NewsBuster’s Major Fail on Obama Religion and Church Attendance

NewsBusters is the media watchdog site out to save the world from all the liberal media conspiracies. That mission statement is like saying sugar companies are on a mission to make people thinner. The uber right-wing bootlickers of  conservatism at Newsbusters travel in more factless conspiracy theories and sleazeball punditry than Glenn Beck could hit with a laser guided chalk board. WaPo Laments False Rumor Obama’s a Muslim: He’s Been a ‘Diligent and Personally Committed’ Christian?

But what’s really shaky is the story’s accuser, Obama “faith adviser” Joshua DuBois, trying to tout how the president is deeply, “diligently” Christian, when the president is much more diligent at golfing than he is at church attendance. The number of Sunday church services Obama has attended since the Inauguration doesn’t get beyond counting on one hand, even bypassing the pews at Christmas.

Last time I read the Constitution it said Americas are guaranteed the right to worship as they please. That included going or going going to the house of worship of one’s choice. Clearly NB has made church going a litmus test. if you don’t attend church – one of which the Right has final say is a worthy church – than you’re not a good Christian, not a good patriot and cannot be a good president. Can we get an amen for that. According to the rules – and conservatives are the only one allowed to make the rules – Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were sucky fake Christians and patriots. While that might be true, I’m not saying it, I’m just going by the rules laid out by the ever so humble Cons who make the rules. Politico article on Obama’s recent church attendance ignored Bush’s sporadic attendance as president

* In a November 17 article, the Associated Press’ Matthew Barakat reported  that Obama “could choose, as many presidents have done, not to attend services at all. President George W. Bush, for instance, has only infrequently attended services in Washington, occasionally going to St. John’s [Church, near the White House].”
* In a November 14 article, Time magazine senior editor Amy Sullivan noted that “Ronald Reagan didn’t go to church at all” and reported that while “[t]he Clintons drove down the street every Sunday to Foundry United Methodist … George W. Bush never became a regular member of any local church, preferring to worship most often at the chapel at Camp David.”
* In a November 11 article, The Hill’s Jordy Yager wrote: “President Bush is widely known for his religious beliefs, but for eight years has not frequented a local church, at times citing security concerns.” Yager added that “security does not make regular worship impossible. Both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, for example, attended D.C.-area churches. Clinton’s church, Foundry Methodist Church, installed metal detectors because many tourists attended services on Sunday — some simply to catch a glimpse of the president.”

Reagan kept a diary. It’s release is reviewed here – Reagan on Reagan – and includes some thoughts on his entries about religion,

Reagan’s religion, in turn, comes across as important, but quirky. Entries for early 1981 include references to Armageddon being in the air. Reagan also sets down his strong feelings that the fetus is a living human being and that the Shroud of Turin is authentic. He was obviously bothered by his limited church attendance, especially in the wake of the 1981 assassination attempt, as we can glean from his comments about how “elaborate security measures” made his visits “a hazard to others.” On the quirky side, the 1988 flap over the Reagans’ interest in astrology gave some church groups pause — the Southern Baptist Convention briefly considered withdrawing the speaking invitation it had extended to him — and it must be said that Reagan’s easy dismissal of the astrology question in these diaries is too brief to be convincing.

Ronald and Nancy’s fascination with astrology is always going to be a point of embarrassment for conservatives like NB. Right-wing conservative minister Pat Robertson had this to say about astrology,

Q: Pat, I just wanted to know if astrology and reading your horoscope is wrong. My friends and I started reading them just for fun. I don’t want to do anything against God. Is it wrong if we just read them for fun?

A: Get a concordance and look up astrologer, soothsaying, necromancy, caldeans and some of those other terms. Yes, it’s wrong. It’s like saying, “Well, I have a lion, and I wonder if it’s okay to go into his cage and pet him from time to time.” Well, he might be a friendly lion. On the other hand, he might be hungry, and you’d become dinner. Those things are deadly, and once you open the door into the occult, it’s one crack, and then the next and the next and the next. Of course, you shouldn’t be involved in horoscopes and that kind of activity. It’s unbiblical, and it’s wrong.

To go back to the Reagna diaries for a moment. Newt Gingrich is obviously running for president in 2012. He was not not one of Raygun’s favorites,

Much as he favored tax cuts and spending reductions, he drew a line at supporting zealots in the House of Representatives like Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich, explaining to himself why he thought their economic proposals were simplistic.

Not much has changed.

From an interview with East Carolina University History Dept. chair Gerald Prokopowicz about his book, “Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And other frequently asked questions about Abraham Lincoln.”   (Pantheon).

Wasn’t he secretly baptized when he was older?

No, nor was he planning to convert to (fill in the church of your choice) on Easter Sunday, 1865, only to be tragically murdered on the preceding Good Friday.

The answers to questions about Lincoln’s church membership are not the ones that most people are hoping to hear. He was never a member of the church you attend, or any church. His religious beliefs were dynamic, complex, and powerful, but not conventional. He wasn’t a Baptist, despite being raised in a Baptist tradition. He wasn’t a Presbyterian, although he attended Presbyterian services much of his adult life. He was not a Catholic, contrary to rumors started by the ravings of Reverend Charles Chiniquy, who published a bizarre diatribe called Fifty Years in the Church of Rome (1886), which accused Catholics of claiming that Lincoln had been born into their Church. According to Mrs. Lincoln, who ought to have known, he was not even a Christian. Many stories have circulated about Lincoln being secretly baptized, or planning to be, but they are all unsubstantiated.

And yet, Abraham Lincoln was in many ways the most deeply spiritual person ever to occupy the White House. In the same 1866 interview with William Herndon where Mary said that her husband “was not a technical Christian,” whatever that might mean, she also said that “he was a religious man always” who “had a Kind of Poetry in his Nature.” Certainly no one who reads the Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln’s profound meditation on God’s role in earthly events and the proper response thereto, can doubt this.

For most of the 20th century, historians tended to respond with dismayed contempt to the public’s desire for a conventionally religious Lincoln. They argued that Lincoln’s real faith was his almost mystical devotion to the Union, and harked back to one of Lincoln’s earliest speeches, in which he called for Americans to make a “civil religion” out of “obedience to the laws.” Lincoln’s many Biblical references in his speeches and writings were treated as metaphor or rhetorical embellishment.

While I doubt Lincoln would have anything to do with the wackos who constitute modern right-wing conservatism and call themselves Republicans; if he were running for office today he would not stand a chance of being nominated with the Right’s fixation on religious litmus tests.

This story is already induced outrage fatigue, but Shaffer adds some humor, Greetings, 18 Percenters! Let’s meet the knucklehead Americans who think Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Don’t these people read newspapers or watch TV? As a matter of fact, many do. According to the poll, 60 percent (PDF) of those who believe Obama is a Muslim also told the pollsters that they learned it from the media. Seeing as I can recall no major or minor media report that presented proof that would convince any sentient creature over the age of 10 that Obama is a Muslim, I’m starting to feel better. The 18 percenters are imagining  things. Non-media sources cited by the poll’s respondents include Obama’s behaviors or own words (11 percent), nonspecific things they’ve heard or read (7 percent), the Internet (7 percent), things heard or read during the presidential campaign (6 percent), Obama’s ancestry (4 percent), and so on.

Over the back fence and water cooler gossip still works. It might originate with Wing Nut Daily or Glenn Beck, but their followers create the echo. Many of them the urban myths wing-nuts just feel that Obama, or whatever Democrat,  is something because they feel it and believe it. Facts are wasted on them. Facts even seems to make them more determined to spread the myth.

