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Today, four former CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac testified before the on how their companies’ actions may have “contributed to the ongoing crisis.” Blaming Fannie, Freddie, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and low-income people is one of conservatives’ favorite talking points. In September, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) touted an article criticizing the CRA for pushing “Fannie and Freddie to aggressively lend to minority communities.”

But as the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo points out, at the beginning of today’s hearing, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said that 400,000 documents amassed by the committee showed that the right-wing claim is nothing more than a conservative myth. Later in the hearing, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) asked the four CEOs whether poor people caused the current financial crisis. All said “no”:

    Richard Syron, former Freddie CEO: “I would think that it wasn’t mostly trying to do things for poor people.”
    Daniel Mudd, former Fannie CEO: “[W]hen the market goes down, it’s the folks who are the closest to the margin who — who get hurt first and longest every time.”
    Leland Brendsel, former Freddie CEO: “I cannot recall ever being forced to make — or to purchase a mortgage loan that I didn’t feel, as a matter of policy at Freddie Mac, was a good mortgage loan, a sound mortgage loan, and an attractive mortgage loan for the homebuyer or the owner of an apartment building.”
    Franklin Raines, former Fannie CEO: “I do not believe that poor people are the cause of the current financial crisis. … Most of the losses, as I read the record, have come on mortgages that were made to middle-class and upper-middle-class people, not to poor people.”

Watch it:

Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, requiring banks “to lend throughout the communities they serve.” In the 1990s, greater mortgage lending to lower-income households by CRA-coveed banks increased the homeownership rate for lower-income and minority families. As CAP scholar Tim Westrich has written, “The real culprits in the mortgage mess are non-bank mortgage companies — not covered by CRA — that originated the lion’s share of bad mortgages at the heart of the crisis. They made an estimated 50 percent of subprime loans in 2005.”

Numerous other scholars, including Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman and Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker, have also explained that while Fannie and Freddie made many bad decisions, they weren’t primarily to blame for the financial crisis. At a hearing in September, former top government economic experts agreed that conservatives were pushing myths, rather than facts.

Source: Think Progress

 

John McCain and his wife – are in a unique group in America – their wealth means that they fall into the top 1% – 2% income gap. His big idea – is that the wealthiest should have more – in order – to in a father-like fashion – have some of their wealth trickle down – to all the social classes below.

It is with this thought that – John McCain believes that the 3% tax increase that Obama intends to put on earnings/profits over $250,000 – that existed during the Clinton era – the same era that saw the biggest economic expansion in US history – that is tax code is equivalent to socialism, welfare and a government hand out.

Even today as the U.S. Treasury is being pillaged by corporate America, there has been an absence of any significant economic middle class(*) backlash here in America. As the wealth gap between the middle class and upper class has increased more than any time in our history, Americans seem to be mostly helpless in stemming this trend toward inequality.

Will the tide finally turn during an Obama Presidency? After analyzing Obama’s economic positions (including health care, tax policies and budgeting), most economists say “yes!”

After eight years of the Bush Presidency, McCain style deregulation and tax policy that favors the rich, the American middle class has been taken hostage and told they will lose everything (trickle down financial ruin) if they do not bailout the big banks, investment firms and insurance companies. Bush & Cheney have perfected the panic mode wealth transfer that Naomi Klein describes so well in “The Shock Doctrine.” This multi-trillion-dollar parting gift is their payback to the upper class that helped orchestrate their election.

the wealth gap between the middle class and upper class has increased more than any time in our history

The U.S. Treasury gained support for the bailouts by promising stricter rules on grossly excessive executive compensation. But now we find out that financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks — the greedy ones that got us into this mess in the first place — are going to receive payouts worth more than $70 billion and, according to the Guardian, “… a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year – despite plunging the financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash.”

