Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cramdown Breakdown

Obama's mortgage fix plan revolves around getting Congress to update bankruptcy laws to allow judges to change mortgage rates, but banks and mortgage brokers are virulently against it, and have lobbied Congress hard to kill the measure.

If the so called "cramdown" provision fails, Obama's mortgage fix is sunk. The Blue Dogs and Senate DINOs are strongly against the measure, and the Obama administration just doesn't have the numbers to pass the bill right now. A full-court press is on this week to get the votes, but it's going to be yet another long, hard slog of deal-making for this to pass -- and those objecting in Congress have their sights on deals to be made during budget time.
President Obama is in danger of losing the biggest stick in his foreclosure prevention arsenal.

The administration's plan to stem the housing crisis depends on Congress amending the bankruptcy laws to allow judges to modify mortgages, in particular by reducing principal to make monthly payments more affordable.

The so-called cramdown provision could put pressure on loan servicers to modify mortgages before borrowers file for bankruptcy.

A major critique of the voluntary modification programs is that servicers aren't doing enough to help struggling borrowers. But servicers will likely be more aggressive in working with homeowners if they know that the borrowers can turn to judges for relief.

"Reforming mortgage bankruptcy laws is the only remedy available that will provide the stick to go with the carrots that we have offered lenders to modify mortgages voluntarily," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., who worked on the legislation.

But congressional Democrats, who first introduced a bill broadening judges' power two years ago, are running into trouble gathering the support needed to pass the legislation. The House postponed a vote on the measure until early this week after a group of centrist Democrats voiced concerns. And its future in the Senate remains in doubt with many powerful Republicans strongly opposed to the legislation.
This is the real test of Obama's political clout on the Hill. The stimulus had to pass, but cramdown has interests on both sides of the aisle waiting for the opportunity to kill it. If Obama can't get this through, the budget is pretty much DOA, as it will be a much, much harder fight.

Even the nuclear option of sliding this through as a Senate-filibuster proof budget amendement may not work. We'll see.

The Losing Side Didn't Lose Gracefully

Here's a chunk of the HBO documentary film "Right America Feeling Wronged" by filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi. She documented the crowds following McCain/Palin over the end of the campaign, and what she found is pretty disturbing, but shouldn't be surprising to any readers of this blog. The clip here (h/t Pandagon) includes some footage of folks from the part of North Carolina I grew up in and recently still lived in, Concord, NC, the heart of NASCAR country.

Alexandra asks folks at Lowes' Motor Speedway if they're ready for a black President. What do you think they said?

"When did this country get chickenshit?" one guy asks. That's what they see Obama as: the final nail in the coffin for their version of America. They're not too happy about it. They're going to continue to be unhappy about it. They want to be angry about it, as a matter of fact. Believe me when I tell you I can recognize mad-eyed righteous indignation used to justify racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, what have you from a mile off, and these guys are full of that.

They honestly do not believe they are doing anything wrong. They believe they are being honest about how the way the world has worked for decades. They believe that's how the world should continue to work. But Barack Obama scares the ever-loving crap out of them. He represents the end of the world working the way they have been used to seeing. That's a hard, hard thing for any human being to take, and the more narrow your worldview, the harder it is to see it ripped out and replaced by a new era where the President of the United States doesn't look like them.

So yes, they are easy targets for the kind of hatred and paranoia whipped up by El Rushbo, Coultergeist, Malkinvania, Hannity the Manatee and the rest of the hate radio all-stars. There's a reason why El Rushbo is the voice of the GOP in 2009. They've finally become the reactionary racist nationalist party we see in Europe. Obama represents the end of their power. Naturally, they hate him.

So now we're at a crossroads. The GOP doesn't want just Barack Obama to fail. They are driving a fundamental, elemental hatred for everything he represents. They want to destroy this country as a lesson to punish the majority of Americans who voted for him. It's the only way, after all, those deluded folks who voted for Obama will ever see what Pandora's Box they have opened by putting a black man in the White House.

Obama represents the total destruction of their worldview. Now, their worldview has shifted to the destruction of the worldview that Obama represents. It's not their America anymore. They don't care if it burns, in fact they see it as necessary to purge those who brought it about.

So when you ask yourself "Hey Zandar, are you serious about the GOP wanting to destroy the country?" then remember this clip. See the entire documentary (all 5 bits are on YouTube for now). They have decided that the country needs to be destroyed in order to save it. That's the goal driving everything the GOP does. We're all the enemy to them. We betrayed them because we elected Obama. We deserve the economic calamity as the price paid for it.

The war is just beginning.

Take Two On HHS

Many news outlets this morning are reporting that President Obama has talked Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius into being HHS Secretary.
The officials told CNN that Obama is expected to make the announcement Monday afternoon. The officials asked not to be named because the announcement has not yet been made.

Sebelius, who administration officials say Obama seriously considered to be his vice-presidential nominee, has been rumored to be a top contender for the job for weeks.

The post is still vacant after the first pick, former Sen. Tom Daschle, stepped aside after questions were raised about his failure to pay more than $100,000 in taxes for use of a car and driver.

CNN reported earlier this month that Sebelius met in Washington with senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett about the job, a sign that the administration has been giving her a close look since Daschle dropped out.

She seems to be a strong choice for the position. Sebelius is well-respected by a number of governors and brings that perspective to running a government health care program. I'm hoping she'll get to be a major influence on legislation for Obama's universal health care plans. We'll see.

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