Saturday, February 6, 2016

Draft Dodgers

I'm not sure which is more laughable right now, keeping in mind that both are ridiculously unlikely to happen: the GOP drafting Mitt Romney to save them from themselves, or the Dems somehow needing Joe Biden to run because Hillary is doomed or something (and Bernie can't possibly beat Trump.)

Over at Fred Hiatt's House Of Clenis, Colbert King warns of doooooooooooom unless the Dems convince Joe to run.

The Hillary Clinton email issue is developing into a real whodunit, complete with Clintonesque legal semantics. “I never sent or received any material marked classified,” she said with respect to the discovery of classified information on her private, unclassified email server. That surface denial nearly rivals Bill Clinton’s classic: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

But this is no laughing matter.

There is nothing trivial about a secretary of state having top-secret information on an unsecured computer in her home. That appears to have been the case, based on the State Department’s announcement last week that 22 emails, across seven email chains, containing top-secret information were on Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

At issue is whether the information in the emails was classified when it was sent to her unsecured server. It was, after all, the State Department, upon review of the content by intelligence agencies, that upgraded the emails to top-secret and ordered them withheld from the public.

Right, because that's totally different somehow from the part where Colin Powell and Condi Rice both received classified information over their personal email and nobody seemed to give a damn.

Colin Powell and top staffers for Condoleezza Rice received classified information through personal email accounts, according to a new report from State Department investigators.

Hillary Clinton has received severe criticism -- particularly from Republicans and computer security experts -- for using her personal email account while serving as the nation's top diplomat under President Barack Obama. Thursday's revelation about the two secretaries of state under former President George W. Bush gave her supporters an opportunity to claim the Democratic presidential candidate was being singled out over the practice.

No kidding?

Look, Bernie may be a bit of an ass, but he's infinitely preferable to any of the Republican clowns. Anybody at this stage of the game screaming that the Dems should be drafting Biden is outright wanting a Republican president and should be ignored.

The Lies And Reconciliation Commission

Senate Republicans are already talking about using budget reconciliation to put massive austerity cuts on a Republican president's desk in early 2017, including the end of Obamacare.

Several Republicans said they’re discussing the possibility of adopting a budget this year that would let the next president’s agenda -- including top goals like repealing Obamacare -- bypass a Democratic filibuster at the very start of the year. Republicans used a similar move early this year to send a bill repealing much of Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood to President Barack Obama, who vetoed it.

The strategy would allow Republicans who control the House and Senate to put just such a bill on the desk of a new president if their party wins the White House, without having to grind through months of budget process. To succeed, Republicans need the Senate parliamentarian to let them use rules set by a budget resolution into the next Congress.

“It could be pretty powerful if it works,” said John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican. “We haven’t yet concluded one way or the other.”

Such a strategy “might pass muster,” said Bill Hoagland, a vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Republican congressional aide.

Legislation generally expires at the end of a Congress. Yet rules set by a budget resolution remain in force until a new one is adopted, meaning that a resolution enacted by the current Congress may allow a filibuster-free vote early next year on a new Republican president’s economic agenda, Hoagland said. “I think it might be an open question,” he said in an interview.

“What unified us this last year on the budget was the ability to vote to defund Planned Parenthood and Obamacare with 51 votes,” Cornyn said. “So if we find a similar unifying theme then I think that does provide us with an opportunity and that’s what we’re exploring. We haven’t settled on anything yet.”

This Congress would first have to enact a budget resolution, something that is optional because lawmakers and the White House agreed to a two-year deal that raised spending caps last year.

Seems to me that this is a rather pointed reminder of what Republicans will try to do if they maintain control of the Senate and win the White House this November, and what Democrats should remember is at stake here. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and any Republican president would be more than willing to shred everything back to the New Deal and then some, and then appoint Supreme Court justices who would cement everything into law for decades.

We may be bickering over Hillary versus Bernie (well not *here* but in general) but in the end we have to go out and vote.

Toyota Crashes On The Race Track

Yet another shining example of exactly what I mean by "structural racism" in America, as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau busts Toyota's auto loan arm for overcharging people of color and rings up the lender for a $22 million settlement.

Toyota's financing arm will pay as much as $21.9 million to black and Asian borrowers who paid more for auto loans than whites, settling allegations of discrimination by federal regulators. 
Toyota Motor Credit Corp. in Torrance had been under investigation by the Department of Justice and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau since 2013. It had been targeted as part of a broad probe into auto lending practices that has led to similar settlements with other major auto credit companies. 
The agencies didn't find that Toyota Motor Credit discriminated directly, but rather that the automaker's dealerships increased interest rates more for black and Asian borrowers than for whites.

Lenders like Toyota Motor Credit offer a base rate for buyers based on their credit-worthiness. Dealerships then are allowed to tack on additional interest -- known as a dealer markup. 
Regulators didn't take issue with the markups themselves, but rather that dealerships added extra interest to loans for black and Asian borrowers.

So dealers would charge black and Asian borrowers more for the same loan, and Toyota looked the other way.

"No consumer should be forced to pay more money for a loan because of their race or national origin,” U.S. Atty. Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California said in a statement announcing the settlement. 
Investigators found that black borrowers paid 0.27 percentage point more for loans than whites with similar loans and credit histories. Asian borrowers paid 0.18 percentage point more. 
The extra interest meant that black borrowers, on average, paid as much as $200 extra over the course of their loans, while Asian borrowers paid $100 extra. It's not clear how many borrowers were affected, but the size of the settlement implies more than 100,000 borrowers.

One hundred thousand people, mind you.  An extra hundred bucks times a hundred thousand loans is ten million.  And the best news?  This is a widespread practice in the auto loan, mortgage loan, and bank loan industries.

If you're black, or Asian, or Hispanic, companies rip you off and you pay more.  It's accepted practice, and something the CFPB was created to fight.

No wonder then that Republicans want to get rid of the agency, right?
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