Last year, for instance, Merrill Lynch’s chairman Stan O’Neal took a golden parachute deal worth over $160 million, after announcing losses of nearly $8 billion at his firm. Did Mr. O’neal’s labor bankrupting Merrill Lynch really justify $159,935,000 more dollars from society than a teacher or fireman?

The politics of capitalism attempts to fool us into believing in extreme individualism –e.g., that every man is an island. But, the truth (starkly exposed by Mainstreet needing to bailout Wallstreet) is that we are closely interconnected even if worlds apart in wealth and influence. Mr. O’Neal taking $160 million out of the money system to spend on extravagances, does effect the teacher and fireman via the national debt they will incur to bailout Mr. O’Neal / Merrill Lynch.

we find out that financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks — the greedy ones that got us into this mess in the first place — are going to receive payouts worth more than $70 billion

Where did the billions of dollars lost by the banks go? Did the money just evaporate? No. Most of it went to these huge CEO and executive payouts to expand the obscene wealth of the upper class. Someone has to pay for the mega-yachts, extravagant parties, multiple mansions and other extravagances of the rich. If you want to see where your money is going, just tune into “Lifestyles of the Super Rich.”

Once again, responsible hard-working citizens are paying for the lavish lifestyles and reckless financial abandon of the upper class. How ironic that the same institutions that have been feeding off the middle class like leeches for decades (via unreasonable fees, large interest rate spreads, insurance rate hikes, hyped-up investment schemes, etc.), are now begging for more blood money.

The middle class and poor get crumbs from measly “bailouts” such as the lackluster sub-prime mortgage assistance program and a tax rebate check for $600; while the rich get more tangible bailouts to the tune of billions. Capitalism for the middle class, socialism for the rich, indeed! This is what you get when corrupt Republicans and the Corporate sociopathic personality rule the economy. One of the ways to change this dynamic is to remove corporation’s status as a separate entity unbound by individual consequences and place more responsibility on the executives that direct corporate actions.

though the “upper middle class,” “lower middle class,” “working class,” and “lower class,” combine to make up 99% of the United States population, the remaining 1% owns about one third of private wealth.

We need to end the the welfare era for the rich via tax cuts, Halliburton / war “no bid” handouts, oil company gouging and corporate bailouts. Instead, the American government needs to lift the middle class with investments in education, job training, energy independence (from domestic oil companies too!), health care and economic programs such as small business development and tangible mortgage assistance.

The only choice for fiscal conservatives in this election is Obama. By electing Obama POTUS and other fiscally sympathetic representatives, the middle class can then exercise its newfound power over insurance companies, corporations and bankers. You want us to bail you out? Here are some of our demands:

1) Corporations and the rich need to pay higher taxes, period. We are tired of hearing that higher corporate and upper class taxes will increase the jobless rate and slow the economy.

Even Warren Buffet (an Obama supporter) says that our current tax system unfairly puts more of the tax burden on the working class than the rich. The rich pay more taxes as a total collected, but much less of a percentage as the middle class.

Mr. Buffet goes on to say, “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

2) We want tougher consumer regulations on the insurance, credit card and banking industries along with fair mortgage lending practices. It’s time for Wallstreet, insurance company’s and banks to forgo some of the excessive profits we have seen in the past and pass savings along to their clients.

3) Middle class and small business tax cuts. It’s time for some “trickle up” economics.

When Obama becomes President of the United States with a Democratic Congress, the middle class will once again have a strong voice in national politics. If you were advising Obama as he begins his Presidency in 2009, what policies would you suggest he initiate to stimulate and strengthen the economy and middle class (instead of corporate bailouts)?

(*For this (HP) blog’s purpose I’m referring to the “middle class” as everyone who is not in the “upper class.” Even though the “upper middle class,” “lower middle class,” “working class,” and “lower class,” combine to make up 99% of the United States population, the remaining 1% owns about one third of private wealth.)

Source: HP

An impressive crowd of 100,000 showed up to an Obama Rally in St. Louis, MO today.