Fly Fishing Wallpaper

Fly Fishing Wallpaper

19 of the 22 states suing government over ObamaCare (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) accept grant money from health care law.

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that 45 states and the District of Columbia “will receive $1 million in grant funds to help improve the review of proposed health insurance premium increases, take action against insurers seeking unreasonable rate hikes, and ensure consumers receive value for their premium dollars.” The $46 million are part of the $250 million in rate review grant dollars authorized by the new health care law. Indeed, interest is so high that states that oppose the health law applied for grants. As the Wonk Room points out, 19 of the 22 states that are suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the health care law will receive $1 million each to improve their rate review capabilities

Courage of their convictions anyone? Money of any kind from any source is to conservatives what heroin is to an addict. Just this pass February Democrats tallied up the number of Republicans who either voted against the stimulus(Recovery Act) and/or bragged to their constituents about the funds they can snapped up for their state – How Will Republican Recovery Act Hypocrites Mark Tomorrow’s Anniversary?

The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times have both pointed out in the last week that the very same Republicans who indignantly raised their fist in opposition to the Recovery Act have, with the other hand, brazenly accepted funding for projects in their home states and districts. Many have even gone so far as to attend ribbon cutting ceremonies for the same Recovery Act projects that they routinely dismissed as wasteful. We’ve identified 120 of them – and counting. These people have in one breath decried the Recovery Act as ineffective and in the next breath championed the funding as essential to job creation. Incredible.

The truth is the Recovery Act is doing exactly what it was intended to do. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the Recovery Act has – in this first year alone – resulted in up to 2.4 million jobs and prevented us from falling into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression..

This week in baseless Reagan hagiography – Why is it so hard for pundits to admit that Reagan was just as unpopular in 1982 as Obama is in 2010?

I swear, I want to stop writing about the nearly-identical political trajectories (at least so far) of the Reagan and Obama presidencies. But too many pundits just can’t seem to get it through their heads that Reagan, as president, was not some magical political super-being who was immune to sagging public confidence, poor midterm election prospects, and intraparty dissent and second-guessing that Obama is now faced with. And this week brought us two more egregious offenders.

[  ]…Let’s leave aside Ajami’s ridiculous contentions about the Reagan crew’s respect for the public treasury (ahem); others have provided the context he ignores. The main problem with Ajami’s narrative is that there’s just no evidence that the unbreakable bond between the president and his people that he celebrates ever really existed — or that Reagan’s poll numbers at any point in his presidency were really that remarkable.

Where, for instance, was the “deep and true” bond in the 1982 midterms, when double-digit unemployment prompted voters to toss 26 of Reagan’s Republican allies out of Congress and to hand seven new governorships to Democrats and 11 state legislative chambers to the Democrats? Or where was it in 1986, when a pre-Iran-Contra Reagan pleaded with Americans — the Americans with whom he supposedly shared a mutually affectionate relationship — to preserve his party’s control of the Senate, only to watch as voters handed Democrats an eight-seat gain and their first Senate majority since 1980.

Steve Kornacki also notes the S&L meltdown in which Reagan did something far closer to actual socialism than anything Obama has done – Reagan seized the S&L and forced them to reorganize. This week a lot of the right-wing conservative blogs were having yet another inappropriate keyboard spasm over finding an old Reagan video on YouTube in which he asked Americans if they were better off four years ago. Only 24% of the country actually said they were better off under Saint Ronnie’s policies. I’m not sure I agree with the tidy analogies Steve makes, but one historical trend is certain. Every Republican presidency from Nixon through Bush 43 was more corrupt than the last. Reagan had the Wedtech scandal, the HUD scandal, Iran-Contra and enough other shenanigans to get 138 Reagan administration officials indicted. Bush 43 was more corrupt but was better at hiding the evidence by either refusing to honor Congressional subpoenas or claiming national security as a cover.

Conservative Hack Roger Simon Explains What it Takes to Be a One Term President

What would a president have to do. What egregious offense would committed by a sitting president would deserve the firm belief, that yes indeed this is the act, word, policy or incident – is the last straw? To Roger Simon at Politico ( Politico is the new code word for 90% pure hackery) that unforgivable act is defending the 1st amendment – Obama, the one-term president, By: Roger Simon, August 17, 2010 04:29 AM EDT

So on Friday night, he said: “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

See what I mean about not getting it?

John Feehery, a Republican consultant, told Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times, “This is not a unifying decision on his part; he chose a side. I understand why he did this, but politically I think it’s a blunder.”

You could not put the conventional wisdom more clearly: It is far better for a president to do nothing than to choose a side. Even if the side he chooses is the right one from an ethical or moral perspective, it is a “blunder” politically because inevitably it will upset some people.

All it takes for a Democratic president to be doomed to one term is defend every American’s right to freedom of worship. I’m assuming Simon reread what he wrote and thought – gee that keep quiet rather than defend the Constitution stuff sounds darn clever. Furthermore defending said founding document is a “blunder”.  I don’t know whether it is fair or even more damning to put Simon’s point in context – this blunder means President Obama is off message. It is not like anyone pays attention to what Simon has to say, but he does provide the opportunity to compare the kind of policies and behavior conservatives find acceptable. Things right-wing conservatives can do and which conservatives like Simon did not launch into some hyperbolic fit in response. From George W. Bush’s first two years in office:

* SEPTEMBER 2001 – WHITE HOUSE CREATES OFFICE TO CIRCUMVENT INTEL AGENCIES: The Pentagon creates the Office of Special Plans “in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, believed to be true-that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States??The rising influence of the Office of Special Plans was accompanied by a decline in the influence of the C.I.A. and the D.I.A. bringing about a crucial change of direction in the American intelligence community.” The office, hand-picked by the Administration, specifically “cherry-picked intelligence that supported its pre-existing position and ignoring all the rest” while officials deliberately “bypassed the government’s customary procedures for vetting intelligence.” [Sources: New Yorker, 5/12/03; Atlantic Monthly, 1/04; New Yorker, 10/20/03]

Bush 43 cut $35 million in funding for doctors to get advanced pediatric training. 2001

Bush 43 Cut funding for research into cleaner, more efficient cars and trucks by 28%. 2001

LINDSEY FIRED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT COSTS
“Top White House adviser Larry Lindsey [was fired] when he told a newspaper that an Iraq war could cost $200 billion.” – Christian Science Monitor, 12/17/02. The invasion of Iraq will ultimately cost about $3 trillion dollars. The Whitehouse had issued an estimate of $90 billion.

In August 2001 Bush receives a memo which warns Al Qaeda may launch an attach using commercial air planes. Bush ignores the warning. No notice to air lines. No reinforced cabin doors. No extra sky marshals. But Bush did not blunder and defend the 1st Amendment.

* FEBRUARY 6, 2002 – CIA SAYS IRAQ HAS NOT PROVIDED WMD TO TERRORISTS: “The Central Intelligence Agency has no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist operations against the United States in nearly a decade, and the agency is also convinced that President Saddam Hussein has not provided chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda or related terrorist groups, according to several American intelligence officials.” [Source: NY Times, 2/6/02] Bush and Republicans parlayed these myths include a campaign of fear. A campaign Republicans are still waging.

Dubya appointed John Negroponte — an unindicted high-level Iran Contra figure to the post of United Nations Ambassador.

