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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Name:
    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    Barack Obama, Republican Calling himself Democrat for president

    [..]

    "There's been less emphasis from the Obama campaign on the really dysfunctional role of the financial industry in the subprime mess," says Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute. "Edwards and Clinton talk much more about regulation of the financial industry going forward, and to the extent that blame is placed, they tend to place it on the lenders for steering people into loans they couldn't afford."

    Obama's disappointing foreclosure plan stems from the centrist politics of his three chief economic advisers and his campaign's ties to Wall Street institutions opposed to increased financial regulation. David Cutler and Jeffrey Liebman are both Harvard economists who served in the Clinton Administration, and they work on market-oriented solutions to social welfare issues. Cutler advocates improving healthcare through financial incentives; Liebman, the partial privatization of Social Security.

    Austan Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago who calls himself a "centrist market economist," has been most directly involved with crafting Obama's subprime agenda. In a column last March in the New York Times, Goolsbee disputed whether "subprime lending was the leading cause of foreclosure problems," touted its benefits for credit-poor minority borrowers and warned that "regulators should be mindful of the potential downside in tightening [the mortgage market] too much." In October, no less a conservative luminary than George Will devoted a whole column in the Washington Post to saluting Goolsbee's "nuanced understanding" of traditional Democratic issues like globalization and income inequality and concluded that he "seems to be the sort of fellow--amiable, empirical, and reasonable--you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president, if such there must be."

    Robert Pollin, an economist at the University of Massachussets, believes "these three advisers generally reflect Obama's very moderate economic program, similar to Clintonism." Wall Street apparently has come to a similar conclusion. Obama had received nearly $10 million in contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate sector through October, and he's second among presidential candidates of either party in money raised from commercial banks, trailing only Clinton. Goldman Sachs, which made $6 billion from devalued mortgage securities in the first nine months of 2007, is Obama's top contributor. When asked if Obama would hold these financial institutions accountable for losses incurred by homeowners and investors, his campaign refused to comment.

    But tax credits and continued deregulation won't solve the mortgage crisis, which threatens to dispossess more than 2 million homeowners this year. "There's no evidence that an unregulated market is going to be a stable market," Pollin says. "The unstable mortgage market is one indication of that. This is not anything new. What is new is that you have a serious presidential candidate who isn't really talking about it and doesn't have advisers that are prepared to deal with it."


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