Obama saying that he would give tax cuts to working people and that McCain – is one of the only politicians in history who would say that a tax cut for the working middle class amounts to welfare and a government give-away. [Especially after the $700bn Wall Street bailout.]

Obama argued that all workers are subject to payroll tax – and that by giving those at the lower end – who don’t pay income tax – a tax cut is in no way welfare – as these are working people.   

Where John McCain wants to give tax cuts and really what most consider corporate welfare – to companies like – Exxon Mobile – and to CEO’s on Wall Street over – relieving some of the pressure those in the middle class are feeling.

Both John McCain as well as Barack Obama (through successful book sales) are in the upper 5% income bracket. Obama wishes to use the 3% tax cut that the Bush administration introduced – for the wealthiest 5% – to give it to the middle class and poor – in a form of a tax cut for 95% of working people and small business owners. Something which Republican commentators have called ‘Robin Hood’ type policy and even ‘Marxist’. McCain agrees and wishes to keep the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans – in place – the idea being that this money can trickle down to those on lower wages.

During the Clinton eight years – the tax cut for the wealth did not exist – yet the US economy grew more than at any time in history. The idea of giving a tax cut to the richest – in order that it trickles down to those less well off – falls apart – when the Bush (both Bush) economics are compared to the strongest and more prosperous Clintonian one. McCain is largely promising to continue Bush economics – with only a couple of alterations.

In 2000 Clinton requested that taxes not be reduced – in order to pay down the debt within eight years.

Plumbers were raised, along with teachers and police officers – to say that if you don’t make $250,000 then you will receive a tax cut. And taxes will only increase on the amount of earnings above this – by 3%. Obama has said in the past that he will work with small businesses to lower the amount they pay toward employee health-care.

Obama reminded voters not to be complacent – that they should keep making their case for change – that they should keep working hard – as a Democrat win is not guaranteed.


Voters in at least 10 swing states are receiving hundreds of thousands of automated telephone calls — uniformly negative and sometimes misleading — that the Republican Party and the McCain campaign are financing this week as they struggle to keep more states from drifting into the Democratic column.

Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for president, has denounced such phone calls in the past: In the 2000 primaries, Mr. McCain was a target of misleading calls that included innuendo about his family, and he blamed them in part for his loss to George W. Bush. This January, too, in South Carolina, Mr. McCain described the calls against him as “scurrilous stuff,” and his campaign set up a “truth squad” to debunk them.

On Friday, a Democratic official in Minnesota said he had received one of these so-called robocalls and had tracked it to a company owned by a prominent Republican consultant, Jeff Larson. According to published news reports, Mr. Larson and his previous firm helped develop the phone calls in 2000 that took aim at Mr. McCain.

In the 2000 primaries, Mr. McCain was a target of misleading calls that included innuendo about his family, and he blamed them in part for his loss to George W. Bush.

A spokesman for the McCain campaign could not say Friday night whether it had contracted with Mr. Larson’s current company, FLS Connect. Phone messages left for Mr. Larson were not answered Friday, nor were messages left at a subcontractor, King TeleServices, which is making the actual calls to voters in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Democrat, Christopher Shoff, a commissioner in Freeborn County, said the automated call described Mr. Obama as putting “Hollywood above America” because he attended a fund-raiser in Beverly Hills hours after the federal government seized control of the insurance giant American International Group. The call was first reported by The Huffington Post.

“It is a disgusting form of negative campaigning,” Mr. Shoff said in an interview, “calling people randomly off a computerized list, during dinner time, and reciting a message that is misleading, as I knew it to be. Republicans should be talking about serious issues.”

Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said the “Hollywood” robocall was based in fact. “I would argue that much of these calls are based on hardened facts that American voters should consider,” Mr. Bounds said.

Another McCain spokesman, Brian Rogers, said the automated calls placed this year were different from those used against Mr. McCain in 2000 because they were “100 percent true.” Mr. Rogers added that it was “crazy” to compare these calls to the calls in 2000, which sought to hurt Mr. McCain by describing his “interracial child” — a reference to the McCains’ adopted daughter from Bangladesh.