Bush 43 closed the White House Office for Women’s Health Initiatives and Outreach. Part of Bush’s war on women and children.

ZINNI FIRED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY
“General Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine general who was Bush’s Middle East mediator, angered the White House when he told a foreign policy forum in October that Bush had far more pressing foreign policy priorities than Iraq and suggested there could be a prolonged, difficult aftermath to a war. He was not reappointed as Mideast envoy.” – Associated Press, 7/27/03

GENERAL DISPARAGED FOR TELLING TRUTH ABOUT TROOP LEVEL NEEDS
Despite the fact that it appears he was probably accurate, “Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz criticized the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, after Shinseki told Congress in February that the occupation could require ‘several hundred thousand troops.’ Wolfowitz called Shinseki’s estimate ‘wildly off the mark.’” – USA Today, 6/3/03. Today we still here about the myth of the great surge – the troops Bush did not send in the first place – a factor responsible for the deaths of many U.S. troops. A surge that did not work so much as coincide with the peak of ethics cleansing – or low level genocide of Iraqi Sunnis.

Some other, blunders if you will during Bush’s first term – the Bush Department of Justice bungled it’s first terrorist prosecution,  Halliburton’s connections to the White House, no bid contracts and subsequent fraud perpetuated on tax payers. $700 million Congress authorized for the war front in Afghanistan ends up going to Iraq preparations. Medicare actuary Richard Foster is threatened with being fired after he finds Bush’s infamous Medicare part D reform will cost far more than the White House and Congressional Republicans said it would.

A Republican president can be a serial liar, manipulate national security intelligence, use out troops as cannon fodder, fire and smear anyone that speaks the truth and not be condemned as a one term president. If only more people read Roger Simon. As a veteran conservative spinmeister he has reminded America how deranged and corrupt conservative values are.

London Twilight Skyline wallpaper and a Republinut News Round-up

city skylines

London Twilight Skyline wallpaper

The CBPP takes a look at the new and improved voodoo economics of Paul Ryan(R-WI) –  The Ryan Budget’s Radical Priorities, Provides Largest Tax Cuts in History for Wealthy, Raises Middle Class Taxes, Ends Guaranteed Medicare, Privatizes Social Security, Erodes Health Care

Ryan Plan’s Claims of Fiscal Responsibility Are Unfounded, Tax Policy Center’s Howard Gleckman Explains

“Word is getting around that CBO has blessed a major budget reform plan proposed by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) as, in the words of National Review Online, ‘a roadmap to solvency.’ It isn’t true.

“…. All this confusion is due to a letter written on Jan. 27 from CBO director Doug Elmendorf to Ryan. In that 50-page document, CBO suggests the plan could eliminate the deficit in 50 years and, even more impressively, eliminate the debt by 2080.

“But, and this caveat is a whopper, CBO assumed this wonderful outcome would occur only if the revenue portion of Ryan’s plan generated 19 percent of GDP in taxes. And there is not the slightest evidence that would happen. …. Rather than estimate the true revenue effects of the Ryan plan, CBO simply assumed, as the lawmaker requested, that it would generate revenues of 19 percent of GDP .”

The whole concept of having the CBO is non-partisan evaluation. We all know liberal is a dirty word in Wingnuttia, but non-partisan gets their knickers in a twist just as well. So for Republicans getting around the around non-partisan is a pickle unless you ask CBO to use your projections and then conveniently forget to mention CBO’s caveats when you get your projections back. It has been the case that as many working class Americans have gotten older they cross their fingers hoping they make it to Medicare eligibility age. This phenomenon is especially acute with a persistent recession. Ryan would undermine that hope – with a yet another huge tax break for the super wealthy,

People who become eligible for Medicare after 2020 would no longer have access to a defined set of benefits from any participating health care provider. Instead, they would receive a voucher worth $11,000 (on average) to be used to purchase private health insurance. Beneficiaries with incomes over $80,000 ($160,000 for a couple) would receive a voucher for half that amount or less. For those with incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line, Medicare also would contribute up to $6,600 to a Medical Savings Account. The proposal would also gradually increase the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 years to 69 years and 6 months over the period from 2022 to 2086.[15]

Insurers would be allowed to charge sicker Medicare beneficiaries higher premiums. Medicare would endeavor to adjust each person’s voucher annually to reflect his or her health status (which is difficult to do fully and accurately), with those in poorer health receiving a larger voucher and those in better health getting a smaller voucher. Since premiums would not be regulated, however, the adjustments to the voucher could well be insufficient to cover the higher premiums that insurers would charge to sicker people.

Moreover, the Ryan plan imposes no requirement that private insurers actually offer health coverage to Medicare beneficiaries at an affordable price, or at all. Some beneficiaries, particularly the frail elderly, people with disabilities, and those with very modest incomes, could end up uninsured or heavily underinsured.

The Ryan plan also establishes no specific standards for Medicare benefits. Seniors and people with disabilities would receive only whatever benefits they were able to buy in the private market with their voucher.[16] The private insurance plans that would be available to Medicare beneficiaries likely would vary widely. They would present a potentially bewildering set of choices to many people who are very old or frail.

As with the tax credit that would replace the tax exclusion for employer-based coverage, the value of the Medicare voucher would not keep pace with increases in the cost of health care and would grow increasingly inadequate over time.

Apparently Ryan, like every other conservative, believes you can keep putting new layers of lipstick on that old voodoo economics pig and no one will recognize it.

There is an old pop song called “Windmills Of Your Mind” that goes Round, like a circle in a spiral Like a wheel within a wheel. Never ending or beginning, On an ever spinning wheel. That wasn’t just poetic imaginary for Nevada far Right senatorial candidate Sharron Angle. It’s her state of mind: Here, There And Back Again: Sharron Angle’s Circular Journey On Phasing Out Social Security

Most have heard of the novel or movie based on the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In Conservative guru’s Bill Kristol’s case that would be the unbearable lightness of never feeling shame over being a war mongering liar, Bill Kristol Is Invited to Eat A Bag Of Salted Dicks

I’d just add one comment…

For Obama, 9/11 was a “deeply traumatic event for our country.” Traumatic events invite characteristic reactions and over-reactions–fearfulness, anger, even hysteria. That’s how Obama understands the source of objections to the Ground Zero mosque. It’s all emotional. The arguments don’t have to be taken seriously. The criticisms of the mosque are the emotional reactions of a traumatized people.

But Americans aren’t traumatized. 9/11 was an attack on America, to which Americans have responded firmly, maturely, and appropriately.

Kristol does deserve some credit for trying to write the narrative of everything that happens to or in the United States as a narrative which reads like a children’s book from the planet Zoldar. In another writer, from another planet who writes interstellar children’s books, that might be quite the accomplishment. Alas we’re here on earth with real people and real events, TBogg responds:

We’ll stop right here and point out that, no, America did not act “firmly, maturely, and appropriately” in the wake of 9/11. But, a traumatized America that, up until that time, thought it was “all that” was easily manipulated into being the blunt instrument of war that Bill Kristol and his chickenhawk buddies at PNAC had their hearts set on since the late 90’s. To them, the attack on 9/11 was the greatest fucking day of their lives because it gave them the causus belli fantasy that they had been masturbating to for years. Where we saw smoke and ash, death and destruction, they saw great  opportunity and heavenly providence. And a mere nine days after the destruction of the twin towers, while America was still digging through the rubble and tallying up the dead, PNAC presented a blueprint to President Bush that, surprisingly enough, looked an awful  lot like their Christmas wish list.

