As I write, Senator Obama is giving a major policy speech on bankruptcy. So far as I know, he is the candidate to discuss consumer bankruptcy in a general election. I can think of many reasons that bankruptcy is a terrible subject for someone running for president. It is very technical (hard to wedge into a sound bite). It is depressing (no one wants to think about going bankrupt). It will annoy big-money interests (financial services gave big money to pass the current bankruptcy laws).
Savvy handlers would advise against it. So why would Obama make bankruptcy relief a visible part of his platform?
Here are my theories:
First, he understands that bankruptcy policy is an integral piece of economic security for
families. When all else goes wrong, bankruptcy is the ultimate safety net. More
importantly, bankruptcy rules affect all other consumer lending rules. So, for example, if
homeowners in trouble on their mortgages could reorganize in Chapter 13, the threat to file Chapter 13 would get more home mortgage lenders to the negotiating table.
Second, Obama has history. He voted against the bankruptcy bill. He voted in favor of the amendments that would have eased the effects of the amendments. But his real history is deeper. He was a community organizer who saw first-hand the effects of aggressive lending. He was a state legislator who felt the impact of federal pre-emption on his ability to protect the citizens he represented.
Third, McCain has a history. McCain has voted in favor of financial institutions since he first went to Washington. He voted over and over for the bankruptcy bill, and he voted against the amendments to give medical bankrupts a means test exemption, against a uniform minimim homestead for older Americans, against limiting recovery for lenders who violate Truth-in-Lending laws. After Katrina, McCain opposed an amendment to make procedures easier for victims of natual disasters. The list is long.
The specific proposals are getting attention--expanded homestead protection, fast-tracking more consumers through bankruptcy, better protection for people nit by natural disasters. But I'm attracted more strongly to the overarching principles for rebalancing bankruptcy: Obama talks of restoring the safety net, and making bankruptcy less friendly to the very creditors that pushed a family into bankruptcy.
The deteriorating economy make bankruptcy a more urgent national issues. Bankruptcy and consumer finance are issues where the money and power is all on one side and the middle class families are on the other. It is also an area where both candidates have an on-the-record history. They can show what walk they have walked before they became candidates for president. McCain has carried big financial institutions, while Obama has worked for families.
Courtesy of the House Majority Leader's office:
FLOOR SCHEDULE FOR TUESDAY, JULY 8, 2008
Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.
Suspensions (8 Bills):
- H.R. 5741 - To amend the High Seas Drift net Fishing Moratorium Protection Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to improve the conservation of sharks (Rep. Bordallo - Natural Resources)
- H.R. 3981 - To authorize the Preserve America Program and Save America's Treasures Program, and for other purposes (Rep. Miller (NC) - Natural Resources)
- H.R. 1423 - To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to lease a portion of a visitor center to be constructed outside the boundary of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter County, Indiana, and for other purposes (Rep. Visclosky - Natural Resources)
- H.R. 4199 - To amend the Dayton Aviation Heritage Preservation Act of 1992 to add sites to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and for other purposes (Rep. Turner – Natural Resources)
- H.R. 802 - Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2008 (Rep. Oberstar – Transportation and Infrastructure)
- H.R. 5975 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 101 West Main Street in Waterville, New York, as the "Cpl. John P. Sigsbee Post Office" (Rep. Arcuri – Oversight and Government Reform)
- H.R. 6061 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 219 East Main Street in West Frankfort, Illinois, as the "Kenneth James Gray Post Office Building" (Rep. Costello – Oversight and Government Reform)
- H.R. 6092 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 101 Tallapoosa Street in Bremen, Georgia, as the "Sergeant Paul Saylor Post Office Building" (Rep. Gingrey – Oversight and Government Reform)
Up to one hour of morning business, 10 minute limitations.
Recess from 12:30pm - 2:15pm for the weekly caucus luncheons.
There will be No Roll Call Votes during today's session of the Senate due to the funeral services of former Senator Jesse Helms.
Day one of the Senate's FISA consideration starts today. Debate begins on the bill and three amendments: Feingold-Dodd, Specter and Bingaman. But actual votes on those amendments, and then votes on cloture on the bill and passage of the bill will be postponed until Wednesday. (How? By unanimous consent agreement. That's how the Senate typically sets its schedule, unlike the House where the Speaker invokes a standing rule to postpone votes.)
Oh, P.S., a little reminder:
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said he’s not going to let his effort to impeach President Bush die a quiet death in committee.
He said Wednesday that he’ll bring his resolution back in 30 days if the Judiciary Committee, to which it was referred Wednesday, doesn’t act on it.
Thirty days from the date his resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee is July 11th -- this Friday.
And on a related note: Karl Rove's subpoena comes due on Thursday, the 10th. He's not coming.
Today Tomorrow the Democrats in DC, led by the nominee of the party, will capitulate to the 23% approval rating Bush led GOP on FISA. The NYTimes Ed Board writes:
Congress has been far too compliant as President Bush undermined the Bill of Rights and the balance of powers. It now has a chance to undo some of that damage if it has the courage and good sense to stand up to the White House and for the Constitution. The Senate should reject a bill this week that would needlessly expand the governments ability to spy on Americans and ensure that the country never learns the full extent of President Bushs unlawful wiretapping. The bill dangerously weakens the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.