On Friday, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, urged Mr. McCain to stop placing automated calls in her state, The Associated Press reported.

“It is a disgusting form of negative campaigning,” Mr. Shoff said in an interview, “calling people randomly off a computerized list, during dinner time, and reciting a message that is misleading, as I knew it to be. Republicans should be talking about serious issues.”

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said Mr. McCain’s use of automated calls in this campaign showed “just how much Senator McCain has changed since then — adopting not only President Bush’s policies but his tactics.” In response to the calls, the Obama campaign on Friday added a link on its Web site to FightTheSmears.com, asking supporters to report robocalls.

Mr. LaBolt said the Obama campaign was currently making robocalls, but he added: “The focus of all of our communications is on the direction Senator Obama will take the country and on policy differences between the candidates on issues like health care.” Republican National Committee officials said they were not aware of any Obama robocalls.

Such calls are a relatively cheap way to reach large numbers of voters in a short time. A review shows that the current calls on Mr. McCain’s behalf are uniformly negative and at times misleading.

The phone campaign hammers familiar themes that have been playing out for months in the campaign, focusing on Mr. Obama’s past associations and trying to portray him as a friend of radicals and liberal Hollywood celebrities.

Mr. McCain’s use of automated calls in this campaign showed “just how much Senator McCain has changed since then — adopting not only President Bush’s policies but his tactics.”

In one widely reported call, Mr. McCain raises Mr. Obama’s links to William Ayers, a founder of the 1960s-era radical Weather Underground. “You need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers,” a recorded voice says.

Mr. Obama, 47, and Mr. Ayers, now a 63-year-old education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, served together on two of that city’s philanthropic boards as well as on the board of an education project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. The two men have been described as friendly, but are not known to be close.

In an Oct. 10 letter to The New York Times, William C. Ibershof, the lead federal prosecutor of the Weathermen in the 1970s, expressed outrage that Mr. Obama was being tarred with the association, adding that he was pleased to learn that Mr. Ayers had “become a responsible citizen.”

The “Hollywood” robocall, meanwhile, asserts that “on the very day our elected leaders gathered in Washington to deal with the financial crisis, Barack Obama spent just 20 minutes with economic advisers, but hours at a celebrity Hollywood fund-raiser.”

The information is based on a newspaper report from Sept. 16, when the government took control of the American International Group in an $85 billion bailout. Mr. Obama attended a cocktail reception that night in Beverly Hills that featured celebrities like Barbra Streisand and Leonardo DiCaprio, after a 20-minute briefing by economic advisers.

But Mr. LaBolt said Mr. Obama’s schedule that day also showed that he was briefed by staff members twice more and spoke with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

Mr. McCain was not in Washington, either, on the day Mr. Obama was in Beverly Hills; he was campaigning in Ohio. The Obama campaign noted that Mr. McCain had also raised money from Hollywood.

Voters in North Carolina have received calls accusing Mr. Obama of opposing legislation aimed at protecting aborted fetuses that show signs of life, a position the call states is “at odds even with John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.”

“Please vote,” the call continues, “vote for candidates that share our values.”

The 2003 measure in Illinois that Mr. Obama opposed was virtually identical to federal legislation that Mr. Bush signed into law in 2002 after it was overwhelmingly passed by Congress. But Mr. Obama and other opponents of the Illinois bill have said that the state already had a law protecting aborted fetuses born alive. The Illinois State Medical Society, which also opposed the legislation, said the bill would increase civil liability for doctors and interfere with their patient relationships.

Source: NYT


Now that FNC has reinvented itself as the “24-hour ACORN and Ayers” network, it’s more obvious than ever that they don’t give a damn about the pocketbook issues facing middle-class Americans.