Peter King (R-NY) voted against the bill to give health care coverage to the 9/11 responders. But resorts to soap operaish histrionics to use them and their families to argue we should honor the 1st amendment when we fell like. Nadler Dismantles Right-Wing Arguments Against Mosque: ‘We Do Not Put The Bill Of Rights…Up To A Vote’. After Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, both conservative Republican Christians, bombed Oklahoma City we did not decide as a nation that Christianity was at fault and no  more churches should be built.

Forest Canopy Light wallpaper

Forest Canopy Light wallpaper

The Washington Post has this article listed as an “analysis”. It is fair and balanced analysis in the same sense Fox does fair and balanced. With the exception of a couple of columnists, they are well on their to becoming the Fox News of print media. In weekly address, Obama returns to campaign chestnut: Warning of threat to Social Security. This analysis of Nevada ultra right-wing senatorial candidate Sharron Angle’s position – flip-flopping – on Social Security stood out,

The issue of Social Security is already playing out in races across the country. In Nevada, Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R) has a new television ad in which she pledges to “save” the program and accuses her opponent, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), of “raiding” the retirement trust fund.

“We have a contract with our seniors who have put into Social Security in good faith,” Angle says in the ad. “I’d like to save Social Security by locking the lock box, putting the money back into the trust fund so the government can no longer raid our retirement.”

Angle’s ad comes after weeks of taking on water over the issue as Reid has repeatedly slammed her for past comments on Social Security. One Reid ad featured Angle saying, “We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out.”

Such back and forth is a microcosm of what Democrats hope will be a similar debate in races around the country about what to do next on Social Security.

To commemorate Sunday’s 75th anniversary of Social Security becoming law, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has released a list of 13 Republican Senate candidates expressing support for some form of privatization of the retirement system.

Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, accused Obama and the Democrats of dredging up old issues that are no longer valid.

Readers are lead to believe Senator Reid (D-NV) and Angle are just tossing a “campaign chestnut” around. Angle is on video calling for the privatization of Social Security and Medicare.  NV-Sen: Sharron Angle hits a grand slam for right-wing extremism. What does the article end with. The rest of RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s unchallenged lies about Social Security and Medicare. Rep. Paul Ryan’s infamous right-wing conservative Road Map – which includes dismantling Medicare as we know it and handing over a large swath of Social Security to the looters on Wall St – isn’t a “valid” campaign issue? Apparently not since the WaPo’s Michael D. Shear and Lori Montgomery did not deem it worthy of mention – GOP’s Paul Ryan Doubles Down on Medicare Rationing

When Ryan unveiled his Roadmap back in February, as Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias and TPM all noted, privatization of Medicare was the centerpiece. But because the value of Ryan’s vouchers fails to keep up with the out-of-control rise in premiums in the private health insurance market, America’s elderly would be forced to pay more out of pocket or accept less coverage.

[  ]…But the Republican plan to “slash and privatize” hardly ends there. Despite insistence by the Republican leadership that the party is not officially advocating it, the Ryan alternative budget follows Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s announced desire to privatize Medicare. As TPM documented:

Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-WI) the ranking Republican on the budget committee, recently detailed the Republican plan for Social Security that preserves the existing program for those 55 or older. For younger people the plan “offers the option of investing over one-third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees.”

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. After all, George W. Bush’s disastrous drive to privatize Social Security helped undermine his presidency. Now, in the wake of a Wall Street meltdown that evaporated the retirement savings for countless thousands of Americans, the Republican wunderkind Ryan is calling for an encore.

It is all chestnuts according to the wizbang analysts with the librul media.

Some dweeb conservative out in Denver – apparently hoping to be the next Sean Hannity of Republican Pravda joins the WaPo in hoping Americans don’t believe their lying eyes and ears – Who’s the radical?

And by radical, offbeat, wacky, crazy, insane and extreme, I mean candidates who aren’t even smart enough to understand that liberal sacred cows are off-limits.

Sure, you freaks are free to chatter on your blogs or at your Klan meetings about “privatizing” Social Security, or extending tax breaks for the “rich” (sorry, the super rich), or shutting down green energy boondoggles, or repealing “Obamacare” — but serious people simply don’t engage in extremist talk publicly unless they want to be ridiculed.

Democrats, fortunately, have a strategy in place to alert the citizenry to the . . . well, let’s just call it the “Rand Paul Menace.”

“The Republican Party agenda has become the Tea Party agenda, and vice versa,” Democratic Party chairman Tim Kaine recently explained.

The Dems have pulled together a helpful guide called “Tea Party Contract with America,” which, despite its various chilling exaggerations, is actually not an altogether awful agenda compared to the one being implemented in Washington.

The Klan crack – what passes for humor among the Villagers of Wingnuttia – is yet another denial that racism is not to be found at all in the Tea Smoker’s Club – Tea Party Supporters Harbor More Racial Resentment Than Other Conservatives. Extending the top-tier of the Bush tax cuts would increase the deficit by almost $700 billion dollars. The only people who don’t think that matters are the deficit peacocks like the Denver Hannity. Whether one looks at the Affordable Care Act (Health Insurance Reform) from a moral point of view or a dry economic POV, it is flirting with clown shoe insanity to talk about repealing it. The ACA will help bring down the deficit in real dollars faster and with less pain than any proposal put forth by Republicans. If some Republicans pundits think it’s “radical, offbeat, wacky, crazy, insane and extreme” to point out that inconvenient fact, that’s just another reason modern era conservative pundits are headed for the memory hole of history. The Denver writer dismisses the Democrat’s The Conservative Tea Party Contract on America because he claims it has no merit, as in no Republican is talking about doing the things listed on the Contract. One assumes he couldn’t be bothered to read the documentation at the bottom of the page – The Conservative Tea Party Contract on America

1. Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Health Insurance Reform)

Put insurance companies back in charge, repeal tax credits for small businesses, allow insurance companies to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions and to drop coverage when a person gets too sick and make prescription drugs for seniors less affordable.
2. Privatize Social Security or phase it out altogether

Turn the guaranteed retirement benefits of America’s seniors over to Wall Street CEOs by putting Social Security at risk in the stock market or, as some Republicans have called for, phase out Social Security altogether and end a program millions of American seniors rely on for their survival.
3. End Medicare as it presently exists

Phase out and end Medicare as it presently exists for future generations of seniors — ending Medicare’s guaranteed healthcare benefits for more than 40 million American seniors — and replace it with a voucher system which will result in higher premiums and fewer services for seniors.
4. Extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthy and big oil

At a cost of nearly $700 billion, extend the Bush tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and big oil, which are set to expire and which have and will continue to explode the federal budget deficit.
5. Repeal Wall Street Reform

Roll back the toughest consumer protections ever enacted, allow banks to continue to grow too big to fail, and ensure that predatory lenders continue to utilize their most abusive practices.
6. Protect those responsible for the oil spill and future environmental catastrophes

Cap liabilities for those responsible for environmental disasters like the Gulf oil spill and let companies like BP decide which victims deserve compensation for the disaster and what the timeline for relief should be.
7. Abolish the Department of Education

1) Position taken by: House Republican Leader John Boehner [The Hill, 4/12/10], Rep. Paul Ryan [The Hill, 1/14/09], Rep. Mike Pence [Politico, 4/14/10], Rep. Steve King [Boston Globe, 3/22/10], FL Senate Candidate Marco Rubio[Marco Rubio release, 1/14/10], Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Jeff Flake [Politico, 1/14/09]

