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Congress Looks to Investigate Wall Street

May 5, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Are we ready to start looking back at the origins of our crisis and ask questions about what went wrong? Congress thinks so. The House on Wednesday is expected to follow the Senate's lead in approving legislation to establish a bipartisan Financial Markets Commission, made up of lawyers, economists and regulators, to examine the causes, both global and domestic, of the economic crisis.

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O M.I.A.

May 4, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

I was noticing the lack of public Obama support last week when cramdown went down in the Senate.Via the Washington Independent, I see that the New York Times was noticing as well. The Obama administration sat by last week as 12 Senate Democrats joined 39 Senate Republicans to block a vote on an amendment that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to modify troubled mortgages. Senator Obama campaigned on the provision. And President Obama made its passage part of his antiforeclosure plan. It...

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House Takes on the Subprime Mortgage Industry

May 4, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Following their action on the Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights Act last week, the House is continuing this week to try and fix some of the regulatory lapses that contributed to the consumer debt explosion that is at the center of our current economic crisis. This week, the House will take up a bill to reform and regulate the subprime mortgage lending industry -- the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act.

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Durbin's Cramdown Amendment

April 30, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Opponents to cramdown generally argue that allowing judges to modify mortgages for homeowners who enter bankruptcy would create ongoing uncertainty for mortgage lenders and would lead to higher interest rates for future borrowers. But Senator Durbin's cramdown amendment (.pdf), which was defeated today by the Senate, contains language specifically designed to prevent that kind of problem. Fist, in Section 503, entitled "Authority to Modify Certain Mortgages," it specifies that only mortgages ...

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All Carrot, No Stick

April 29, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

It's looking increasingly likely that cramdown, a provision giving judges the power to reduce mortgage principals and interest rates for homeowners in bankruptcy, will be removed from the the housing bill (H.R. 1106) this week by the Senate. Of the two avenues for reworking troubled mortgages in President Obama's housing plan, cramdown is the one that would not give more taxpayer money to banks. It would be free of cost to taxpayers while the other avenue, incentive payments for voluntarily lo...

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Taking out the Flu Pandemic Money

April 27, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

I always love showing off our bill text comparison tool, which displays changes to bills as they go through the legislative process in crossed-out red for striken text and green for text that has been added. The Huffington Post's reporting that the GOP stripped flue pandemic preparedness money from the stimulus (H.R. 1 ) gives me a perfect opportunity to do so. Taking a quick look at the Senate amendment (2) version that was pushed by Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME], Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] and o...

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Save My Pawn Shop

April 12, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Pawn shop owners are worried that Sen. Durbin's bill to cap interest rates on all kinds of loans at 36 percent would put them all out of business. The high-interest, short-term loans that pawnbrokers give out, backed by undervalued jewelry, camera, instruments and the like, would be covered under the bill.

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Congress Going Easy on Payday Loan Dealers

April 8, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

In light of our current debt-fueled economic crisis, Congress is looking at reforming one of the most predatory forms of lending -- payday loans. But according to a range of consumer, community and civil rights groups the leading bill in Congress to deal with the issue, the Payday Loan Reform Act of 2009, would actually protect the "predatory payday loan business model and will stall or stop the significant progress that has been made at the state level to curb usurious lending."

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In February, President Obama announced a plan to help families with troubled mortgages stay in their home. One of the key components of the plan, giving judges the power to modify loans for homeowners in bankruptcy, requires approval from Congress (H.R. 1106), but Senate moderates are threatening to block it for now and to push for a weaker version of the provision down the road.

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Vote Switchers - From Tranche 1 to Tranche 2

January 22, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

In a symbolic vote yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives voted against releasing the second $350 billion of financial bailout money for use by the Obama administration. The vote was symbolic-only for two reasons: (1) The Senate already voted last week to give Obama the funds, making it impossible for Congress to present Obama with a joint resolution of disapproval as spelled out in section 115 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and (2) even if they could jointly approve...

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