Based on a search of closed caption data gathered since Sunday, FNC has mentioned the GOP’s favorite issues (ACORN and Ayers) nearly thirty percent more frequently than they mentioned the GOP’s least favorite issues, the economy and the middle class.

The numbers are staggering:

  • Combined, FNC has mentioned “ACORN” or “Ayers” 1,231 times
  • Compare that to 963 references to “economy” or “middle class”

FNC’s propaganda puts it out way out on a limb. Combined, MSNBC and CNN have made 798 references to ACORN or Ayers. Remember, that’s both networks, combined.

Put another way, FNC has mentioned ACORN or Ayers 50% more often than both of its competitors put together.

::: :::

Raw Numbers:

 

FNC

MSNBC

CNN

ACORN

706

67

112

AYERS

525

340

279

Economy

826

1032

954

“Middle Class”

137

170

163

 

A special thanks to Beyond Media for loaning me an evaluation unit of a Snapstream Enterprise Server, which I used to generate these numbers.

Source: Daily Kos

Senior members of the Republican party are in open mutiny against John McCain’s presidential campaign, after a disastrous period which has seen Barack Obama solidify his lead in the opinion polls.

And as disputes raged within the McCain camp yesterday, Democrats took another symbolic step towards healing the party after their bitter primary battles, as Bill and Hillary Clinton made their first joint appearance in support of Mr Obama.

From inside and outside his inner circle, Mr McCain is being told to settle on a coherent economic message and to tone down attacks on his rival which have sometimes whipped up a mob-like atmosphere at Republican rallies.

Two former rivals for the party nomination, Mitt Romney and Tommy Thompson, went on the record over the weekend about the disarray in the Republican camp. And a string of other senior party figures said Mr McCain’s erratic performance risks taking the party down to heavy losses not just in the presidential race but also in contests for Congressional seats. Mr Thompson, a former governor of the swing state of Wisconsin, said he thought Mr McCain, on his present trajectory, would lose the state, and he told a New York Times reporter he was not happy with the campaign. “I don’t know who is,” he added.

Mr McCain’s erratic performance risks taking the party down to heavy losses not just in the presidential race but also in contests for Congressional seats.

Some Republicans seeking election to Congress have begun distancing themselves from Mr McCain. In Nebraska, a Republican representative, Lee Terry, ran a newspaper ad featuring support from a woman who called herself an “Obama-Terry voter”.

The McCain camp was reportedly considering launching a new set of economic policies last night, on top of the plan for government purchases of mortgages which he unveiled in a surprise move at last week’s presidential debate. Possible options include temporary tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. Mr Romney said he should “stand above the tactical alternatives that are being considered and establish an economic vision that is able to convince the American people that he really knows how to strengthen the economy”.

With just over three weeks to go to election day, a new Reuters/Zogby tracking poll showed the Democratic candidate gaining momentum during the past week. From a two-point lead four days ago, the latest reading has Mr Obama up 6 points. A Gallup poll yesterday put him at plus-7 per cent.

The Clintons took to the stage yesterday in Scranton, a down-at-heel Pennsylvania town that has taken on outsize significance in the presidential election. The town, which has become symbolic of the decline of industrial America, was childhood home of Joe Biden, Mr Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, and is where Hillary Clinton’s father grew up and is buried.

“This is an all hands on deck election,” Mrs Clinton declared, adding that only a Democrat could put the interests of struggling working families at the centre of policy. John McCain sees the middle class as “not fundamental, but ornamental,” she said.

“This is an all hands on deck election,” Mrs Clinton declared, adding that only a Democrat could put the interests of struggling working families at the centre of policy. John McCain sees the middle class as “not fundamental, but ornamental,” she said.

Her husband praised Mr Obama as having the best ideas, best instincts and best team for the White House. However, he focused most of his speech on his wife and Mr Biden, and quickly disappeared for a campaign appearance in Virginia, raising eyebrows among those who worry he has still not fully reconciled himself to the Obama candidacy and is still smarting from the bitter reaction against his contributions to the primary race.

