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Study: Bush administration blocked efforts to prevent housing crisis

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Federal regulators in the Bush administration blocked attempts by state governments to prevent predatory lending practices that resulted in the financial crisis now stalking the American economy, a new study from the University of North Carolina says.

In 2004, the Office of the Currency Comptroller, an obscure regulatory agency tasked with ensuring the fiscal soundness of America’s banks, invoked an 1863 law to give itself the power to override state laws against predatory lending. The OCC told states they could not enforce predatory-lending laws, and all banks would be subject only to less-strict federal laws.

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Now, a research paper (PDF) from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Community Capital shows that those anti-predatory lending laws had actually worked. States that had stricter regulations on issuing mortgages were found to have fewer foreclosures.

“We believe that these findings are remarkable, since they suggest an important and yet unexplored link between [anti-predatory lending laws] and foreclosures,” the study’s authors state.

The study may be the first scientific evidence to back up claims made by many critics that the Bush administration and earlier administrations allowed last year’s financial crisis to happen by not enforcing common-sense regulations on lenders.

Last year, seven months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing government banking bailout, then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer wrote a Washington Post column in which he described how the Bush administration blocked states’ efforts to prevent a crisis in the mortgage industry.

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Spitzer wrote:

Predatory lending was widely understood to present a looming national crisis. This threat was so clear that as New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York’s, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices.

What did the Bush administration do in response? Did it reverse course and decide to take action to halt this burgeoning scourge? As Americans are now painfully aware, with hundreds of thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure and our markets reeling, the answer is a resounding no.

Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.

Spitzer’s Post column ran a month before the New York Times reported that federal authorities were investigating Spitzer as a patron of high-end hookers, ending his political career and long-running crusade against corporate malfeasance. Some observers, including investigative reporter Greg Palast, say this was not a coincidence.

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The UNC study “is a perfect reminder, as Congress and the administration tackle financial regulatory reform, that not all regulations are onerous, anti-business, and aimed at choking off financial innovation,” writes Mary Kane at the Washington Independent. “And it’s more evidence that borrowers buying beyond their means weren’t the only only players in the sub-prime mess.”


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2020 Election

Trump impersonated a CNN anchor — and a US president — during epic meltdown at Texas speech

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President Donald Trump offered multiple impersonations during a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.

Trump showed the crowd his impersonation of a president of the United States -- and a CNN anchor.

"No guns. No religion. No oil. No natural gas," Trump said. "Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas under those circumstances. Couldn’t do it."

In fact, Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas when he ran for president as the state refused to print any ballots with his name.

He then showed the audience two impersonations as part of his 87-minute speech.

"I used it to say, I can be more presidential. Look," Trump said, as he shuffled awkwardly on stage.

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Maddow reveals Trump’s Ukraine scandal is also an attempt to ‘unblame’ Russia for 2016 interference

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On MSNBC Thursday night, Rachel Maddow walked through an underreported aspect of the Ukraine scandal. When President Donald Trump dangled foreign aid in front of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he was not just demanding he dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden — he was also demanding he help dig up information that would disprove the findings of former special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.

"This scheme that the president and Giuliani were enacting using the three amigos, Gordon Sondland, Rick Perry, and [Kurt] Volker, who has already resigned, the scheme was to hold up a White House meeting for this foreign leader unless he coughed up stuff that Trump could use for his re-election effort against Joe Biden," said Maddow. "And in addition to that, interestingly, he needed help unblaming Russia for the 2016 election attack."

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Trump says Republicans ‘are all happy’ with his ‘deal’ to sell out the Kurds

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President Donald Trump on claimed during a Thursday night campaign rally in Texas that "all" Republicans on Capitol Hill are "happy" with the deal he cut with Turkey that cave the country Kurdish land in Syria.

Trump praised Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for their work on the deal, which has been blasted as ethnic cleansing.

"I took a lot of heat, even from some of our congressmen, some of our senators," Trump admitted.

"But now they're all happy," he argued.

"I am happy with them," he added. "I am happy with them."

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