Friday, January 11th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the new “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB),” an all-powerful agency vested with the power to limit the choices of consumers in financial markets, making it harder and more expensive to obtain credit. This unaccountable agency operates autonomously within the Federal Reserve and will not be subjected to congressional appropriations or oversight.
Today, the CFPB announced its new statist mandates on mortgage lending institutions and banks, limiting the ability of people to obtain mortgages. Here is the gist of it from CQ (subscription required):
Under the proposed rule, lenders would have to examine consumers’ financial information, including employment status, income and assets, debt and credit history. Lenders could not offer loans with little or no documentation, which was a hallmark of the subprime era.
Borrowers would need to have sufficient assets or income to repay their loan. Lenders would be required to evaluate a borrower’s long-term ability to repay, rather than simply the ability to do so during an initial period.
The rule would set new underwriting standards that lenders would have to meet in order for loans to be considered “qualified mortgages,” a status that provides some protection against future liability. Going forward, the new standard is expected to largely define the type of mortgages that will be available.
For a mortgage to be qualified, it cannot require the borrower to pay excessive points or include risky features. Those would include a term longer than 30 years, interest-only payments or negative-amortization payments that increase the principal amount of the loan.
In an effort to ensure that consumers are able to meet financial obligations in addition to homeownership, qualified mortgages will generally be unavailable to people with debt-to-income ratios greater than 43 percent.
Sounds pretty much like commonsense, right? Banks should only lend to those who have the ability to pay it back? So why would banks need these new regulations?
This is a consummate example of the arsonist acting like the firefighter. Obama’s allies fought for years to create entire offices and programs dedicated to forcing banks to underwrite risky mortgages under the dubious goal of universal home ownership. Concurrently, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought up the lion’s share of the subprime mortgage securities and fueled the toxic asset bubble. The bubble popped, bringing down the entire economy with it.
All we have to show for it is $140 billion in taxpayer bailouts for Freddie/Fannie and a $16.3 billion shortfall at the Federal Housing Administration.
When Obama was a young community organizer, he made a lot of money off of instigating lawsuits against banks for so-called “red-lining.” In addition, let’s not forget that he is a big fan of the Community Reinvestment Act, which is the catalyst for risky mortgages.
Yesterday, I caught up with Congressman David Schweikert (R-AZ), who sat on the Financial Services subcommittee with jurisdiction over housing policy in last Congress. He is not impressed with Obama’s sudden aversion to risky loans. “It is incomprehensible to me how the President can support a program like the Community Reinvestment Act. This government litmus test, amended during the Clinton Administration, played a key role in the housing market crash five years ago. How much more proof do we need to see that the President continues to take us down the wrong path to recovery?”
Additionally, Obama has championed the HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) and HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program) programs, which provide refinancing to high-risk underwater applicants. He backs the Menendez bill, which would essentially open the floodgates on refinancing by eliminating most of the already lax qualifications for refinancing currently in place.
And evidently, he has no problems with 3% down loans from the FHA, so long as the taxpayer is shouldering the risk.
Obama is forcing private institutions to abide by guidelines that are antithetical to the goals he has pursued through government and as a community organizer – the very goals that have encouraged and coerced banks to engage in risky lending practices for years.
What’s next? Will he hire Barney Frank to be the next housing czar?
Cross-posted from RedState.com
Thursday, January 10th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
It’s not enough to vote conservative. We need members of Congress to live the lives of conservatives. At a time when every aspect of our traditional American value system is under assault, we need strong leaders who can defend those values through word and deed.
What has long distinguished our party from the Democrats is that we don’t tolerate immorality among our ranks. Adultery should not serve as a resume enhancer.
To that end, conservatives have a golden opportunity in midland Tennessee to show the country that we live by the standard to which we have set for ourselves. Scott DesJarlais, who was elected to serve conservative TN-4 in 2010, has taken the word hypocrisy to a new level. For those who have not heard the story by now, here is what the Chattanooga Times Free Press obtained from DesJarlais’ divorce records last November, after they were leaked by the local Democrats:
A decade before calling himself “a consistent supporter of pro-life values,” Tennessee physician and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais supported his ex-wife’s decision to get two abortions before their marriage, according to the congressman’s sworn testimony during his divorce trial.
Obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the couple’s 2001 trial transcript also confirms DesJarlais had sexual relationships with at least two patients, three coworkers and a drug representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn. During one affair with a female patient, DesJarlais prescribed her drugs, gave her an $875 watch and bought her a plane ticket to Las Vegas, records show. [...]
The 679-page transcript reveals new details about DesJarlais’ interactions with a 24-year-old-patient, who claimed she became pregnant with DesJarlais’ child during a short fling in 2000 and that the doctor later pressed her to have an abortion.
DesJarlais, who is now 48 years old, admitted in court to pressuring the woman over the phone to get an abortion, but said the whole conversation was a scheme orchestrated by him and his wife — with whom he had reconciled — to get the 24-year-old to admit she was not really pregnant.
“She goes, ‘I will have an abortion. This will never be a problem of yours,’” DesJarlais said. “And I think that she was trying to get me to pay her money and I refused to because there was no proof of the pregnancy.”
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
For those of us who understand the Obama administration and the gutter ideology of liberalism that its members subscribe to, the selection of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense was no surprise. They all believe in the moral equivalence between Israel and the so-called Palestinians. They all intuitively sympathize with the plight of the radical Islamists, at least to an extent. They all shrug off the threat that is being posed to the free world by Iran and its affiliated Islamist groups.
And so does Chuck Hagel.
As such, it is quite entertaining to watch certain Democrats, like Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin, as well as some Democrat organizations, express some reservation about the impending nomination of Hagel to the Pentagon.
Here’s a riddle for you: Which job is more relevant for our relations with Israel and Iran – Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State? Obviously, while both positions wield broad influence over an administration’s foreign policy, the Secretary of State is the leader on diplomatic relations with foreign countries. Hillary Clinton has always been pro-Palestinian, and as SecState, she repeatedly pressured Israel to ease checkpoints and consistently lampooned them for constructing homes in their own capital. Yet, these same people and organizations on the left had nothing but praise for her during her confirmation, and they still think the world of her.
So why the sudden recalcitrance for Hagel from some Democrat pro-Israel groups?
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
What a difference a year makes when it comes to the attitude of Republicans regarding the debt ceiling.
In 2011, Republican leaders spent the incipient months of the debt ceiling fight publicly stating that they would ultimately raise the debt ceiling. They cloddishly communicated to the Democrats the reality that they would never engage in brinkmanship by declining to raise the debt ceiling after Tim Geithner’s arbitrary deadline of August 1, 2011. Consequently, despite Obama’s dismal approval numbers, he felt confident he’d be able to ride out the storm until the final days, when Republicans would undoubtedly cave.
And boy did they cave.
Not only did they grant Obama a free $2.1 trillion debt card to take him past the election, they passed the Budget [out of] Control Act, which locked in Obama’s spending levels for 10 years, thereby obviating any future leverage in annual budget fights. The only real cuts that emerged from the deal were defense cuts, which gratuitously opened a schism between defense hawks and fiscal conservatives to this day.
What do we have to show for it? A downgraded credit rating and a new debt ceiling crisis 17 months later.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 by Wendell Talley and is filed under Blog
There is a lot of quit in conservatives these days. From all the white flags of surrender being waived in Commentary Magazine’s symposium on the future of conservatism one could make a large, comfortable hammock from which to watch our society burn to cinders.
A distillation of what can be found in the symposium:
Don’t talk about marriage, you’re a bigot. Don’t talk about immigration — you’re a racist. Don’t talk to blacks or Mexicans — they’re racists. Don’t talk principle — worry about policy. Don’t talk policy — ours are outdated. Don’t talk about the welfare state — learn to manage it. Don’t raise your voice — you’ll seem unhinged. Don’t talk about freedom — it’s dangerous and you’ll be misunderstood. And don’t talk about drugs — unless you’ve got some you want to share.
Shut up, they explained.
