Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Dodd’

Obama V.P. Pick Joe Biden Shares Direct Blame For Foreclosure Disaster

August 28, 2008

Barack Obama – you know, the guy who tells us he can fix all the problems that Bush and Republicans caused – has an uncanny track record of picking the people who actually caused all the problems in the first place for key campaign positions.

Should Joe Biden Share Blame for Foreclosure Crisis?  At least two major studies and an ABC News investigative report say “YES.”  According to interviews with financial “Experts: Many Americans Lost Homes Due to a Bill Championed by Biden.”

Add that to Penny Pritzker – Obama’s National Finance Chairpersonwho was at the epicenter of the sub prime loan scandal that caused the foreclosure meltdown in the first place.  She paid $460 million of her family fortune through trusts to avoid going to jail.  And add that to Jim Johnson, Obama’s pick to chair his important Vice Presidential selection committee until he resigned amidst revelations that he had received sweetheart deals from sub-prime king Countrywide.  And Jim Johnson joined other key Democrats like Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, who received similar sweetheart deals.  And you can add to that the fact that federal regulators are pointedly blaming U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY for the run that caused the IndyMac bank failure.

This is just like Democrats: behind all the  ostentatious and pretentious chants that they are fighting the battles for the little guy, they do what is best for their political futures at the behest of big money donors.  And when what they do in the name of the “little guy” ends up blowing up in the little guys’ face, they wash their hands of it and try to blame Republicans for it (after all, it’s all President Bush’s fault).

Hey, Democrats: President Bush’s Vice President didn’t cause the foreclosure meltdown; Barack Obama’s did.  And President Bush’s national finance chair wasn’t involved in the sub prime scandal from the very beginning; Barack Obama’s was.

Read the ABC investigative report on Joe Biden below.  Warning: it’s damning.  You’ve got Biden fighting for a law that directly led to the foreclosure meltdown, which wouldn’t have passed without his efforts.  You’ve got banks and credit card companies headquartered in Delaware.  You’ve got Biden’s own son working as an executive, lobbyists, and consultant for one of the players.

Should Biden Share Blame for Foreclosure Crisis?
Experts: Many Americans Lost Homes Due to a Bill Championed by Biden

By JUSTIN ROOD

August 28, 2008Experts say hundreds of thousands of Americans may have lost their homes due to a bill championed by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., Barack Obama’s vice-presidential running mate.

At least two studies have concluded that the United States’ foreclosure crisis was exacerbated by a 2005 law that overhauled the nation’s bankruptcy law. That conclusion is echoed by other experts, although the banking and credit industry disputes it.

Congressional Republicans drove the effort to pass the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005. But Biden – who has enjoyed hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from credit industry executives – endorsed the measure early on and worked to gather Democratic support for it.

Biden’s early and vocal support was “essential” to the bill’s passage, said Travis Plunkett of the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Consumer Federation, which opposed the measure. Biden “went out of his way to undermine criticism of the legislation,” and his efforts helped convince other Democrats to support the bill.

“Biden was a fairly strong proponent of that bankruptcy bill,” said Philip Corwin, a consultant for the American Bankers Association, which represents banks and lenders. However, Biden was “not in our pocket in any way,” he added.

Biden’s Senate office did not provide comment for this story.

Asked if the Obama/Biden campaign was concerned Biden’s record was a liability when discussing economic security, David Wade, a spokesman for the Obama/Biden campaign, said, “Barack Obama and Joe Biden have real solutions for struggling families in danger of losing their homes because of the Bush economy and abusive lending practices.”

BAPCPA “is directly responsible for the rising foreclosure rate since the end of 2005,” concluded a 2007 study by Credit Suisse. The law “increased foreclosures and the number of homes for sale,” echoed a July 2008 study by U.S. Treasury researcher David Bernstein. That study estimated the law had pushed foreclosures or forced sales on 200,000 homeowners since it went into effect, but noted that was a rough, “back-of-the-envelope” calculation.

“Trying to tie the forclosure crisis to the [2005 bankruptcy] bill is a stretch,” said the ABA’s Corwin. Corwin called the Credit Suisse report “junk” and said the Bernstein study wasn’t “worth the paper it was written on.”

