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This is an aggregate blog of our best material at A World of Progress, an online Magazine for the Progressive Human. AWOP covers politics, the environment, GLBTQ issues, living, historical context of the days news plus international coverage.


MARCH 2, 2012 8:51AM

Progressive breakfast 3/2

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Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to effect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.

MORNING MESSAGE: Who Is Keeping DeMarco In Charge Of Housing?’s Richard Eskow: ”George W. Bush brought a far-right ideologue named Edward DeMarco into the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which controls Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and therefore has power over more than half the mortgages in the country. Now DeMarco’s Acting Director of the FHFA, and where those mortgages are concerned he’s king. Three years after becoming President, Barack Obama can’t get his own appointee into the job – because of GOP Sen. Richard Shelby … President Obama made a very moderate choice when he appointed Joseph Smith to replace DeMarco. … That didn’t stop Shelby from claiming, with characteristic discourtesy and disrespect, that Mr. Smith would be a ‘lapdog’ for the Administration. Shelby then resorted to the characteristic procedural chicanery for which he has become so infamous, and killed Mr. Smith’s nomination by placing another ‘hold’ on it. And that’s how America’s mortgages fell under the iron fist of the unelected Shelby/DeMarco regime.”

Pressure Rising On DeMarco

More and more government officials pressing FHFA’s Edward DeMarco to quit resisting mortgage reform. Politico: ”For months, [Rep. Elijah] Cummings has been demanding DeMarco offer debt reduction for homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages … now, with a range of supporters that includes California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, the Baltimore Democrat is aiming to beat DeMarco’s resistance …”

Click here to tell DeMarco ”help underwater homeowners — or be removed.”

Former Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Chair Phil Angelides presses WH to robustly fund new bank investigation, in NYT oped: ”Claims of financial fraud against companies like Citigroup and Bank of America have been settled for pennies on the dollar, with no admission of wrongdoing … Meager resources have been applied to investigate the financial assault on our country … the [new] working group must have a strong and independent staff with the budget, expertise and training to do the job. This is vital given the bureaucratic inertia so far. Mr. Holder’s commitment of 55 lawyers, investigators and other staff members is a start, but far short of what is needed.”

Still no final language on foreclosure fraud settlement. HuffPost: ”…the deal … isn’t final until the government files it in federal court. Until then, the public is left to guess whether the settlement is as tough on the banks as the government claims and whether the promised enforcement mechanisms to ensure banks are playing by the rules have real teeth.”

People moving their money from banks to credit unions. LAT: ”Consumers fed up with the rising tide of bank fees helped the nation’s credit unions more than double their number of new customers last year, new figures show. More than 1.3 million Americans opened new credit union accounts last year, up from less than 600,000 in 2010…”

President Renews Effort To End Oil Subsidies

President pushes to end subsidies for Big Oil. The Hill: ”…Obama is betting that the plan will resonate with the public amid high gas prices and soaring oil company profits … The GOP hopes to pin voter anger over high gas prices on Obama. They argue Obama hasn’t done enough to expand domestic drilling and criticize his rejection of the Keystone oil XL pipeline as contributing to higher prices.”

President also derides conservative obsession with drilling. HuffPost: ”‘Anybody who tells you that we can just drill our way out of this problem does not know what they’re talking about, or they’re not telling you the truth — one or the other,’ Obama said at an event held in New Hampshire to tout his energy policies. He noted that, in fact, oil production in the United States has hit its highest level in eight years, that more rigs are operating in the U.S. than in the rest of the world combined, that more than 400 drilling permits have been granted since the massive BP oil spill, and that for the first time in 13 years, oil imports account for less than half of all U.S. oil consumption.”

GOP Won’t Stop Fighting Contraception

After Senate defeats GOP anti-contraception bill, Republicans refuse to give up. Politico: ”The most likely path ahead is in the House. At a press conference shortly before the Senate vote, House Speaker John Boehner said he’s still looking at options for overturning the Obama administration’s policy.”

63% back President’s contraception rule in Kaiser poll. NYT: ”While 8 in 10 Democrats said they supported requiring birth control coverage, only 4 in 10 Republicans did. Six in 10 people calling themselves independents voiced approval … Just over half of all Republicans ages 18 to 49 supported requiring contraceptive coverage, while only 33 percent of Republicans ages 50 and higher did so.”

GOP Train Wreck On Transportation Jobs Bill

House GOP leaders “don’t know what to do” to get a transportion jobs bill passed. Politico: ”They originally planned to have the bill completed by mid-February. Now, it won’t even be on the floor next week. Many Republicans involved say a stopgap measure to avert a shutdown of the nation’s infrastructure building apparatus on March 31 is likely. But there are only 12 legislative days left before current policy expires … Highway programs expire at the end of March, and if the House cannot come to terms with how it wants to extend the funding, states will no longer get reimbursed for their highway projects.”

Auto sales spike, further evidence of successful restructuring by Obama administration. Bloomberg: ”U.S. auto sales accelerated to the fastest pace in four years … GM deliveries rose 1.1 percent to 209,306 cars and light trucks, beating analysts’ estimates for a 4.8 percent decrease. Chrysler sales increased 40 percent to 133,521 and Ford Motor Co. climbed 14 percent to 178,644 … The improving economy may have blunted the impact of rising gasoline prices …”

Public colleges cut back on critical job training programs. NYT: ”Technical, engineering and health care expertise are among the few skills in huge demand even in today’s lackluster job market. They are also, unfortunately, some of the most expensive subjects to teach. As a result, state colleges in Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Florida and Texas have eliminated entire engineering and computer science departments. At one community college in North Carolina — a state with a severe nursing shortage — nursing program applicants so outnumber available slots that there is a waiting list just to get on the waiting list … During and immediately after the last few recessions, states slashed financing for colleges. Then when the economy recovered, most states never fully restored the money …”

Breakfast Sides

NYT’s Paul Krugman slams GOP prez hopefuls for deficit hypocrisy: ”…all four significant Republican presidential candidates still standing are fiscal phonies. They issue apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of government debt and, in the name of deficit reduction, demand savage cuts in programs that protect the middle class and the poor. But then they propose squandering all the money thereby saved — and much, much more — on tax cuts for the rich.”

Koch brothers attempting “hostile takeover” of Cato Institute to expand their influence. W. Post: ”The lawsuit centers on the fate of the shares owned by [William] Niskanen, who died in October. The Koch brothers contend that they have the option to buy Niskanen’s shares, but no offer has been made to them, according to the lawsuit … Cato’s board chairman, Bob Levy, said in an interview that the Koch brothers, who have the power to appoint half of the board, have been choosing ‘Koch operatives’ for members, with an eye to push Cato toward support of the Republican Party.”


BOOK EXCERPT — The latest installment from Richard Kirsch’s “Fighting for Our Health: ”…at crucial times when the law was hearing its death knells, our grassroots campaign helped it rise to its feet. My book begins with the most unlikely of those mortal moments: the election of a Republican to Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate.”

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