2) Position taken by: Rep. Paul Ryan [Wall Street Journal, 1/26/10], Indiana Senate Candidate Dan Coats [Weekly Standard, 5/12/10], Rep. Jeb Hensarling [Politico, 2/2/10], Rep. Michele Bachmann[TPM, 2/9/10], Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and Rep. Rep. Marsha Blackburn [TPM, 2/9/10]

3) Position taken by: Rep. Paul Ryan [Rep. Paul Ryan op-ed, WSJ, 4/1/09], Rep. Bob Inglis And Rep. Jeff Flake [TPM, 3/3/10], Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and Rep. Rep. Marsha Blackburn [TPM, 2/9/10], Rep. Jeb Hensarling [Politico, 2/2/10], 2009 House Republican Budget [AP, 4/1/09]

4) Position taken by: Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell [TPM, 7/13/10], Sen. John Kyl [The Hill, 6/27/10], FL Senate candidate Marco Rubio [Fox News, 6/28/10], Sen. Tom Coburn [C-SPAN, 7/14/10], Sen. Judd Gregg [TPM, 7/13/10], Sen. Chuck Grassley [McClatchy, 7/14/10], CA Senate candidate Carly Fiorina [Calitics, 7/12/10]

5) Position taken by: House Republican Leader John Boehner [CNN, 7/15/10], Rep. Mike Pence [Politico, 7/21/10], Sen. Lamar Alexander [TPM, 7/15/10], Sen. Saxby Chambliss [Fox News, 7/16/10], Sen. Richard Shelby [ABC News, 7/16/10], Senate Candidate Dino Rossi [The Hill, 7/27/10]

6) Position taken by: Sen. Judd Gregg and Sen. David Vitter [McClatchy, 6/9/10], House Republican Leader John Boehner [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 6/29/10], Rep. Joe Barton [TPM, 6/17/10], Sen. John Cornyn [TPM, 6/17/10], Rep. Roy Blunt [News Leader, 6/22/10], Rep. Trent Franks [Rep Franks release, 6/18/10], Rep. Steve King [The Hill, 6/21/10], Rep. Ralph Hall [Dallas Morning News, 6/19/10], Rep. Michele Bachmann [Fox News, 6/16/10], 114-Member Republican Study Committee [TPM, 6/16/10]

7) Position taken by: KY Senate candidate Rand Paul [Lexington Herald-Leader, 4/6/10] [Bowling Green Daily News, 4/14/2010], NV Senate candidate Sharron Angle [Nevada News and Views, 3/22/10], Colorado Senate Candidate Jane Norton [Colorado Independent, 12/15/09], Maine Republican Party Platform [Maine Politics, 5/10/10]

The other issues and documentation are at the link. Neither the ones I have posted or the others are anywhere close to mainstream positions. Ezra Klein takes a look at the consequences of the radical conservative attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, A Prescription for Ruin – If the least-popular parts of health-care reform are repealed, we could end up with its cost controls wrecked but its spending intact

I’ve got some good news for deficit hawks: earlier this year, Congress passed legislation reducing the deficit by about $125 billion over the next 10 years. But, as they say on the infomercials, that’s not all! The bill cuts the deficit by $1.3 trillion in the second decade. That more than pays for every dollar we’ve spent on stimulus since 2008. The bill also sets up a new—and actually credible—system to keep Medicare’s costs under control. So hear that, fiscal conservatives? Hear that, bond markets? This is progress, baby. We’ll lick our deficit problem, yet.

The bill in question is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as health-care reform. The numbers come from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. But as always, there’s a catch: the savings arrive only if the policies behind the savings are allowed to do their jobs. And in the GOP’s zeal to repeal a bill it considers a deficit-busting nightmare, Republicans are focusing their fire on the parts they should like: the cost controls.

On July 27, Sen. Jon Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Health Care Bureaucrats Elimination Act, cosponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Pat Roberts (R-Kans.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). The legislation doesn’t seek to repeal health-care reform (though many Republicans would also like to do that). Instead, it takes aim at perhaps its most promising cost control: the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

What many Americans have begun to realize – since the dust has settled from the tea nut freak-out last year – is there is a lot of good reforms in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: tax credits for small businesses, stopping the insurance company death panels from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions, making prescription drugs for seniors less affordable and in this tough times letting the kids stay on their parents insurance until they are 26. Some pollster at the RNC has to be aware of these popular reforms and the positive effects on the long term deficit. So how to tear down health care reform without appearing to? A sidewinder attack on the measures that do control costs; sabotage the creation of the IPAB.

Right-wing conservatives continue to give religion a bad name – In Brief: Conservative Columnist Cal Thomas Says the Terrorists Are Right

…The entirely straight Thomas writes, regarding the Proposition 8 decision in California, “A nation that loses its moral sense is a nation without any sense at all. Muslim fanatics who wish to destroy us are correct in their diagnosis of our moral rot: loss of a fear of God, immodesty, especially among women, materialism and much more.”

You got that? The Muslim terrorists are right. Even though he follows it up with “their solution — Sharia law — is wrong,” he adds, “they are not wrong about what ails us.” ( emphasis mine)

I wonder if Cal has a garage full of stones at the ready to help America get on with his and Islamic  fundamentalist’s idea of the high moral road. It is also always entertaining to hear a conservative – the religion of materialists – attack materialism.

The Myth of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Barney Frank, the Housing Bubble and the Recession

Jeff Dunetz at Big Government must have passed the right-wing media journalism test. He follows in the same hollowed ethical standards as Andrew Breitbart himself, James O’Keefe and Kevin Pezzi. Dunetz swears this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but – Blame Barney Frank for the Recession, Not George Bush

Frank aggressively fought reform efforts by the Bush administration. He told The New York Times on Sept. 11, 2003, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s problems were “exaggerated.” Exaggerated? Thanks to Fannie and Freddie the housing market collapsed and we fell into this “great recession.”

That paragraph is 99% meaningless nonsense. Republicans controlled the House in 2003 and Tom The hammer Delay of K-Street infamy was House Majority Leader. The House, unlike the Senate is ruled by simple majority. Delay controlled the agenda and Bush 43 was in the White House. Frank could have set himself on fire and still had absolutely zero effect on any Republican attempts to legislate new regulations or create regulatory reform. Fannie and Freddie did not cause the housing bubble or the Great Recession. The numbers don’t add up. In addition Fannie and Freddie did not have that kind of power. Most of their loans were not subprime.

Start with the most basic fact of all: virtually none of the $1.5 trillion of cratering subprime mortgages were backed by Fannie or Freddie. That’s right — most subprime mortgages did not meet Fannie or Freddie’s strict lending standards. All those no money down, no interest for a year, low teaser rate loans? All the loans made without checking a borrower’s income or employment history? All made in the private sector, without any support from Fannie and Freddie.

Look at the numbers. While the credit bubble was peaking from 2003 to 2006, the amount of loans originated by Fannie and Freddie dropped from $2.7 trillion to $1 trillion. Meanwhile, in the private sector, the amount of subprime loans originated jumped to $600 billion from $335 billion and Alt-A loans hit $400 billion from $85 billion in 2003. Fannie and Freddie, which wouldn’t accept crazy floating rate loans, which required income verification and minimum down payments, were left out of the insanity.

Fannie and Freddie were not completely innocent they basically started having special sales Fannie’s “Expanded Approval” and Freddie’s “A Minus”- all under Bush’s watch and as Republicans controlled the House 1997 to 2005 ( the place where Frank has super duper legislative powers).

