Thursday, August 8, 2013

Last Call For Fannie And Freddie

In a speech on fixing our broken housing market given in Phoenix on Tuesday, President Obama called for the end of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which pretty much ensures he's the Worst Socialist Ever(tm).  He had this to say about making the housing market stable again:

That begins with winding down the companies known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For too long, these companies were allowed to make big profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag. It was “heads we win, tails you lose.” And it was wrong.

The good news is that there’s a bipartisan group of Senators working to end Fannie and Freddie as we know them. I support these kinds of efforts, and today I want to lay out four core principles for what I believe this reform should look like.

First, private capital should take a bigger role in the mortgage market. I know that must sound confusing to the folks who call me a raging socialist every day. But just like the health care law that set clear rules for insurance companies to protect consumers and make it more affordable for millions to buy coverage on the private market, I believe that while our housing system must have a limited government role, private lending should be the backbone of the housing market, including community-based lenders who view their borrowers not as a number, but as a neighbor.

Second, no more leaving taxpayers on the hook for irresponsibility or bad decisions. We encourage the pursuit of profit – but the era of expecting a bailout after your pursuit of profit puts the whole country at risk is over.

Third, we should preserve access to safe and simple mortgage products like the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. That’s something families should be able to rely on when they make the most important purchase of their lives.

Fourth, we have to keep housing affordable for first-time homebuyers and families working to climb into the middle class. We need to strengthen the FHA so it gives today’s families the same kind of chance it gave my grandparents, and preserves that rung on the ladder of opportunity. And we need to support affordable rental housing and keep up our fight against homelessness. Since I took office we’ve helped bring one in four homeless veterans off the streets. Here in Phoenix, thanks to the hard work of everyone from Mayor Stanton to the local United Way to US Airways, you’re on track to end chronic homelessness for veterans by 2014. But we have to keep going, because nobody in America, and certainly no veteran, should be left to live on the street.

Naturally, Republicans have already thought of this whole "wait a minute what if Obama calls our bluff on wanting to unwind Fannie and Freddie?  We should pass a bill that does that, only it's crazy."

A Republican-sponsored bill that would liquidate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and dramatically reduce the U.S. government backstop in the mortgage market was approved by a House of Representatives committee on Wednesday.

The House Financial Services Committee voted 30-27 largely along party lines to approve the bill. The split reflects a deep divide between Republicans and Democrats over how to remake the U.S. mortgage finance system, after the housing bubble burst and plunged the country into a severe credit crisis.

The House bill would abolish government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within five years and replace them with a non-profit, utility-like platform that investors would use to securitize mortgages. Unlike mortgage securities offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the new securities would be issued without a government guarantee.

It also makes massive cuts to FHA loans and would basically eliminate 30-year mortgages overnight, leaving home ownership virtually unaffordable for the vast majority of Americans, but hey.  It gets rid of Fannie and Freddie!

Republicans are on it, folks.

Turns Out It's Good For You, Moose Lady

The latest data from the CDC suggests the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative to reduce childhood obesity is having a significant impact on making kids healthier.  Zerlina Maxwell notes the programs success over at The Grio:

According to the report, the obesity rates for low income preschoolers has gone down in 19 states between 2008 and 2011. That news will be music to the ears of Let’s Move supporters who were tasked with the specific goal of fighting childhood obesity.

And of course the biggest critic of Michelle Obama over this?  Moose Lady.

The first lady was attacked incessantly by conservatives, including Sarah Palin, who were up in arms at Michelle Obama’s suggestion that American children exercise and eat vegetables.

Palin suggested in 2010, that it was the First Lady’s worldview that would give her the nerve to suggest that “parents [cannot] make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat.”

Palin also implied that it was a “God-given right” for children to be overweight, saying “[i]nstead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician’s wife’s priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track,” to conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.

Palin might want to read up on adult obesity rates before commenting on the latest news. Before this decline, obesity rates for all age groups had been going up consistently for everyone for nearly 30 years straight. It’s quite possible that the high-profile focus on the issue has lead to this recent decline, since raising awareness is a key component to any campaign with the goal of serving the public’s welfare.


Hey folks, childhood obesity in the US has rocketed upwards since the Reagan years.  This is the first time anything has remotely gone down in decades.  You would think Sarah Palin, herself an avid runner and sportswoman, would appreciate what the First Lady is doing.

You won't get an apology out of this sour-ass moose though.

Well Now Here's Your Problem

As a medical IT professional, it really does bother the hell out of me to read stories about the IT side of the Obamacare health insurance exchanges not being ready by October 1.  Then I remember that Republicans have been doing everything possible to sabotage that work, and the work of people in my field, deliberately.

And then I get angry.

The federal government is months behind in testing data security for the main pillar of Obamacare: allowing Americans to buy health insurance on state exchanges due to open by October 1.

The missed deadlines have pushed the government's decision on whether information technology security is up to snuff to exactly one day before that crucial date, the Department of Health and Human Services' inspector general said in a report.

As a result, experts say, the exchanges might open with security flaws or, possibly but less likely, be delayed.

"They've removed their margin for error," said Deven McGraw, director of the health privacy project at the non-profit Center for Democracy & Technology. "There is huge pressure to get (the exchanges) up and running on time, but if there is a security incident they are done. It would be a complete disaster from a PR viewpoint."

The most likely serious security breach would be identity theft, in which a hacker steals the social security numbers and other information people provide when signing up for insurance.

This happens to be the kind of thing I'm paid to deal with on a daily basis.  And yes, protecting patient data is of paramount concern to everyone in this particular field.  We'd be unemployed, rightfully, otherwise.

I am also then reminded that Republicans want IT engineers like me to fail.  They want to make an example of people like myself for their own political gain.  So yes, I take the Republican sabotage of Obamacare personally, especially the sabotage of the health care exchanges and data security surrounding them.  This is serious stuff, and you would think Republicans would want to make sure their own constituents had the utmost in data security for patient information.

Sadly, they hate Obama more, and are willing to starve these exchanges of resources they need in order to try to make a breach more likely.  Think about that, and keep that in mind when you hear about stories like this.


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