. . . Senator John McCain, the presumed Republican nominee for president, has supported the weakening of FISA. Senator Barack Obama vowed in January (when he was still fighting for the Democratic nomination) that he would filibuster against immunity. Now he says he will vote for an imperfect bill and fix it if he wins. Sound familiar? Proponents of the FISA deal say companies should not be punished for cooperating with the government. Thats Washington-speak for a cover-up. The purpose of withholding immunity is not to punish but to preserve the only chance of unearthing the details of Mr. Bushs outlaw eavesdropping. . . .
Restoring some of the protections taken away by an earlier law while creating new loopholes in the Constitution is not a compromise. It is a failure of leadership.
Hoyerism continues to rule supreme in the Democratic Party, in no small measure due to our nominee, Barack Obama.
By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only
Just days after a key U.S. stocks index posted its worst month since the Great Depression, three global investment banks are predicting the biggest second-half rally in more than 25 years.
Market strategists at Deutsche Bank AG (DB), Lehman Brothers Holdings…
From Spiegel.de we read “The Shrinking Influence of the US Federal Reserve” by Gabor Steingart, thankfully translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.
The article starts out with the fact that governments around the freaking world have been creating more and…
Having failed to privatize Social Security, the Bush Administration is trying to wreck Medicare on its way out the door, but MDs are mad as hell, and they're taking it out on Congressional Republicans.
The focus this week is on trying to undo a 10.6 percent cut in payment to care providers for millions of older Americans. Before the Fourth of July recess, the House passed a bill to prevent the Medicare pay cut by a vote of 355 to 59. In the Senate, Republicans blocked efforts to take up the bill, so the cut took effect on July 1st.
Now the AMA and its incensed members are targeting such former friends as Sens. John Sununu, Roger Wicker and Arlen Specter, who all voted against cloture.
As with the SCHIP legislation to expand children's health care coverage, Bush and his allies are favoring the insurance industry over a government program that is working well for those who need it most.
If the new reimbursement rates were to stand, more doctors would be joining the legions of those who refuse to take on Medicare patients as economically unsound for their practices.
Perhaps the next step would be the "Ice Floe HMO" solution favored by one in three British doctors who would deny treatment to the old "if it were unlikely to do them good for long."
Unless Republicans relent, as they almost surely will, members of the AARP are certain to send them a don't-get-well message in November.
Read The Full Article:
Vice President Dick Cheney's office apparently worked to cut swaths of the Center for Disease Control's congressional testimony on the effects of greenhouse gases.
The information was revealed in a letter from recently-resigned associate deputy EPA administrator, Jason Burnett, obtained by the AP, to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA):
"The Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony (concerning) ... any discussions of the human health consequences of climate change," Burnett has told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
. . . The letter by Burnett for the first time suggests that Cheney's office was deeply involved in downplaying the impacts of climate change as related to public health and welfare, Senate investigators believe.
Cheney's office also objected last January over congressional testimony by Administrator Johnson that "greenhouse gas emissions harm the environment."
An official in Cheney's office "called to tell me that his office wanted the language changed" with references to climate change harming the environment deleted, Burnett said. Nevertheless, the phrase was left in Johnson's testimony.
Burnett left the EPA in June after disagreements over the "agency's response to climate change":
The White House, at the urging of Cheney's office, "requested that I work with CDC to remove from the testimony any discussion of the human health consequences of climate change," wrote Burnett.
"CEQ contacted me to argue that I could best keep options open for the (EPA) administrator (on regulating carbon dioxide) if I would convince CDC to delete particular sections of their testimony," Burnett said in the letter to Boxer.
But he said he refused to press CDC on the deletions because he believed the CDC's draft testimony was "fundamentally accurate."
Are the Rove proteges reshaping McCain's campaign? Are they cracking down on the cringey laugh and turning McCain into just one more bland teleprompter jockey? And what's the progress on scoring the budget victory numbers? We bring you all up to date[...]
Read The Full Article:
That's the title of the new McCain bio ad just released that takes a few shots at Hope.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Last October, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the ?Human Impacts of Global Warming.? Gerberding told the committee that global warming ?is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans,? but gave few specifics, instead focusing on CDC?s current preparation plans.
CDC officials revealed that the reason for the weak testimony was that the White House had heavily edited Gerberding?s testimony, which originally was longer and had more “information on health risks“:
?It was eviscerated,? said a CDC official, familiar with both versions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the review process.
The official said that while it is customary for testimony to be changed in a White House review, these changes were particularly ?heavy-handed,? with the document cut from its original 14 pages to four. It was six pages as presented to the Senate committee.
The White House tried denying that it had “watered down” Gerberding’s testimony, but Press Secretary Dana Perino later admitted that the Office of Management and Budget had redacted testimony that contained “broad characterizations about climate change science that didn’t align with the IPCC.”
A new letter from former EPA administration official Jason Burnett, however, reveals that the White House was lying. In fact, Vice President Cheney called for the deletions because he feared tough testimony by Gerberding might make it harder for the Bush administration to avoid regulating greenhouse gas emissions:
The White House, at the urging of Cheney’s office, “requested that I work with CDC to remove from the testimony any discussion of the human health consequences of climate change,” wrote Burnett.
“CEQ [Council on Environmental Quality] contacted me to argue that I could best keep options open for the (EPA) administrator (on regulating carbon dioxide) if I would convince CDC to delete particular sections of their testimony,” Burnett said in the letter to Boxer.
The White House?s deletions — which were “overwhelmingly denounced” by scientists and environmental health experts — included ?details on how many people might be adversely affected because of increased warming and the scientific basis for some of the CDC?s analysis on what kinds of diseases might be spread in a warmer climate and rising sea levels.? (See the unredacted testimony here.)