Friday, March 06, 2009

Orwell watch: special cram-down edition

I was glad to see the House pass Obama's mortgage plan, and also got a chuckle from this remark by a spokesperson of the Mortgage Association:

The House yesterday passed legislation that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of troubled home mortgages, overcoming fierce opposition from the financial industry.

The bill, a package of housing-related initiatives, passed 234 to 191, largely along party lines. It now heads to the Senate, where it will face a tougher fight but has the backing of some powerful members.

Under the legislation, bankruptcy judges could cut the principal on a homeowner's mortgage as well as reduce the interest rate and extend the terms -- provisions known as cramdowns.


This year, the measure also faced opposition from moderate Democrats who forced concessions that require, among other things, a homeowner to share with the lender any profit from the eventual sale of the home if a judge lowers the principal balance. The compromise version also gives preference to reducing a homeowner's interest rate over cutting the principal balance.

"We are pleased that the House moved to limit the harm this bill will do to consumers, and we want to work with the Senate to further contain the damage," David G. Kittle, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry group, said in a statement.


Ah yes. We, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America are expressly concerned about the impact this bill will have for consumers. Including that provision we demanded about making sure lenders get some of any profit from the homeowners, er, "consumers".

John Boehner is on some serious crack

Calls for government spending freeze.

This reminds me of a much quoted story from the Civil War when Lincoln, exasperated with the inaction (sound familiar?) of General McClellan, initiated a war plan on his own, setting a date to begin the battle, and remarking that "if the general isn't using the army, he (Lincoln) would like to borrow it for a while."*

If Boehner, David Brooks, Evan Bayh, Judd Gregg, Lou Dobbs, and CNBC don't want to use the government for anything, we would like to borrow it for awhile.

*quotation approximate

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

On moderation, budgets, and the work of government

I don't know who's been spiking Joe Klein's oatmeal these days, but he is almost starting to make me like him again:


David Brooks writes today as a moderate-conservative anguished by Barack Obama's budget. I've known David for almost twenty years now. We've had many wonderful conversations, publicly and privately, over those years, and I value the quality of his mind, his decency, his essential sanity. We both consider ourselves moderates, though of different sorts.

But I disagree with him profoundly about the Obama budget--and so, I would venture, do most moderate-liberals. The budget has to be seen in context. We are at the end of a 30-year period of radical conservatism, a period so right-wing that many of those now considered "liberals"--like, say, Barack Obama--would be seen as moderate pantywaists in the great sweep of modern political history. The past 30 years have been such a violent departure from the norm, such a profound destruction of the basic functions of government, that a major rectification is called for now--in rebalancing the system of taxation toward progressivity, in rebuilding the infrastructure of the country, not just physically, but also socially and intellectually.


Here's hoping the regressives in Congress and the media will not thwart the attempt to undo the havoc of the last few decades and allow us to make our system work again.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I'm sure more tax cuts and less regulation are the answer

Or we could keep killing off what labor unions are still left.

But whatever we decide to do, more better policy ideas are definitely NOT the answer.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

"CPAC is just unpleasant"

Via Firedoglake, one conservative's take on the recently concluded conservative political action committee conference:

Tucker Carlson mildly suggests that conservatives need more than their feelings. That, whatever you think of the bias of the New York Times, they at least care that they spell your name correctly, and they actually do something: gather news.

He was booed and challenged by the audience of course.

Joe the Plumber was the star of the day. I haven't confirmed this, but I was told he recently briefed a group of Republicans on his trip to Gaza. I don't care what your foreign policy is: Joe the Plumber shouldn't be informing it.

All day, the message I got was this: The movement enjoys being hated by its enemies, more than it cares about its own goals. It is populist, and irresponsible. A little popularizing is good, a little political theatre is good.

CPAC is just unpleasant. And it is not just the elites flattening the ambitions of the people, it is the people dumbing down their own elites. Well-adjusted people, even if they feel alienated from certain parts of American society don't wish to be hated by society. People who want to advance some goals, want more responsibility, not less. I hate that CPAC seems to give credibility to Adorno: that conservatives have defective personalities.


Maybe we can pony up the money so the CPAC can bring its freak show to town every six months. The more the better.