Daily Archives: February 21, 2009

Conservatives Start Counter Revolution Aimed at Creating New Suburban Slums

The Conservative De-evolution

Jesse Taylor at pandagon covers the Right’s “Tea party” or revolution over something – the Malkinites only seem to know they resent President Obama for increasing the Conservative legacy debt of $10 trillion dollars by $800 billion.

Rick Santelli, CNBC personality (the term being used broadly), broke into a rant on the trading floor on Thursday about how the mortgage plan is completely and totally unfair and is stealing the hard-earned money that Republicans made sure he and the people cheering him on paid minimal taxes on.  As Ezra points out, the clip is utterly bizarre – a guy in an $800 suit ranting at people in the very industry that got us in this mess about how they shouldn’t be responsible for helping ensure the economy on which they depend doesn’t go to hell.  And, of course, his populist outrage is met with hoots and hollers, because the guy’s on the trading floor of the stock exchange.

Malkin and her ilk have decided that since some guy said something they liked in a room full of people predisposed to like it, the same axiom should apply at any place and any time.  Hence, “Tea Parties”.

In general, the goal of a successful protest should be to capture the particular mood and emotions of a substantial number of people, and to turn that zeitgeist into popular action.  This explains why the crux of the “Tea Party” movement has been bright signs making fun of something a black lady said.  Apparently, renters of the world should unite as well, taking poorly lettered signs to the nearest gathering of Democrats until hatin’-ass mortgage holders back up off this hot shit.

Somewhere in this faux populist uprising is some resentment that the Recovery Act will help some homeowners that do not deserve help – the ever scary poor people that really run the world and which Malkin and Rick Santelli want to make sure remain marginalized. That doesn’t make sense, but that seems to wrap up the general contradictory tone of things. Investors Business Daily – a right-wing site that tries to pass itself off as a news source takes note of this new uprising against elements of the stimulus directed at homeowners,

*Holding signs reading “Stimulate Business, Not Government,” “Families Against Porkulus” and “Say No To Generational Theft,”

* Amanda Grosserode, calls herself a home-schooling mom who is “fed up” with the spending in Washington. She has been a member of Fair Tax Kansas City since last fall. ( she does realize two important things – Bush and a Republican Congress ran up the largest debt in our history and the stimulus contains one of the biggest tax cuts?)

*”I think the taxpayer revolt is the new counterculture,” said Malkin ( people in every nation on eart from the dawn of civilization have disliked taxes. The problem is you can’t have a civilization without them. The new counter-culture? Who knew Malkin was a comdeian)

* “I couldn’t believe something this gigantic was getting slammed through Congress,” (Keli) Carender said of the stimulus. “I figured I could sit around and be depressed, or start a protest.” ( There was plenty of debate. There was a vote. Carender’s side lost. That happens in a democracy. Agains where was she the last eight years when Republicans were spending her money while simutaneously driving the economy into a ditch)

Firing Back on the “Fiscal Responsibility” Lobby – Our Future has tried to counter the Right’s increasingly shrill and substance-less urban myths about the Recover Act,

1. Conservatives are “fiscally responsible.” Progressives just want to spend, spend, spend.

The comeback to the first assertion is easy: Just point and laugh. Any party that thought giving cost-plus, no-bid contracts to Halliburton was fiscally responsible (and let’s not even get started on handing Hank Paulson $700 billion, no questions asked) deserves to be made fun of for using words that are simply beyond its limited comprehension.

And a quick look back at actual history makes them into even bigger fools. For decades now, liberal presidents have been far and away more restrained in their spending, and more likely to turn in balanced budgets. Part of this is that they’ve got a good grasp of Keynes, and know that the best way out of bad financial times is to make some up-front investments in the American people—investments which have almost always, in the end, returned far more than we put in.

Its not that Malkin and her misguided followers are ignoring the last eight years, the are pretending as though the fiscal record of Conservatives for the last 80 years never happened.

4. Whatever. It’s still irresponsible to take on that much debt.

Even John McCain’s economic adviser thinks this one’s wrong. Here’s what Mark Zandi said about the U.S. national debt on the February 1 edition of Meet The Press:

It’s 40 percent of GDP now. If the projections are right, we get to 60, maybe 70 percent of GDP, which is high, but it’s manageable in our historic—in our history we’ve been higher, as you pointed out. And moreover, it’s very consistent with other countries and their debt loads. And more—just as important, investors understand this. They know this and they’re still buying our debt and interest rates are still very, very low. So we need to take this opportunity and be very aggressive and use the resources that we have at our disposal.

There are actual Conservative economists out there, as compared to hucksters like Rick Santelli who may differ on a particular item here or there, but generally think we’re headed in the right direction with the stimulus bill.

The meme stated last year with Bush’s $700 billion Wall St bail-out – its irresponsible homeowners that got us into this mess and its the honest hard working Americans that are bailing everyone else out. It wasn’t true then and not true now. The new plan, not a continuation of Bush’s plan is a carrots and sticks approach for homeowners who have lost jobs or taken a hit in income due to the recession, The administration’s housing plan seems well thought out

The loan modification part is aimed at borrowers who are at imminent risk of default, and is modeled on the scheme that the FDIC has been testing and advocating for some months. An explicit public subsidy is involved–to the tune of $75 billion–which in effect will be split between lenders/servicers and qualifying distressed borrowers. Lenders and servicers get cleverly structured incentives to reduce monthly repayments to 31 percent of gross income. (Note that modifications up to now have been few and far between, and have often left repayments unchanged or higher than before, once penalties and arrears have been added back.) Lower repayments obviously lessen the risk of default.

The administration says that its scheme does not reward people who recklessly borrowed too much. This is untrue: the plan will certainly help some people who borrowed more than they should have. No doubt, it would be fairer to help only borrowers whose standard repayments (after teaser rates expired) were no more than say 30 percent of gross income to begin with, and/or who borrowed less than 80% of their property’s initial value–in other words, to help only borrowers who behaved prudently, and who are now in trouble because their income has fallen. But of course this would have meant many more defaults. Because foreclosures also hurt innocent bystanders, there is a public interest in limiting them. The second part of the plan, I think, is indeed unfair and does raise moral hazard concerns–but I’d say that is a price worth paying if it stems the tide of foreclosures.

Probably quite a few anecdotes out there about shifty lazy people and taking out irresponsible loans. Anecdotes are never sufficient reason to punish the vast majority of homeowners that acted honorably and have fallen on tough times because of economic conditions that are beyond their control. One can look at it selfishly. Some areas of the country are suffering very high foreclosure rates. Say maybe four out of six homeowners are in good shape and don’t need assistance, that still leaves fifteen to twenty percent of your neighborhood’s houses empty. Who thinks that helps your property values or the stability of your neighborhood. Malkin, Santelli, Investors Business Daily and a host of other right-wing extremists are selling themselves as populists who care about average people – it seems that the new definition of average means passing some litmus test that the Right can’t even define.