Ringo, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty:
Tuesday, Aug 16 | 9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking Susie | Susie Madrak visits with Richard (RJ) Eskow, former executive with experience in health care, benefits, and risk management, finance, and information technology. Richard worked for AIG and other insurance, risk management, and financial organizations and consulted – public policy and finance/economics – in the US and over 20 countries. RJwrites at A Night Light, Huffington Post and OurFuture.org. Follow him @rjeskow. | Listen live and later on BTR
Phone number for questions and comments is 646-200-3440.
Boy, that for-profit healthcare system’s really working out well, don’t you think?
It will cost $15 to ask Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a question in person during the August congressional recess.
The House Budget Committee chairman isn’t holding any face-to-face open-to-the-public town hall meetings during the recess, but like several of his colleagues he will speak only for residents willing to open their wallets.
[...] By outsourcing the events to third parties that charge an entry fee to raise money, members of Congress can eliminate most of the riffraff while still — in some cases — allowing reporters and TV cameras for a positive local news story.
In a series of recent reports, Pentagon experts and budget-cutters like Sen. Coburn have proposed cuts of $1 trillion — almost exactly the sum of the $420 billion from the first round of cuts and the $600 billion that would be triggered by the failure of the bipartisan commission. The striking similarity of the details of these reports, despite their authors’ radically differing political views, implies that it’s not so very hard to find
deep reductions in so massive an enterprise as the Defense Department.
All propose a reduction in both civilian and military personnel; a redeployment of forces now stationed in Europe and Asia; the cancellation or shrinkage of planned procurements for fighter aircraft, helicopters, aircraft carriers, and missile defense; reforms in military health care; and a downsizing of the nuclear weapons stockpile. Even after such cuts, the United States would still be spending as much as it ever did during the Cold War, when it was in perpetual conflict with the Soviet Union, which it deemed an existential threat to the West.
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It is, of course, an article of wingnut faith that Fannie and Freddie crashed the economy by helping undeserving black and brown people get mortgages. (Wall Street didn’t have a thing to do with it.) So if Obama actually implements such a proposal, it will trigger yet another wave of right-wing outrage:
President Obama has directed a small team of advisers to develop a proposal that would keep the government playing a major role in the nation’s mortgage market, extending a federal loan subsidy for most home buyers, according to people familiar with the matter.
The decision follows the advice of his senior economic and housing advisers, who favor maintaining the government’s role as an insurer of mortgages for most borrowers. The approach could even preserve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants owned by the government, although under different names and with significant new constraints, said people knowledgeable about the discussions.
A decision to preserve a major government role would mark a big milestone in the effort to craft a new housing policy from the wreckage of the mortgage meltdown and could mean a larger part for Fannie and Freddie than administration officials had signaled.
In a statement, the White House said it is premature to say that senior officials have agreed on any of the three main options outlined earlier this year in an administration white paper on reforming the housing finance system.
“It is simply false that there has been a decision to move forward with any particular option,” said Matt Vogel, a White House spokesman. “All three options remain under active consideration and we are deepening our analysis around how each would potentially be implemented. No recommendation has been made to the president by his economic advisers.”
But progressive economist Dean Baker hates the idea:
It would be difficult to find an economic rationale for this policy other than subsidizing the financial industry. The government can and does directly subsidize the purchase of homes through the mortgage interest deduction. This can be made more generous and better targeted toward low and moderate income families by capping it and converting it into a tax credit (e.g. all homeowners can deduct 15 percent of the interest paid on mortgages of $300,000 or less from their taxes).
There is no obvious reason to have an additional subsidy through the system of mortgage finance. Analysis by Mark Zandi showed that the subsidy provided by a government guarantee would largely translate into higher home prices. This would leave monthly mortgage payments virtually unaffected. The diversion of capital from elsewhere in the economy would mean slower economic growth and would kill jobs for auto workers, steel workers and other workers in the manufacturing sector.
At Kweder’s open mike last night. Tom the Bomb, who I haven’t seen since high school, was there and he’s as anti-establishment as ever. Yo, Tom!
Plus, I’m sitting there watching these two guys play a while before I finally realize the guy on the Rickenbacker bass (very nice bass, by the way) is a local reporter who used to be a music critic back in the day.
My buddy Matt did another great set. He’s appearing at the World Cafe at the Queen in Wilmington Thursday night, in case you want to check him out.