This morning, we were watching a Senate hearing about the housing finance system, and caught a poignant moment about the consequences of "depoliticizing" home ownership. Witness Thomas Hamilton of Barclay's Capital stated that government action is creating more homeowners than the private market would, an objectively true statement. If the housing market were "depoliticized", or absent of government intervention, only those with the ability to front significant down payments (i.e. the well-to-do) would be able to become homeowners.
Would that be a good thing? What would the implications be for our nation's commitment to democracy and freedom, given the central importance of home ownership to financial independence? We can't claim to have a definitive answer to these questions, since such answers reflect values and political beliefs about the proper role of government. But we do hope you consider them with an open mind and come to your own conclusions.
And as we are wont to do, we clipped out the video for you to see for yourself. Watch it here:
This clip is also notable because it demonstrates a textbook use of branding by Republicans and their small government allies. They dub deregulation of the housing finance system as "depoliticization", a sleight of hand that obscures the legitimate ideological debate at play. A policy change to let the market reign free in deciding who can become homeowners may or may not be justified, but it is unquestionably political in nature.
The United States is by far the world leader in a dubious category: incarceration of its citizens. As the result of a dramatic rise since 1980, over 1% of the adult population is now behind bars, and the federal “war on drugs” is at least partially to blame. This week, we examine an aggressive proposal by Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul that allows states to set their own marijuana policies by ending federal prohibition of the drug.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) took to the floor today to speak out in opposition to the debt deal as negotiated by the White House and Congress. He says the deal is "grotesquely unfair and it is also bad economic policy." Specifically, he criticizes the deal for leaving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the table as part of deeper cuts to follow while letting top earners off the hook, going so far as to say that the rich and the powerful are asked to contribute "not one cent" towards reducing the deficit.
The tragic shootings in Tucson ended only after the assailant, Jared Loughner, paused his gunfire to reload. It was at that moment that people in the area managed to disarm him. He had fired over 30 shots in about 15 seconds, killing six and wounding several others.
These events sparked anew the debate over high-capacity ammunition clips, once outlawed as part of the assault weapons ban. This proposal from Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy has emerged as the foremost response championed by gun control advocates.
HuffPost is running their lede this morning on a "Super Congress" - so far, places like the Times, the Post, Roll Call and the Hill don't seem to have it, but it's Sunday and they just might be running late. Here's the HuffPost take:
Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers -- six from each chamber and six from each party.
Legislation approved by the Super Congress -- which some on Capitol Hill are calling the "super committee" -- would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn't be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who'd have the ability only to cast an up or down vote.
Reduce approximately 500 petulant children (I'm betting that there are a few reasonable people still in Congress, though I have Pillar of Salt nightmares) to 12 petulant children? Like that would improve chances of negotiated settlements? The Gang of 6 has worked SO VERY WELL, she said with dripping sarcasm.
The debt limit is a largely symbolic check on excessive borrowing which in the past has been frequently raised with little to no controversy. Such periodic increases are necessary to keep the government running and paying its bills, regardless of ideology.
However, Congressional Republicans are now demanding that certain conditions must be met in order to win their approval of a debt ceiling increase. They have termed their list of demands Cut, Cap and Balance, and claim it is a necessary measure in order to keep the government debt from spiraling out of control, and thus keep the country functioning.
Yet the Cut, Cap and Balance Act scheduled to reach the House floor this week is anything but necessary to keep the country functioning. Rather, it is the crown jewel, the final step of conservatives' long-pursued "Starve the Beast" strategy to downsize government. It would radically limit the flexibility of the federal government to provide a social safety net, buttress the economy in tough times and respond to great national challenges, now and into the future.
But don't take my word for it. Check out this week's 90 Second Summary and decide for yourself:
We formed this Daily Kos group, Main Street Insider, to not only present our unique form of Capitol Hill coverage, but also to create a platform we can use to crowd-source the monitoring of what happens in Congress. If you regularly write about what happens on the floor of the House and Senate, or in their respective committees, we want to hear from you. To start with, we are asking folks to include "Capitol Hill" as a tag when applicable. We will be monitoring that tag's feed and republishing material that we think fits with our purpose, is accurate, and is worth sharing.
We are still developing exact guidelines for how we will decide who gets invited to be an editor. For now, the editors are David, Jeremy, Mitch and myself, and it will require a unanimous vote from all editors to invite others.