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David Dayen

 
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The Pileup Behind the Fiscal Slope, and the Consequences of Inaction

By: Friday December 21, 2012 10:23 am

Say what you will about the 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, which helped to set up what we’re seeing this month. But there was definitely a virtue in getting it done by early December, allowing for a productive lame duck session that repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, passed the New START arms reduction treaty, and several other measures. Because this entire lame duck has been consumed with fiscal slope negotiations, and really only the tax rate and social insurance part of it, bills that might have had a chance to pass through Congress if the pipeline were unclogged instead remain dormant. And unlike 2010, the bills in question in 2012 are more of the must-pass variety.

Kerry Finalized as Secretary of State Nominee

By: Friday December 21, 2012 9:42 am

Former Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry will become the next nominee for Secretary of State, replacing Hillary Clinton and creating another Senate vacancy.

President Obama will formally announce the nomination today at the White House, according to sources. He is not expected to face much resistance in the Senate for confirmation. Kerry will likely recuse himself from the confirmation hearings, since they would take place at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs. But there’s no word on when or if Kerry will step down from the Senate, the timing of which triggers a series of vacancy laws in Massachusetts.

Glenn Hubbard’s Hilarious Deposition on Behalf of Countrywide

By: Friday December 21, 2012 8:16 am

More than half of the loans Glenn Hubbard “studied” came from lenders being sued by other entities for fraud in their underwriting process.

It’s pretty incredible that Hubbard, an academic, thought he could throw this fastball by lawyers involved in MBS litigation for years and years. And it’s almost a shock that Countrywide got so little for their money.

Where to Go From Plan B, And Why the Answer Is “Nowhere”

By: Friday December 21, 2012 6:40 am

I couldn’t think of a more fitting story on my last day of blogging to symbolize the nature of our government than the aborting of Plan B, wherein House Republicans couldn’t even pass a messaging bill with no chance of advancing. Sometimes we’ve seen Speaker Boehner miscount the votes – the most notable time I can think of was an initial vote reauthorizing the Patriot Act, when some civil libertarians revolted – but not on a pure messaging bill.

What the Housing Market Actually Looks Like

By: Friday December 21, 2012 5:49 am

This week brought more good statistical news for the housing market. Existing home sales rose at a decent clip in November, nearing post-bubble highs not seen since the artificial spike from the homebuyer’s tax credit (I’ve noted that the end of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act could be giving the same spike). Inventory fell again, which presages higher prices. And while housing starts fell in November, the more stable indicator of homebuilding permits rose above expectations. There’s a huge hole to dig out from – even with its 25% rise, housing starts in 2012 would be the 4th-lowest in history – but the digging is occurring.

Fatster’s Roundup

By: Friday December 21, 2012 4:45 am

❖ Between 1968-73 Britain “forced removal of 1,500 Chagossians from the island of Diego Garcia” because the US wanted to put a military base there. Ever since, the Chagossians, now living in Britain and Mauritius, have been trying to get back to their homelands. Finally, the European Court of Rights in Strasbourg has ruled–against them.

❖ Seems the Libor scandal had a major impact on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–$3+billion loss. An unnamed “federal regulator” made the estimate and said “legal action against banks involved in fixing the Libor rate should be considered.” Ya think?

❖ Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Carl Levin (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) have sent a letter to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton expressing their “deep disappointment” with the movie Zero Dark Thirty, which they found “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.”

Boehner Bails on Plan B

By: Thursday December 20, 2012 6:28 pm

I just finished laughing from this spectacle on the House floor today. The House leadership tried desperately to pass “Plan B,” the main part of which was an extension of the Bush tax cuts on the first $1 million of income. In truth, all of the other giveaways in it would actually result in lower taxes for many wealthy earners, but tax rates have this weird power, especially within the Republican caucus. And you could just feel today that conservatives weren’t willing to pass the bill, even at that ridiculously high level. John Boehner and the leadership added a sweetener in the form of a package that eliminated the sequester on defense spending and applied it to more discretionary spending cuts, and even that barely passed, tainted by the association to Plan B.

We waited for a vote. And waited. Then the House Republicans held a closed caucus. And then…

The Plan B Follies: Freedomworks Jumps Off the Ship

By: Thursday December 20, 2012 12:09 pm

This clown show on the House floor just got more hilarious. At some point in the last four hours or so, Freedomworks, a key tea party group, abandoned their support of Plan B, this Boehner proposal to create what looks like a conservative wish list.

Plan B Morphs Into a Conservative Wish List

By: Thursday December 20, 2012 11:22 am

House Republicans will wait until tonight to pass “Plan B,” and while I think ultimately it will pass, the reason they’re waiting so long is that they have to figure out what to put into it to get conservative votes. Erick Son of Erick has a whip list of 34 no votes and 12 leaners, and Republicans can only lose 23, assuming no Democratic crossovers. So leadership must sweeten the pot if they want to win the vote.

And the way you sweeten the pot for House Republicans is that you kick the poor a bit more while handing out some aid to Wall Street and Lockheed Martin.

Testimony Today in Congress About Benghazi Incident

By: Thursday December 20, 2012 10:01 am

Hearings in Congress today pile on the political debate over the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. The hearings come on the heels of the Pickering-Mullen report, which looked at the actions of the State Department and foreign service leading up to the attack, finding serious deficiencies in management and “grossly inadequate” security at the consulate. As a result four senior State Department officials resigned.

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