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The grievance of the Occupy Wall Street Movement is not just growing income inequality, it’s what the one percent (it’s really a much smaller number) has done to claim so much of our nation’s income. And that’s not a new grievance.

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It’s not just Bank of America’s debit cards. The biggest banks are now raising fees on consumers without a moment of worry that it will cost them business.

How do they get away with it?

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Wed Apr 27, 2011 at 07:58 AM PDT

Good for Columbia and Harvard

by Rep Brad Miller

Now Donald Trump wants President Obama to release his college transcripts.

President Obama went to Occidental College for two years before transferring to Columbia College. Then, after a stint as a community organizer, he went to Harvard Law School.

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The PowerPoint released by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform ("The Deficit Commission"), said we should "Reform Social Security for its own sake, not for deficit reduction."

No kidding. Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Not now, not ever.

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Serious economists are now arguing that we should not reflexively celebrate "innovation" in the financial sector as we do innovation in the real economy. I was ahead of my time. I said the same thing almost two years ago, and people laughed at me.

Okay, that may have had something to do with how I said it.

When the House debated predatory mortgage lending legislation on November 15, 2007, I responded in an extemporaneous floor speech to Republican arguments that the legislation would throttle innovation in the financial sector, using an example of innovation in the real economy that was within my reach:

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The Obama Administration’s rumored plan to buy "troubled assets" to rescue banks presents the government with a "thorny valuation problem," the New York Times reports.

The article gives an example of a bond held by an unidentified "financial institution" which is "backed by 9,000 second mortgages from borrowers who put down little or no money to buy homes. Nearly a quarter of the loans are delinquent, and losses on defaulted mortgages are averaging 40 percent."

The financial institution values the bond at 97 cents on the dollar. Standard & Poor’s values the bond at 87 cents at the current default rate, but estimates the bond’s value could go down to 53 cents if the default rate doubles. But someone actually bought one of the bonds recently. The purchase price was 38 cents.

According to the article, financial industry critics "say that the banks’ accounting for those assets cannot be trusted because they have an incentive to use optimistic assumptions."

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The punditocracy is gravely concerned about business ethics in America.

Bernard Madoff’s "alleged Ponzi scheme was only slightly less outrageous than the ‘legal’ scheme that Wall Street was running, fueled by cheap credit, low standards and high greed," Thomas Friedman wrote Tuesday in the New York Times. "The Madoff affair is the cherry on top of a national breakdown in financial propriety, regulations and common sense. Which is why we don’t just need a financial bailout; we need an ethical bailout."

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Good morning, and welcome to the second day of this online forum on the foreclosure epidemic and legislation that Linda Sanchez and I introduced to allow bankruptcy courts to modify home mortgages. Matt Stoller, who blogs at Open Left asked me to participate and I roped Linda in. The Sunlight Foundation  organized the forums.

We had a good discussion yesterday at TPMCafe with a pretty impressive cast. I’m not sure who will be back today. DailyKos’ chief economist, Bonddad, will probably join us, although I hope for his sake that he occasionally has to work for clients, since he’s now trying to eke out a living as a lawyer.

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Scratch one more item from the Bush Administration’s already short list of accomplishments: by the time President Bush leaves office, about 700,000 fewer Americans will own their own homes than when he entered office.

The foreclosure rate is already the worst it’s been in at least twenty-five years, and soon may be the worst it’s been since the Great Depression. Lehman Brothers estimates that 30 percent of the subprime mortgages entered last year will end in foreclosure.

Perhaps 2.2 million American families will lose their homes to foreclosure in the next couple of years. When a family loses their home to foreclosure, they lose their life’s savings, and they lose their membership in the middle class, probably forever. Millions more will see the value of their homes collapse when neighbors lose their homes to foreclosure.

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Predatory mortgage lending is what brought me here in the first place.

I wrote my first diary almost two and a half years ago. I was the lead sponsor of legislation to protect consumers from predatory mortgage lending. The bill was really a rear guard action against a bill introduced by Bob Ney. Ney’s bill would have provided some flimsy, easily evaded federal consumer protections against predatory mortgage lending, and then in the name of a "consistent national standard," prohibited any state from enforcing effective state laws, like North Carolina’s. The Ney bill was really about protecting predatory lenders from state laws, not protecting consumers from predatory lenders.

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Wed Mar 21, 2007 at 09:26 AM PDT

I hate to say it...

by Rep Brad Miller

but, I told you so.

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It must get tedious for the average blogger to be trumped in the Iraq debate by members of the House and Senate who just got back from Iraq. They just returned from meeting with the leaders of the Iraqi government, with our top generals and our troops, and with lots of other really smart, important people over there.

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