The head author of the 2007 Credit Suisse report clarified his earlier findings in an email Wednesday. “The law likely contributed to increased foreclosures early on,” said researcher Don Ravitsky, but combined with other key factors, including subprime lending practices, to create the current crisis. Bernstein did not respond to a request for an interview.

The bill was backed by banks and credit card companies including MBNA, which is headquartered in Delaware, Biden’s home state. They wanted the bill because it would make it harder for Americans to use bankruptcy to avoid repaying credit card debt. MBNA executives had been Biden’s single largest source of campaign donations, and MBNA has employed Biden’s son Hunter as a company executive, lobbyist and consultant. The Obama campaign has said Hunter Biden did no work for MBNA on the bankruptcy bill. MBNA has since been bought by Bank of America.

Over the past two years, sub-prime mortgage borrowing and a weakening economy have pushed increasing numbers of Americans into dire financial straits. Under the old rules, many could have declared bankruptcy, shed much of their debt, restructured their mortgages and held onto their homes, according to experts and the two reports.

But the 2005 law Biden championed made it more expensive and more difficult to declare bankruptcy, experts conclude. That forced hundreds of thousands of distressed homeowners to sell their homes, or default on their mortgages, after which the bank would sell their former home, according to the studies. That flood of homes going up for sale in an already-weakening market further depressed home prices, according to the two reports, snowballing into the current crisis.

BAPCPA “increased home foreclosures, increased the dollar value of financial assets in default, and put additional downward price pressure on real estate markets,” concluded the Bernstein report. Bernstein conducted the report as an individual, not as a representative the Treasury Department.

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Democrats, The Countrywide Scandal, and Self-Righteous Hypocrisy

June 27, 2008

I still recall that tragic day nearly two years ago when the Democrats regained power. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made one of those smarmy, pompous, self-righteous, over-the-top, flies-in-the-face-of-the-facts sort of statements that has come to characterize her when she said, ““Democrats are leading the effort to turn the most closed, corrupt Congress in history into the most open and honest Congress in history.” She liked the ring of that so much she said it again and again with varying iterations. “The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”

Well, of course she was completely full of what my dog regularly adds to my back yard. Remember how she tried to appoint people like Jack Murtha (the traitorous slimebag who was so ready to convict Marines of war crimes) and William Jefferson (the greedy slimebag caught red handed with $90,000 in his freezer) to important House positions?

Well, strike another blow for Democrats’ ethical purity.

A June 13, 2008 Associated Press story titled, “Sens. Dodd, Conrad tied to special mortgage deals,” opened with the following:

WASHINGTON — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, a leader of Congress’ efforts to help homeowners ensnared in the subprime mortgage meltdown, reportedly got special treatment on his own mortgages from the CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp., a company whose practices he has called “abusive.”

At least one other lawmaker, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., also benefited from the VIP treatment after placing a personal call to Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo seeking a mortgage.

Both senators say they weren’t aware they were getting special deals.

Still, their involvement in a special program that awarded discounts and waived fees for “friends” of Mozilo – first reported by Conde Nast Portfolio magazine’s Web site – raised questions about whether lawmakers weighing a homeowner rescue themselves benefited from the actions of a leading offender in the mortgage meltdown.

It could be especially damaging for Dodd, D-Conn., one of four Senate Democrats who pursued his party’s 2008 presidential nomination, given his high-profile role in crafting the housing rescue.

In order to believe Dodd’s and Conrad’s stammering protestations of innocence, one must accept that neither man understood what the acronym “V.I.P.” meant.

The magazine (this being another big story in which the elite media had to be dragged into coverage by exposure from new media revelations) said other participants in the company’s VIP program included former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, and former U.N. ambassador and assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke.

A whole bunch of prominent, smarmy, holier-than-thou Democrats, in other words.

Dodd and Conrad made their pathetic excuses, but “An internal e-mail from Mozilo, however, said the exception was “due to the fact that the borrower is a senator,” according to the Portfolio report.”

So, the bottom line is that while the housing market meltdown was taking place, and as Democrats were out in force taking turns blaming President Bush for every aspect of the crisis, Democrats were benefitting from sweetheart deals handed out by some of the worst (by their own charges) offenders of the subprime mortgage scandal.