Wait for the country to collapse — then voters will listen to us. Wait until we have more babies than leftists –than we won’t have to argue with them since we’ll outnumber them. Wait for a popular leader to rise — he’ll be able to speak for us.
Get younger. More hip. Less white. More green.
Brush your teeth. Wash behind your ears. Put that down — you don’t know where it’s been!
Ok. That last part was made up. And to be fair there were many, many excellent thoughts and ideas presented. It is worth the five bucks to read the whole thing as we say in the internet linking world.
Once upon a time conservatives were described (by a famously non-conservative writer) as people with, “…a sense of social and national responsibility which absorbs and sometimes overrides his loyalty to his class. The conservative believes in freedom under law for all and recognizes his obligation to make all citizens members of the community. He is a constitutionalist and therefore a libertarian and a pluralist…he is a believer in reciprocal obligations and social welfare.”
That isn’t the description of people or a movement that pulls down the portcullis to hide from/wait out a hostile culture because it lost an election.
Changing our message would be a concession that we are the villains of the Left’s imagination. Withholding our message would frame us as vulture ideologues waiting to rule over a dead nation. And joining the parade of faddish passions that march noisily through societies every generation would reveal us to not be conservatives at all — merely craven populists.
Conservatives revel in going against the tide. We relish pointing out the inconsistencies in liberal conventional wisdom. We believe in the dignity of the human being and we fight for the institutions that preserve it. Sitting out and shutting up may seem a good move for front running cranks but it is not an option for conservatives.
There are a lot fights to win in the coming days beginning with the debt ceiling.
Shake off the loss. It won’t be the last but it will be a lasting one if we cede the floor now to the low and mean in our politics.
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
In the field of politics, you either drive the narrative or become a victim of the narrative. Unfortunately, for most of the 112th Congress, the GOP-controlled House abdicated their power and became a victim of the political narrative driven by Obama and the Democrat Senate.
Over the past two years, the House has been in recess almost every other week. Additionally, a large chunk of the days in session were spent passing banal suspension votes. Many conservatives are exuberant whenever Congress is out of session. “Thank God, the Republic is safe,” they say. I disagree. Ideally, if Congress would have merely served as a steward for our Constitutional Republic over the past 100 years, a relaxed schedule would be appropriate. However, with government creeping into every facet of our economy and private lives with interventions, subsidies, regulations, and competition, we need an activist Congress just to restore our Republic.
We all understand that with control of just one body of government, we can’t enact these changes unilaterally; however, why should that stop us from driving the narrative by tackling every area of policy that needs reform? By ceding our legislative days to recess and suspension bills, we have allowed the remaining time in the House to be consumed with Democrat-contrived cliffs and deadlines to take up “must-pass” [big government] legislation. To that end, we are always caught playing defense, in the incorrigible predicament of saying no to everything.
The House is out of session this week. What is the first bill they will consider next week? The Obama/Senate Sandy relief bill, which is rife with pork and extraneous items on Obama’s Christmas shopping list. We are forced to play defense on a very sensitive issue.
Monday, January 7th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
There is no breathing room this year for those of us who fight endless GOP capitulations in Washington. Within the first few weeks of the new session, we must confront a grave assault on the Filibuster in the Senate.
Harry Reid is plotting some version of the “nuclear option” to limit the filibuster when the Senate convenes to adopt the rules package for the new Congress. It essentially works like this. Every rules change in the Senate requires a 67-vote threshold to adopt the change. Harry Reid is offering the absurd argument that the Senate is not a continuous body, and is therefore not governed by the rules of the previous session on the first day of the new Congress (before the rules package is adopted). With that in mind, he plans to abolish the filibuster on “the motion to proceed” and limit the minority’s ability to offer amendments when they vote on the rules package. He plans to do this with a simple majority vote.
Although the Senate already convened last Thursday, Reid used a parliamentary procedure blocking any adjournment of the Senate, so that the body will technically remain in its first “legislative day.” This will provide him with the opportunity to pull the trigger later this month.
Aside for the fact that this represents an egregious power grab, especially in light of his refusal to allow Republicans to offer amendments to bills, his justification to change the rule is based upon a falsehood. The Senate is absolutely a continuous body, as represented by staggering terms with Senators elected for 6 years.