In the video below Frank sits in a 9/10/03 House Financial Services Committee hearing and says Fannie and Freddie are sound, and there is no housing disaster coming.

Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there’s a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios. ( from the BG piece)

Once again lots of words by Frank and possibly misguided, but no link between Frank and any action he took to stop regulation. He literally would have to have super powers to stop Republicans. Is the Big Government writer suggested that the Republican majority did not have the moral will power to to withstand Frank’s words. The Republican Congress of 2003 passed any bill it wanted with simple majority votes. If Fannie or Freddie were out of control they could have reigned them in. As a matter of fact the NYT article BG links to does not say Freddie or Fannie were in trouble over leading practices such as being extended beyond their collateral, but because of accounting shenanigans,

The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt — is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.

”There is a general recognition that the supervisory system for housing-related government-sponsored enterprises neither has the tools, nor the stature, to deal effectively with the current size, complexity and importance of these enterprises,” Treasury Secretary John W. Snow told the House Financial Services Committee in an appearance with Housing Secretary Mel Martinez, who also backed the plan.

Mr. Snow said that Congress should eliminate the power of the president to appoint directors to the companies, a sign that the administration is less concerned about the perks of patronage than it is about the potential political problems associated with any new difficulties arising at the companies.

The administration’s proposal, which was endorsed in large part today by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, would not repeal the significant government subsidies granted to the two companies. And it does not alter the implicit guarantee that Washington will bail the companies out if they run into financial difficulty; that perception enables them to issue debt at significantly lower rates than their competitors. Nor would it remove the companies’ exemptions from taxes and antifraud provisions of federal securities laws.

Here we are again with a right-wing ideologue either not reading the piece he linked to, not understanding what it says and/or hoping no one goes over to analyze what it says. Republicans controlled Congress. They held the committee chairs. Republicans made no objection to guaranteeing Freddie or Fannie against failure or against continuing to subsidize both entities. But based on the crackerjack evidence supplied by BG, Barney Frank is singularly responsible for the Great Recession because of some words that he uttered while in the minority party. In 2003 neither Fannie or Freddie looked like they were in much trouble. AIG, Goldman-Sachs and Merrill-Lynch all looked like they were in good shape too. Paul Krugman wrote in the summer of 2008,

But here’s the thing: Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending a few years ago, an explosion that dwarfed the S.& L. fiasco. In fact, Fannie and Freddie, after growing rapidly in the 1990s, largely faded from the scene during the height of the housing bubble.

Partly that’s because regulators, responding to accounting scandals at the companies, placed temporary restraints on both Fannie and Freddie that curtailed their lending just as housing prices were really taking off. Also, they didn’t do any subprime lending, because they can’t: the definition of a subprime loan is precisely a loan that doesn’t meet the requirement, imposed by law, that Fannie and Freddie buy only mortgages issued to borrowers who made substantial down payments and carefully documented their income.

So whatever bad incentives the implicit federal guarantee creates have been offset by the fact that Fannie and Freddie were and are tightly regulated with regard to the risks they can take. You could say that the Fannie-Freddie experience shows that regulation works.

Freddie Mac Fannie May fraction of loans held

As I mentioned before Fannie and Freddie may have cheated a bit with their discount loans, but enough to sink the entire economy and at Rep’ Franks direction? You have to be high on wing-nut loon juice to believe that. It is incumbent on BG to provide proof, not anecdotal sound bites out of context to make a case. Bloggers are not lawyers or logicians – at least most of us aren’t, but it is best practices to document one’s accusations.

I think we can give Fannie and Freddie their due share of responsibility for the mess we’re in, while acknowledging that they were nowhere near the biggest culprits in the recent credit bubble. They may finance most of the home loans in America, but most of the home loans in America aren’t the problem; the problem is that very substantial slice of home loans that went outside the Fannie and Freddie box. But Krugman is right to focus on the fact that it was the regulatory and charter constraints of the GSEs that kept that box closed.

This report by the New York Federal Reserve also documents the much larger role of private lenders rather than GSEs ( Fannie and Freddie are government sponsored enterprises).

New York Federal Reserve and list of subprime private lenders

The primary thing to take away from the chart is it supports Krugman, Newsweek and Calculated Risks assessments that Freddie and Fannie were small fry in the housing bubble collapse. With so much documentation available on the web at sites like the NY Feds why didn’t BG use those sources. While Freddie and Fannie are odd ducks – being private, but government sponsored – they make great targets for the pro no bid contracts crowd. Those that think Halliburton and Blackwater worked out swell think any institution remotely related to government is a good place to lay off blame. They feel they get bonus points if they can somehow wrap up a Democrat in the mess even if most of the damage was accruing under a Republican Congress and president. Greenspan: Fed policy not to blame for crisis

Greenspan said demand from the government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac inflated the housing bubble. He said the government policy of encouraging homeownership pushed Fannie and Freddie to create demand for risky loans. Those firms play a vital role in the mortgage market by buying up mortgage loans and packaging them into bonds that are resold to global investors.

But Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said the Greenspan Fed’s decision not to set national mortgage lending standards was a key factor in the housing bubble — far more so than Fannie and Freddie.

Zandi noted that countries like Canada and Germany with tighter regulations largely avoided the bust, while countries that followed the U.S. model of light regulation fell into crisis.

“The Federal Reserve had that authority,” Zandi said in an interview. “They just never acted on it. That was a clear policy decision.”

Zandi also rebutted Greenspan’s argument that his Fed’s low-interest-rate policy played no role.

“The aggressive monetary policy in the wake of the tech bubble contributed to the inflating of the housing bubble,” Zandi said. “There’s strong evidence that the Federal Reserve kept interest rates too low for too long.”

For those not acquainted with the religion of Conservonomics, the hierarchy of their gods goes from Milton Friedman near the top with Alan Greenspan at his right arm. To Greenspan’s credit – unlike Big Government and other far Right web dens spreading the Fannie/Freddie/Frank myth – he displayed some humility by admitting he had made some mistakes. Rep. Barney Frank did defend himself in this column not long ago, Is There an Antidote to the Republican Amnesia?

And as described in the most reputable published sources, in 2005 I in fact worked together with my Republican colleague Michael Oxley, then Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, to write a bill to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We passed the bill out of committee with an overwhelming majority — every Democrat voted in favor of the legislation. However, on the House floor the Republican leadership added a poison pill amendment, which would have prevented non-profit institutions with religious affiliations from receiving funds. I voted against the legislation in protest, though I continued to work with Mr. Oxley to encourage the Senate to pass a good bill. But these efforts were defeated because President Bush blocked further consideration of the legislation. In the words of Mr. Oxley, no flaming liberal, the Bush administration gave his efforts ‘the one-finger salute.’

[  ]…Under Republican President George W. Bush, many federal agencies turned a blind eye to activities which would later precipitate the global financial meltdown. The Securities and Exchange Commission decided to allow the nation’s largest financial institutions to “self-regulate;” the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan declined to use its power to regulate subprime mortgages; the Comptroller of the Currency decided to preempt state consumer laws on subprime mortgages.

Meanwhile, President Bush himself demanded that Fannie and Freddie increase the percentage of subprime loans they purchased, supposedly because of his belief in an “ownership society.” Incidentally, increased lending to subprime borrowers would also fuel astronomical profits by the financial services industry. ( those would be the “Expanded Approval” and Freddie’s “A Minus”)

[   ]…Forgotten too is the significant progress that was made after the 2006 elections, when the Republicans in Congress were repudiated by American voters.