The AP story concludes:

Mozilo received compensation worth more than $22.1 million and cashed $121.5 million in stock options in 2007, while Countrywide posted a loss of over $700 million and saw its stock plummet 80 percent. The company agreed in January to be acquired by Bank of America Corp. for $4.1 billion in stock.

Countrywide has come under fire for its lending practices, including providing mortgages with low initial “teaser” rates that balloon higher than borrowers can afford. Dodd and other Banking Committee Democrats wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in December 2007 singling out Countrywide and calling the loans “abusive.”

A watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called Friday for House and Senate investigations of Dodd and Conrad, and any other lawmakers who may have received preferential mortgages through the Countrywide program.

Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., said Congress should hold hearings on “Friends of Angelo” loans.

Souder told the Fox Business Network, “The question is, who are the friends? What is the list? How is it done? What does it mean? If we don’t pursue it, it would show preferential treatment.”

By all appearances so far, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate leadership promise to move on this scandal with all the speed of chilled mollases. They called for Rep. Tom Delay’s head on a platter when there was nothing more than a charge from an ideologue district attorney. Rep. William Jefferson has been officially under criminal indictment for over a year, and he’s still happily “serving” his district (his sister, Brenda Jefferson, just copped a guilty plea for activities he was involved in, by the way).

Don’t ever expect Democrats to live up to the standards they demand of Republicans.

Having said all this, there remains still one more link to be pointed out: the link between Barack Obama – he of the Tony Rezko sweetheart real estate deal – and the man he appointed to head his important vice president selection committee:

Lawmakers’ participation in the VIP program is coming to light just days after similar revelations about former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson prompted Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to ax Johnson from his vice presidential vetting team.

Conrad, the Budget Committee chairman, said it was Johnson who referred him to Mozilo in 2002 when the North Dakotan was seeking a loan to buy a vacation home in Bethany Beach, Del.

“I called (Mozilo). I said, ‘I’m buying this property. Would you be interested in the mortgage?’, and he said, ‘Yeah. Call these people and we’ll take a look,'” Conrad said.

“I did not think for one moment _ and no one ever suggested to me _ that I was getting preferential treatment,” Conrad said.

So Kent Conrad calls the CEO of sleazy Countrywide fishing for a personal mortgage, and it never once occurs to him to think that the really, really good deal he gets as a result just might be a political favor?

And there’s Barack Obama’s (now ex) point man, Jim Johnson, steering Conrad toward the promised land.

Assuming you believe Barack Obama – who oh-so-innocently received his own sweetheart real estate deal – it is just a coincidence that the man he appointed to lead one of the most important committees of his campaign would be dirty.

In which case it has to occur to you to ask just how many dirty Democrats there are involved in the housing market scandal.

But have no fear: Democrats will continue to lay the blame for the mortgage meltdown on Republicans, no matter how many of their most prominent members are involved, and no matter how up-to-their eyeballs that involvement turns out to be.

If you’re gag reflexes can handle it, you should read Pelosi’s “pledge” of unparalleled integrity and ethics (and note that Barack Obama’s name appears on the “look at me: I’m wonderful too!” line):

Pelosi: ‘We Will Create the Most Open and Honest Government in History’

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Contact: Brendan Daly/Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York, and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, unveiled Democrats’ “Honest Leadership, Open Government Act,” which will restore honesty, integrity, and openness to government. Below are Pelosi’s remarks as prepared.

“Good afternoon. It is fitting that we gather in the building of the Library of Congress named for Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence. Today, Democrats are here to make a Declaration of Independence from special interests.

“These halls contain great wisdom. In the hall behind me are three paintings about government. The central painting contains President Lincoln’s famous words, ‘A government of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ On the right side, a mural entitled ‘Good Administration’ shows a figure reading and voting, symbolizing the value of an informed and involved citizenry. On the other side is a painting entitled ‘Corrupt Legislation,’ which shows a figure burning a scroll of learning and trampling a Bible.

“It is a harsh image, to see a Bible underfoot – but it makes a powerful point: corrupt government undermines our values. We come here today to support those values, and to lay out an agenda for a new era of honest, open, and transparent government.

“For a long time now, an ethical cloud has hung over the Capitol. For years, Democrats have called for an end to the Republican culture of corruption.

