Economy & Budget

Creep of the Week: PennyMac's Stanford L. Kurland

Ever since President Obama announced his plan to forestall foreclosures, many of those lucky enough to have burned their mortgages have angrily suggested that less frugal homeowners get the Creep of the Week award.

While acknowledging such prodigal-neighbor-resentment, I am giving the award this week to a much more malevolent, seriously more depraved subprime creep: Stanford L. Kurland. This is a guy who profited from creation of the sub-prime mortgage crisis as former president of Countrywide Financial and who is now profiting from the wreckage caused by those sub-prime mortgages – both at the expense of taxpayers.

The best description of this appeared in the New York Times in a column by op-ed writer Gail Collins: “It’s like Jeffrey Dahmer selling body parts to a clinic.” Or this, in a Times story by Eric Lipton: “It is sort of like the arsonist who sets fire to the house and then buys up the charred remains and resells it.” That’s from Margo Saunders, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center. The center tried to stop abusive lending by the likes of Countrywide, which during the heyday of sub-prime was the largest mortgage lender in the nation but in the past nine months has been sued by several states contending it defrauded borrowers by hawking defective mortgages that quickly went to foreclosure.

Create a Crisis Investigation Select Committee (Sen. Byron Dorgan)

The American people deserve to know how this crisis happened; they deserve to know why they are on the hook for trillions of dollars bailing out banks and Wall Street. Congressional oversight needs to happen and happen fast. We simply cannot afford to have a crisis of this magnitude ever happen again. I compliment the standing committees for working overtime just trying to keep up and stop the crisis from getting worse. But, they are overworked and overwhelmed. Only a select committee, focusing full-time on how the crisis happened, will provide the comprehensive and thorough investigation that the American people deserve.

Brown Addresses Economy, G-20

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, urging the U.S. to create global solutions to fight the 'economic hurricane.'


Investigating the Economic Crisis

Senators Dorgan(D-N.D) and McCain(R-Ariz.) propose legislation that would put a 7-member Senate committee at the front of investigating what went wrong with the financial markets.


Edward Liddy, Come Back to Earth (Rep. Elijah Cummings)

Although I am not surprised that AIG came back to beg the government for additional taxpayer assistance, I am disturbed that it happened so soon -- particularly after CEO Edward Liddy told me on January 15 that he expected to re-pay the government early. To me, this means that Liddy was either once again being less than honest or that he has no idea what is happening with his company -- and both of these scenarios are unacceptable.

American taxpayers have already invested so much in keeping AIG afloat because of the risks to our financial system posed by the obligations the company is supporting, and it is important that we continue to do everything we can to keep it from going under. However, there are still too many unanswered questions about how AIG spent its first portion of TARP assistance. We cannot allow the pattern of deception by this company to continue. Transparency and accountability are more critical than ever.


House GOP: Obama's Budget is a Job Killer

President Obama released his $3.55 trillion budget plan Thursday. House Republicans are calling it a job killer that would raise taxes for all Americans, while Democrats welcomed the plan that they say will do just the opposite.


Rep. Dave Obey: Chief Architect of Plan for America's Recovery (Gov. Jim Doyle)

Wisconsin and our entire nation are on the road to recovery thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, whose chief architect is Wisconsin's own Congressman Dave Obey.

The Recovery and Reinvestment package is critical to Wisconsin and every state in the nation. I am grateful to all of the members of our Congressional Delegation who supported it, but especially Congressman Obey.

Ukraine Looks for Economic Growth

Senator Jack Reed spoke at an event sponsored by the Ukrainian Foundation for Effective Governance and The Hill about taking action to fix the global economy.


Assessing the Government's Stock Portfolio (Rep. Michele Bachmann)

I read an interesting article today in The Hill newspaper. It turns out that the U.S. Government has lost $86.5 billion of the money they put towards last October's Wall Street bailout in the stock market.

To give you some background on this, last fall in exchange for a sizable cash injection to struggling financial companies, the government received preferred stock from companies that received funding as part of the Capital Purchase Program. The rationale was that as a company began to turn around their financial situation as a result of the funding, their stock price would increase and the government would reap the benefits. However, according to a report conducted by the nonpartisan research think thank Ethisphere, a different picture is taking shape.
Read More... Transparency and Expectations

The launch of as an accountability tool for the public exhibits the spirit of President Obama's promise to use the Internet to connect citizens with vital government information, particularly in the case of the $787 billion stimulus bill. What must be noted first is that marks a crucial moment in the government's use of the Web to provide transparency and accountability. As the Sunlight Foundation's John Wonderlich wrote, "The Internet has been recognized as having a central – even fundamental – role in enabling oversight and public access." Without this public expectation, there would be no discussion of the merits of the transparency on the actual site.