The reason why filibusters have become so pervasive, even on the motion to proceed with debate, is because the filibuster is the only leverage Republicans have to force through a mere vote on their amendments. Harry Reid always uses a parliamentary maneuver to fill the amendment tree with pro forma amendments before anyone can offer anything. As such, an effort on the part of Republicans to give into this unfair and unbinding power grab would be suicidal to their own interests.
Monday, January 7th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
If we really believe that Obamacare is the motherload of all entitlements; that it will create permanent dependency for tens of millions of Americans; that it will induce unsustainable inflationary pressure on the cost of healthcare and health insurance; that it will saddle the next generation with crippling debt, why would we ever stop fighting it?
Unfortunately, it appears that many within the GOP have surrendered the field to this new leviathan. Republicans failed to even make the Obamacare tax hikes – the most unpopular part of the law – an issue during the tax negotiations. So what is in store for the next Congress?
Well, here is what Jack Kingston (R-GA), the incoming chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on healthcare, had to say about the law:
“I don’t want to go in there saying, ‘By golly, there’s a new sheriff in town,’” the Savannah resident told POLITICO. “Obamacare has been the law of the land, and it is getting implemented. We have to work in that context.”
The Politico article goes on to say that Kingston is basically committed to passing a bipartisan appropriations bill to fund the HHS and Obamacare.
Friday, January 4th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog
We’re proud that Madison Project candidates – Ron DeSantis, Roger Williams, Kerry Bentivolio, Mark Meadows, and Tom Cotton – stood strong in the face of such a tough vote.
In one of the last votes of 2012, the Senate passed Obama’s bloated Sandy “relief” bill (H.R. 1) 62-32. The $60.4 billion price tag makes this the most expensive disaster aid bill on record. It’s full of special interest projects that have nothing to do with the emergency, as witnessed by the fact that 64% of the funds will not be spent until FY 2015. [Taxpayers for Commonsense has a good rundown of the wasteful provision.] Nonetheless, the bill passed with the support of 12 Republicans. However, due to the expiration of the 112th Congress this week, the bill expired, requiring a new bill to originate in the House.
Earlier today, the House restarted the process in the new Congress by commencing with the vital disaster funding in a separate bill (H.R. 41). They passed a $9.7 billion package that dealt with immediate disaster relief. The bill increased the borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program from $20,725,000,000 to $30,425,000,000. While conservatives agree with the imperative of passing this (and only this) component of the disaster package, it is problematic that the funding was not offset. Congress designated the funding as emergency spending and therefore not subject to any discretionary or disaster relief spending caps established by the Budget Control Act. If we ever plan to get our budget under control, we must offset even this type of emergency spending. There are plenty of areas where we could find an extra $10 billion to cut.
Moreover, while we owe it to the Sandy victims to deal with the immediate problem, we must enact long-term reforms for the flood insurance program. The program already owes taxpayers $18 billion in borrowed funds from the last bailout. Congress passed a bill in 2011 that was supposed to solve the very problems that we are dealing with now. At some point, we must chart a course towards privatization of this institution. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the new chairman of the Financial Services Committee, spoke strongly about this on the House floor and has promised to bring major reform legislation to the floor this year.
Friday, January 4th, 2013 by Daniel Horowitz and is filed under Blog, Issues
We have been admonished over the past few years for advocating for voter ID laws. The left has been accusing us of using such commonsense constitutional protections to suppress minority turnout. Well, the results of the 2012 elections should countermand that fallacious allegation. Unfortunately, opponents of fair elections will continue to combat voter ID laws.
According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, the reason why Obama fared so well last November was not necessarily because blacks have grown as a share of the population, but because they have grown as a share of the vote. In fact, it appears that blacks voted at a higher rate than whites for the first time. Yes, this is after a number of states implemented voter ID laws.
This is one salient point lost amidst all the punditry over the election results. How can blacks (an other minorities) enjoy their best turnout election after so many states enacted laws which were supposed to prevent them from voting? The answer is quite simple. Voter ID laws preserve fair election for everyone in this country.