“Yesterday, House Republican leaders unveiled a vague and insufficient set of so-called reforms. What is important about their list is not what it does do, but what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t kill the K Street project, it doesn’t address procedural abuses in the House that Republicans use to implement their culture of corruption, and it doesn’t charge the Ethics committee to act immediately. The Democratic plan we unveil today addresses all of these necessary reforms.

“Republicans are resisting true reform because they all benefit from enabling the culture of corruption to continue. Republicans have allowed this poison tree of corruption to bear the fruit of bad policy for the American people. When a prescription drug bill puts pharmaceutical companies first, senior citizens pay higher prices for prescription drugs. When the energy bill give tax breaks to oil companies already making historic profits, Americans pay the price at the pump and in record home-heating costs. When liability is waived for vaccine manufacturers, companies will profit, but Americans can get hurt.

“The intention of our Founding Fathers was for Congress to be a marketplace of ideas. The Republicans have turned Congress into an auction house – for sale to the highest bidder. You have to pay to play. It is just not right.

“Democrats are leading the effort to turn the most closed, corrupt Congress in history into the most open and honest Congress in history.

“That is why, with our Democratic Declaration of Honest Leadership and Open Government, we are pledging to enact and enforce legislation that will:

  • Ban all gifts and travel from lobbyists. Period.
  • Kill the K Street Project, the Republican plan that trades favors for lobbying jobs, and toughen public disclosure of lobbyist activity.
  • Remove the revolving door by doubling the amount of time Members and staff are prohibited from going from legislating to lobbying. Stop legislators from negotiating legislation, while also negotiating employment contracts for themselves with those who benefit from that legislation. Keep former Members who are lobbyists off the floor of Congress.
  • Next we would end the ‘dead of night’ special interest provisions that turn bills into special-interest giveaways. Lawmakers must have the opportunity to read every bill before they vote on it. It’s common sense.

“When it comes to contracting and cronyism, we intend to:

  • Eliminate the practice of irresponsible no-bid contracts, bring criminal penalties against war profiteers, and ensure that the government contracting process is honest, open, competitive, and fair. No more Halliburtons.
  • Prohibit cronyism in key appointments by making sure any individual appointed to a position has proven credentials. Brownie certainly wasn’t doing a ‘heck of a job’ for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

“These are tough standards, but they are just the beginning. We are prepared to do even more.

“If we are to have true reforms, two things need to happen: We must have strong enforcement, with an active and functioning Ethics Committee. That is why last week I wrote to Speaker Hastert asking him to join me in urging the Ethics Committee to begin investigations immediately. Second, if and when the Speaker brings reform legislation to the floor, an open rule is absolutely essential. A new era of openness can only begin if we debate the reforms in an open manner.

“Taken together, Democratic proposals will lead this country in a new direction, put an end to business as usual, and make certain this nation’s leaders serve the people’s interest, not the special interests.

“Ours must be a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ That means all of the American people. Republicans have made it a government of, by, and for a few of the people. America can do better. We can and we will. With this agenda, Democrats will create the most open and honest government in history, and put power back where it belongs – in the hands of all the people. Together, America can do better.”

The Democrats demonized the Republicans with an unprecedented blitzkrieg of nasty attacks, even as they promised to be bi-partisan. But they who were so quick to point out how awful the Republicans were and how oh-so-wonderful they would be have magnificently failed to improve the moral climate of Congress in the least.

The thing that infuriates me the most about Democrats isn’t that they are any more corrupt than Republicans. I don’t know that they are. I do know that the bigger government becomes, and the more billions getting doled out to one special interest or another, the more corruption there will be as groups try to influence politicians to steer money their way.  But what never ceases to tick me off to no end is that Democrats are so full of venomous attacks, so full of smarmy assurances of their own wonderfulness, and inevitably always so full of hypocrisy.

The Republicans have introduced some excellent Congressional reform measures that have gone absolutely nowhere under the Democratic leadership.

Barack Obama – just like Nancy Pelosi – is full of promises about what a wonderful job he’ll do if given power, and how wonderful he’ll be. Trust me: he won’t do any better than the Congress that has attained the distinction of achieving the lowest approval ratings of all time.