As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Still A Working Conservative Majority On Some Issues

The proposed cram-down provisions that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify terms of primary residences, the way they can on secondary residences and yachts and all kinds of other assets, are a perfectly sensible way to give homeowners who might otherwise be out of the street after foreclosure a modicum of leverage in the process, freeing up lenders to perform loan modifications on their properties. In the end, nobody is served by millions more homes on the market and millions more homeless. But the banksters don't want to do it. They have spent millions lobbying against it because they would rather pretend that they have larger assets than they do. Perversely, a loan that will go unpaid means more to them than a modified loan that would get paid. So they are desperately trying to add loopholes and conditions and restrictions.

And because we have this group of "New Democrats" who basically parrot whatever corporate lobbyists tell them, it is a successful gambit.

House Democratic leaders have abruptly canceled votes on legislation to let bankruptcy judges reduce the principal and interest rate on mortgages for debt-strapped homeowners.

The measure, backed by President Barack Obama, is the most controversial part of a broader housing package that was expected to pass on Thursday.

It hit a snag after a group of moderates expressed concerns in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats about how the bill would affect homeowners who are still struggling to make their mortgage payments.

The banking industry has lobbied hard against the measure, mounting a successful multimillion-dollar effort last year to kill it. The House is debating the measure and leaders hope to reschedule votes for next week.

It's just revolting. The concern of "moderates" is simply a lie. Homeowners who are struggling to make payments would benefit from having their lender be more inclined to give them a lower payment. After all, we practically own the banks at this point. The least they could do is act in the interest of the majority of Americans. It's not like they'll be hurting for cash, given what is coming out about the Geithner plans for essentially unlimited refills.

This is a structural problem, where incumbents well-heeled with campaign cash have more to fear from industry and multinationals than their own constituents. A new progressive group called Accountability Now is seeking to change that dynamic.

Some of the most prominent names in progressive politics launched a major new organization on Thursday dedicated to pinpointing and aiding primary challenges against incumbent Democrats who are viewed as acting against their constituents' interests.

Accountability Now PAC will officially be based in Washington D.C., though its influence is designed to be felt in congressional districts across the country. The group will adopt an aggressive approach to pushing the Democratic Party in a progressive direction; it will actively target, raise funds, poll and campaign for primary challengers to members who are either ethically or politically out-of-touch with their voters. The goal, officials with the organization say, is to start with 25 potential races and dwindle it down to eight or 10; ultimately spending hundreds of thousands on elections that usually wouldn't be touched.

This will be looked at with an eye toward district realities. There are too many members of Congress representing deep-blue districts who equivocate to powerful special interests. There needs to be a countervailing force, and Accountability Now can become that.

The New York Times has more, although they kind of botch the story. This is a good development for the progressive movement.

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