McCain campaign staffers lashed out at the media for focusing on a minority of supporters at some rallies in the past week who have gone beyond booing and hissing at Mr Obama’s name, and begun calling out “terrorist” and “kill him”.

Senior Republicans have sharply conflicting views about the direction the McCain campaign should take, with some arguing that their candidate has not hit Mr Obama hard enough on the shady associates from his past. The issue of the Rev Jeremiah Wright, Mr Obama’s former pastor, whose incendiary speeches about white racism almost derailed the Democrat’s primary race, should be brought back on to the table by Mr McCain, many are counselling. Mr McCain, however, has ruled that issue off-limits, for fear of being accused of playing a race card.

The Republican candidate appeared keen to cool the temperature at rallies over the weekend, at one point snatching the microphone from a woman in Minnesota who declared Mr Obama was an “Arab”. He chided her, and another man who said he was “scared” of an Obama presidency, and told a booing crowd to be respectful. “He is a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues,” said Mr McCain.

McCain campaign staffers lashed out at the media for focusing on a minority of supporters at some rallies in the past week who have gone beyond booing and hissing at Mr Obama’s name, and begun calling out “terrorist” and “kill him”.

Reining in the party’s supporters may be harder. A minister delivering the invocation at a rally on Saturday asked Christians to pray for a McCain win. “There are millions of people around this world praying to their god – whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah – that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,” said Arnold Conrad, the former pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in Davenport. Those comments earned a rebuke from a McCain spokesman, and both sides this weekend had to slap down supporters for stirring issues of religion and race.

The Obama campaign disassociated itself from comments by Democratic congressman John Lewis who compared Mr McCain to the late Alabama segregationist George Wallace. “Senator McCain and Governor Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division,” he said. “George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights.”

Source: Independent London

At the moment just expect everything Sarah Palin says to be either a bold face lie or a half truth. Including all things to do with her finances – actual accounts will be released on Oct 6 ’08.

This defines being out of touch. On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Sarah Palin calls herself “an everyday working class American” — but the truth is that her family income is $250K and she owns five properties, two watercraft, and an airplane.

Here she was on Hewitt’s show:

Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office.

HP

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has introduced her family to the nation as small-town common folk since she burst onto the scene as the surprise pick for the Republican vice-presidential nominee last month. A check of financial records, though, shows the Palins live anything but a common life when compared with their fellow residents of their hometown of Wasilla.

Their combined income of nearly a quarter-million dollars last year was five times the median household income for Wasilla’s 7,000 residents. They own a single-engine plane, two boats, two personal watercraft and a half-million-dollar, custom-built home on a lake that is worth three times the average of other homes in town.

For the future, they also have a 401(k) retirement account compliments of Todd Palin’s years as an engineer with oil giant BP.

“Gov. Palin’s story is emblematic of the American dream,” McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt said.

The Palins have been hugely successful by most standards in both their public and their private lives, according to the records.

“As a person, she’s consistent, honest and warm,” said Cheryl Metiva, executive director of the chamber of commerce in the Palins’ hometown of Wasilla. “As a politician, she’s focused, direct and clear. And she’s done a tremendous job of balancing her family life and with her public duties.

“You underestimate her at your peril,” she said.

The couple’s house was appraised this year at $552,100, which, according to Alaska magazine, was designed and built by Mr. Palin.

Mr. Palin, known in Alaska as the “First Dude,” is a longtime commercial fisherman who maintains a highly sought-after commercial-fishing permit that has been handed down in his family from generation to generation. A native of Dillingham, Alaska, his mother is one-quarter Yup’ik Eskimo and his maternal grandmother is a member of the Curyung tribe, which is the source of the permit.

“Hard work and principled convictions have allowed her to catapult to being the most popular governor in America,” Mr. Porritt said of the Republican candidate.

Source: Washington Times