Ironically, this is the period in which I and my Democratic colleagues actually did possess the magical power needed to make real change in Washington — we became the majority party. In March 2007, just two months after I became the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee for the first time, I moved quickly to forge a bill which would regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill passed the House in May, with all 223 Democrats voting for it, and 103 Republicans voting against it. President Bush later signed that legislation into law.

Later in 2007, I introduced legislation to restrict subprime mortgages. The bill passed the Financial Services Committee and the House, but it did not pass the Senate, where because of the filibuster rule, the Republican minority actually does have the power to hobble the majority. The bill passed the full House with all 227 Democrats and 64 Republicans voting for it, and 127 Republicans voting against.

One last fact and logic question asked and answered, Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac Thought Experiment II

There certainly are legitimate criticisms of the GSEs — they were cesspool of fraud and bad judgment — which is why we told clients in 2007 to short Fannie Mae. And several academics and independent analysts have excoriated Fannie for its failings, separately from and long before the economic collapse.

But I digress. Here is my Fannie Mae thought experiment:

The Facts: Its 1995, and the private securitization market has developed on its own. Fannie Mae looks around, and notices that they are not really all that necessary anymore. Wall Street had become a securitizer of not just mortgages, but student loans, credit card receivables, auto loans.

The Hypothetical Counter-Factual: So the CEO of Fannie announces they were going to sell off their mortgage portfolio, dissolve,, returning their capital to shareholders.

Question: Would the Housing boom and bust have occurred? What about the credit bubble? Derivative crisis? Abdication of lending standards? Leverage increases to Wall Street? Misaligned Compensation packages?

Unless your answer is NO to all of these, than its impossible to blame Fannie Mae for the collapse . . .

Separately the housing bubble and the Great Recession are complicated. Though not so complicated that they cannot be understood. Lumping them together, throwing in a some spinlicous conspiracy along with Rep. Frank and the low information voters that troll Big Government get their daily dose of Pravda. The same low information voters who by their votes enabled the shoddy regulation, mindless deregulation and unenforced regulation which brought us the Great Recession. These are not a group of people known for their maturity about accepting responsibility so they’ll swallow whatever delusions are pushed in their way.

MYTH: Congressional Democrats, led by Barney Frank, opposed strengthening oversight over Fannie and Freddie

* In 2005, Frank, then the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, worked with committee chairman Rep. Michael Oxley (R-OH) on the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005, which would have established the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to replace the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) as overseer of the activities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. After voting for the bill in committee, Frank voted against final passage of the bill on the House floor, stating that he was doing so because an amendment to the bill on the House floor imposed restrictions on the kinds of nonprofit organizations that could receive funding under the bill.

* In early 2007, as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank sponsored H.R. 1427, a bill to create the FHFA, granting that agency “general supervisory and regulatory authority over” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and directing it to reform the companies’ business practices and regulate their exposure to credit and market risk. Among other things, Frank’s legislation, titled the “Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007,” directed the FHFA director to “ensure” that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “operate[] in a safe and sound manner, including maintenance of adequate capital and internal controls” and to establish standards for “management of credit and counterparty risk” and “management of market risk.” The FHFA was eventually created after Congress incorporated provisions that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said were “similar” to those of H.R. 1427 into the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which the president signed into law on July 30.

O’Reilly advanced falsehood that “the Democrats in charge of the finance committees” resisted regulating mortgage industry

On The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly falsely claimed that “the Democrats in charge of the finance committees” resisted efforts by the Bush administration to regulate the mortgage industry and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in particular. In fact, it was only after the Democrats did gain control of both “finance committees” in Congress in 2007 that Congress passed legislation strengthening oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Update: Article dated 08-21-10. Top Dems Break With Treasury Over Fannie, Freddie Losses

Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, sent a letter to the White House Friday, demanding the Federal Housing Finance Administration [FHFA] use all the powers at its disposal to recover some of the roughly $150 billion taxpayers lost to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through bad loans purchased from private banks.

[   ]…Frank writes in his letter to Obama:

The losses suffered by Fannie and Freddie have created great cost for the taxpayers–almost $150 billion to date. These losses largely result from business decisions during the bubble years that were honest but flawed. Taxpayers have continued to suffer anew for poor underwriting by these companies during the bubble years.

However, some of these losses result from deception. Private companies sold Fannie and Freddie loans or securities based on fraudulent documents. These transactions created private profits at public expense, and they should be fought with every tool at the companies’ and the agency’s disposal. These deals must not be allowed to get lost in the shuffle.

I have been pleased at the steps both the FHFA and the companies have taken so far, but it must continue. The extraordinary measures taken to stabilize the financial system over the last two years were done for the benefit of ordinary Americans. We owe it to them to make every effort to make sure that the money is not diverted instead into the pockets of others. I hope you will continue to keep this in mind as you chart the future of FHFA and these companies.

Again, Freddie and Fannie are caught up in the storm, but it was the private sector that engaged in fraud and deception.

update II: Conservatives Can’t Escape Blame for the Financial Crisis

As the FCIC staff reports demonstrate fairly conclusively, it was the shadow banking system’s unregulated private securitization of mortgages that caused the financial crisis, not affordable housing policies. The FCIC staff has done an excellent job of compiling the facts, and we encourage you to check out the FCIC’s comprehensive reports to date. In our view, below are their most persuasive arguments,
Look at the market share

The market activities of the relevant parties clearly show the problem with the argument made by the minority FCIC members. The market shares of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and CRA-regulated lending institutions dropped tremendously during the housing bubble. Meanwhile, the market share of private mortgage securitization, which the FCIC majority largely blames for the crisis, and which the FCIC minority completely ignores, grew in lockstep with the rise of the housing bubble.

The relative market share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped fairly dramatically during the 2000s bubble, from a high of 57 percent of all new mortgage originations in 2003, down to 37 percent at the height of the bubble in 2005 and 2006. Notably, this decline occurred contemporaneously with the unsupported rise in housing prices and the deterioration in underwriting standards that virtually all observers blame for the collapse of the housing markets.

Mortgages originated for private securitization defaulted at much higher rates than those originated for Fannie and Freddie securitization

 

 

update 11-18-2012, Republican Federal Reserve Chair: Discriminatory Lending Made Housing Crisis Worse For Minorities

Discriminatory lending policies made the housing crisis worse for African-American and Latino borrowers, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a financial summit held Thursday in Atlanta. The housing crisis and economic slump followed the “unfortunate pattern” of “disproportionately affecting” minorities, Bernanke said, pointing to the fact that black home ownership rates have fallen five percentage points in the last eight years, compared to just a two percent drop for the general population.

Two major discriminatory actions made the crisis worse for minorities, Bernanke said:

“One is redlining, in which mortgage lenders discriminate against minority neighborhoods, and the other is pricing discrimination, in which lenders charge minorities higher loan prices than they would to comparable nonminority borrowers,” Bernanke said.

“We remain committed to vigorous enforcement of the nation’s fair lending laws,” he added.

Studies have shown that blacks and Latinos were twice as likely to have been affected by the housing crisis as white borrowers, largely for the reasons Bernanke outlined. Many minority borrowers were pushed into riskier, more expensive subprime loans even though they qualified for lower-interest prime mortgages. Subprime loans, which can add $100,000 to the price over the life of the mortgage, were given to 30.9 percent of Latinos and 41.5 percent of blacks, compared to just 17.8 percent of whites.

