants of his apartment complex are mostly students.

Mr. Shelby said in an interview his business dealings posed no conflict.

...Others see it differently. “Senator Shelby would have prevented anything going through that the industry was not happy with,” said Representative Brad Miller, Democrat of North Carolina, who has pushed legislation to crack down on predatory lending, an effort that has stalled in the Senate in part because of Mr. Shelby’s reservations. “That’s the sense from all the people who are involved in the issue.”

Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who leads the House Banking Committee and has won points for working with the Bush administration on housing issues, said he had been surprised by Mr. Shelby’s unwillingness to accept several proposals like a permanent increase in the cap to $730,000 from about $360,000 on home loans that can be federally insured.

“I think he has been the major obstacle,” Mr. Frank said, calling it “a serious problem in getting things done.”

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At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm concerned about these foreclosure relief bills.

On the one hand, I was wise enough not to buy a house I could not afford on ridiculous terms - three year teaser rate and all that. People who did that can go bankrupt like they deserve, and it's fine with me. I don't have a house! Why should my taxes go up to pay for other people's houses? Especially considering their stupid and/or criminal behavior!

On the other hand, there was plenty of fraud on the side of lenders too - encouraging borrowers to lie on their applications, because they intended to sell the loan at the earliest opportunity.

Add to that the fact that CEO's of the crooked companies are getting paid tens of $M for running their companies into the ground, essentially stealing from the stockholders, and the whole mess is suddenly seen as a complete fubar.

I can't support a "relief" bill that lets any of those idiots and crooks off easy.

At 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like word of Al Wynn's impending departure from the halls of Congress may have been getting around.

Keep spreading the good news, Howie!

At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why should my taxes go up to pay for other people's houses? "

It shouldnt. this is another Democrat-sponsored reaming of productive taxpaying Americans on behalf of the irresponsible and the crooked. Like you said, this is a bailout of the worst offenders, both borrowers and lenders. And who pays? the people who were merely honest, hard-working and did the right things.

The real headline should be:


Yeah, great leftist socialist Democrat plan to rape the American taxpayer.

Anyobody who supports this horrible and tragic bill needs to be fired NOW.

At 5:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet it was the republicans who caused the mess in the first place, just like with Enron, Iraq, the economy, borrowed money from China, lost jobs here, the price of gasoline, etc., etc.

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Video of Bush on War Crimes Trial

Remember: Swarm At Dawn

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yet it was the republicans who caused the mess in the first place"

Liar liar pants on fire.
The subprime mess is a combo of Federal rules that the Democrats supported to encourage more lending
check out Community Reinvestment Act - and the low interest rates. The intrusive push by politicians to make homeownership more attainable for those who did not qualify for traditional prime loans (ex. The Community Reinvestment Act), along with the Federal Reserve’s policies of keeping rates too low for too long played a major role in creating the subprime crisis.

There were irresponsible lenders and borrowers who got caught in the 'bubble' mindset. the Democrats never discouraged this when it was happening, but demanded more. Now they are punishing the taxpayers with this cruel bailout. This only sets us up for the next crisis.

The blame Bush-for-everything line is moronic unthinking partisanship. Does the DNC give free lobotomies to get people to spew that crud?

At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"just like with Enron"

LOL Enron gave big money to Clinton administration, and the Enron fraud on the books started in 2000 *when Clinton was in office*. When Enron imploded *ROBERT RUBIN* Clinton's ex-treasury secty was at Citicorp and called the Bush Treasury to get a bailout - Bush admin would have none of it.

Yeah, blame Bush admin for not being corrupt enough to save the fraudulent Enron empire at the behest of pro-Enron Clintonites.

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton is the one to blame for the Mortgage Crisis.
On November 12, 1999, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. One of the effects of the repeal was to allow commercial and investment banks to consolidate. Some economists have criticized the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act as contributing to the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.[7][8]
The repeal enabled commercial lenders such as Citigroup, the largest U.S. bank by assets, to underwrite and trade instruments such as mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations and establish so-called structured investment vehicles, or SIVs, that bought those securities. Citigroup played a major part in the repeal. Then called Citicorp, the company merged with Travelers Insurance company the year before using loopholes in Glass-Steagall that allowed for temporary exemptions. With lobbying led by Roger Levy, the "finance, insurance and real estate industries together are regularly the largest campaign contributors and biggest spenders on lobbying of all business sectors [in 1999]. They laid out more than $200 million for lobbying in 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics..." These industries succeeded in their two decades long effort to repeal the act.[9]
The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of Glass-Steagall since at least the 1980's. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report which explored the case for preserving Glass-Steagall and the case against preserving the act.

At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you worry about bail out of the big companies,and not that I agree with a bailout, BUT the middle class people aren't the ones who are creating the jobs! If the big companies aren't doing well neither are we! Come on you know you can't save our economy from the bottom up!! If you save the middle and low class families, what good is it if all the jobs are gone? Dems want to tax big companies like crazy to save the middle class and that will make problems worse!Yes there are a lot of crooked people that take advantage of these bailouts, but if it doesn't happen and the lending law that Clinton passed in 1999 doesn't get thrown out then we all are in trouble even more! There is a reason that the Glass-Steagall Act was there. The Big companies are who creates jobs, and if we don't make sure they are doing well, then the middle class will be low income along with the others. So it's either bailout and try to get corrupt business people out and charged with fraud or whatever, or we all suffer. Yes taxes sucks but in order to cut taxes, if you look at history, then something else is taxed higher. Do the math and why aren't people really understanding how our government works? If Anyone would actually use common sense AND knowledge, no one but the seriously dense and uneducated people would vote for Obama!!


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