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, paid $175 million to settle discriminatory lending charges in July, and other mortgage companies have been fined and ordered to pay settlements to homeowners they discriminated against.

Blue Rain wallpaper, Ryan’s Road Map Hoax Continues

Blue Rain wallpaper

An update to this post on the back and forth between Paul Road map Ryan and economist Paul Krugman, Ryan replied and Krugman blasts him for continuing to be deceptive, Doubletalk Express

Notice that Ryan does not address the issue of the zero nominal growth assumption, and how that assumption — not entitlement reforms — is the key to his alleged spending cuts by 2020.

Whether Ryan could or could not get a nearly century long estimate of his tax projections from the Congressional JCT (The Joint Committee on Taxation) or as Ryan and the Atlantic’s Megan McArdle claim the JCT refused to do a ten year projection, the above fact still stands. Much of the Right’s defense of Ryan thus far consists of Krugman is being mean. That’s debatable and irrelevant at that. This is part of Ryan’s reply,

The Tax Policy Center analysis covers a 10-year period, but the Roadmap is a long-term plan with spending and revenue projections covering 75 years. As such, the analysis is not consistent with the long-term horizon of the plan. Staff originally asked CBO to do a long-term analysis of both the tax and spending provisions in the Roadmap. However, CBO declined to do a revenue analysis of the tax plan, citing that it did not want to infringe on the traditional jurisdiction of the JCT. JCT, however, does not have the capability at this time to provide longer-term revenue estimates (i.e. beyond 10 years) [my emphasis]. Given these functional constraints for an official analysis, staff relied on its original work with the Treasury Department and other tax experts to formulate a reasonable expected path for long-term revenues given the tax policies in the Roadmap combined with the economic growth projections available at the time.

Ryan had the clear opportunity to flatly state the JCT refused to do a 10 year estimate, but he did not. There is no evidence at this date which supports the assertion the JCT refused to do a ten year estimate. The Weakly Standard ( one of the five worse right-wing disinformation sites on the net) has posted this defense of Ryan, Ryan Rips Krugman: ‘Intellectually Lazy’ and ‘Bizarre’ Attack, Congressman Paul Ryan disputes NY Times columnist’s claims on taxes, spending, and Medicare. BY John McCormack

Krugman wrote on his blog on Saturday that “Ryan could have gotten JCT to do a 10-year estimate; it just wouldn’t go beyond that. And he chose not to get that 10-year estimate.” Ryan says that’s not true. “We asked Joint Tax to do it,” Ryan told me. “They said they couldn’t. They don’t do them long-term outside the 10 year window. They couldn’t do it in the first 10 years because of just how busy they were.” Ryan says Krugman could have cleared this confusion up with a simple phone call. “Megan McArdle figured it out on her own,” Ryan said, referring to a blog post by The Atlantic’s business and economics editor.

Suddenly the JCT could not do an estimate. And Ryan suggests they don’t need no stink’n JCT anyway because “experts at the Treasury Department ” have said his plan meets his target. The JCT estimate is either important or it’s not. The JCT refused to do an estimate or it did not. Ryan’s numbers as he put them down – Ryan’s Road Map – which the Weakly Standard is defending has been estimated to have the same deficit as the path we are on now. Maybe worse. Ryan’s numbers are a fraud in regards Medicare and taxes on the middle-class will go up ( if facts like that are mean and hurt Ryan’s feelings than gee I’m sorry). TWS knows a little about flimflaming itself. This is what they write in defense of Ryan’s tax increases,

The Tax Policy Center claims that compared to current law (with all Bush tax cuts expiring), Ryan’s plan would reduce taxes for most Americans. But compared to current policy (extending the Bush tax cuts for most workers and patching the Alternative Minimum Tax every year), the Tax Policy Center says Americans earning between $20,000 and $200,000 per year would see their federal taxes increase 0.9 percent to 1.7 percent. ( TWS had described The tax Polict Center in a previous paragraph as Liberal. Not true they are a non-partisan tax policy think-tank. Ironic they’re damning them as reliable partisans one minute than using their numbers the next)

When you average Ryan’s tax cuts – which are not evenly distributed across income groups – then you get that nice apparently minuscule increase of 1.7 percent. That’s called a con job, a flimflam, a lie hidden in numbers. You do not get into making claims with numbers like that accidentally, you must have malicious intent to deceive the reader. The big picture, the bottom line, the most generous one can be is Ryan’s Road map is not ready for prime time. It doesn’t matter who did the revenue estimates or the spending estimates. If Ryan’s plan was handed in as homework he’d get an incomplete at best. He uses some doublepseak we’ve come to expect from politicians, but even Ryan admits as much,

“Nobody knows the answer to this, by the way, if TPC is right or if the data we got from Treasury was right,” said Ryan, who thinks Treasury’s numbers are “closer” to reality. “The point is this: we made a full effort to hit revenue targets. They may hit the revenue targets and TPC may be wrong.

Ryan said that if the Treasury Department’s analysis lowballed the revenue needed, there are “plenty of different ways” you “can tweak the rates and the numbers” so the numbers add up.

So Ryan wants the teacher to keep handing back his paper with suggestions (tweaks) for corrections until the paper is ready for an actual grade. This is the guy calling Krugman “intellectually lazy”. Maybe Ryan shouldn’t hand the public a half-ass rough draft and pretend like it’s got all the answers and lame web sites like TWS shouldn’t rush to his defense armed with partisan hackery instead of facts.

In related news, Conservanomics: A Church Without Bishops (But it’s Got Sarah Palin and Invisible Tax Fairies!)

The political voice of the Palin/Santelli intellectual movement is Rep. Paul Ryan, who has issued a “Roadmap for America’s Future.” As Krugman explains, “nobody checks his arithmetic.” Krugman calls Ryan a “Flimflam Man,” and the reasons he gives for that harsh assessment are persuasive. The core of Krugman’s takedown is this: Ryan’s plan won’t “cut the deficit in half,” despite claims to that effect. In fact, a nonpartisan group says it would reduce revenue by almost $4 trillion over the next ten years. Krugman:

“The Tax Policy Center finds that the Ryan plan would cut taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population in half, giving them 117 percent of the plan’s total tax cuts. That’s not a misprint. Even as it slashed taxes at the top, the plan would raise taxes for 95 percent of the population.”

That’s a perfect snapshot of the Republican Conservanomic agenda: Expand an already-massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to wealthy Americans. Let America’s government and infrastructure collapse for lack of funding. And fool the people by pretending that Magical Tax Fairies will wave their wands and make everything all right.

We tried the tax cutting our way into prosperity – not even ultra conservatives Alan Greenspan or David Stockman worship at that church anymore. They’re not Keynesians by any means, but at least they’re not reinventing Bushnomics and relabeling it “Road map”. One of the things, dogmas actually, of the cult of Conservonomics is this grotesque devotion to protecting the extraordinary wealth of those that live off the labor of others, To Have and Have Not – Ranks of Millionaires, Impoverished Both Are Climbing, Data Shows the Gap Separating the Richest and Poorest Americans Continues to Widen

Yet, according to a newly released report from wealth tracking consultants Capgemini, the number of millionaires across ten major U.S. metropolitan areas increased 17.5 percent in 2009 over 2008. New York City has the most millionaires, 667,000, up 18.7 percent.

That Obama socialism – where he was going to redistribute wealth downward – does not seem to be working out too well.