United States News Digest
Bill Clinton Calls for Protection of Homeowners and Banks
Jan. 9 (EIRNS)Speaking on Hillary Clinton's behalf at a campaign event Jan. 7, former President Bill Clinton gave a relatively elaborated presentation of the subprime mortgage crisis, including the role of hedge funds. While falling short of endorsing Lyndon LaRouche's Homeowners and Bank Protection Act, Hillary Clinton's call for moratorium on foreclosures and a freeze on monthly mortgages payments is the only comprehensive proposal so far offered by any Presidential candidate, to the housing and banking crisis.
Responding to a question about the subprime mortgage issue, Clinton pointed out that the way subprime mortgages often worked, is that people were buying houses that cost more than they could afford, often by just paying interest for the first five years or so.
Clinton explained that "banks packaged these mortgages and sold them to investment houses and hedge funds, who then sold them as investment vehicles to others, and they turned out not to be such good investments, and when they started going down in value, it cascaded back, and the subprime mortgages failed as investment vehicles."
"So then they wind up back on the books of the bank as bad debt," Clinton said, and the banks come under pressure "to rewrite the mortgage, which has the effect of raising the monthly mortgage rate of the person that got the mortgage in the first place, which means we're at risk of foreclosing on huge numbers of people who never missed a single mortgage payment."
This is "dumb," Clinton declared, adding that, "It will cause cataclysm in the real estate market, and throw a lot of middle class people out of their homes. Hillary asked the President to do something about this six months before they announced anything, and her program is to first have a 90-day moratorium, no foreclosures, and during that 90 days, give everybody a chance to renegotiate their mortgage in a way that will get the bank out of trouble, but [it] has to have a five-year freeze on the monthly payments of the homeowners."
"It will require some federal money," Clinton continued. "It will be much, much cheapertake my word for itmuch cheaper than having all these houses foreclosed on and having the value plummet, then having them resold and having huge numbers of Americans who will never own a home again in their lives."
Clinton concluded by warning that "it's going to take a much more aggressive intervention than the government has proposed, so far, to avoid that."
Gulf Confrontation Stirs Interest in Iran Bill
Jan. 10 (EIRNS)The office of Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) told EIR that the latest naval confrontation between a U.S. destroyer and Iranian speedboats in the Persian Gulf has sparked renewed interest in, and more potential co-sponsorship, of Jones's HJR 14, introduced in January 2007.
The resolution requires that, absent a national emergency created by an attack, or a demonstrably imminent attack, by Iran upon the United States or its armed forces, the President must consult with Congress and receive specific authorization prior to initiating any use of military force against Iran.
Reps. Jones, Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), Ron Paul (R-Tex.), and William Delahunt (D-Mass.) also introduced HJR 53 in November 2007, to strengthen the War Powers Act, such that Congress would be required to exercise its responsibility in the declaration of any war. This resolution is awaiting action in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Wexler Denounces Bush's 'Surge of Lies'
Jan. 10 (EIRNS)Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) became the first member of Congress to say openly that Bush's "surge" in Iraq is not working, and to criticize fellow Democrats for saying it is.
In a Jan. 8 statement entitled, "Surge of Lies," Wexler wrote: "A new troubling myth has taken hold in Washington and it is critical that the record is set straight. According to the mainstream media, Republicans, and unfortunately even some Democrats, the President's surge in Iraq has been a resounding success. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
"This assertion is disingenuous, factually incorrect, and negatively impacts America's national security. The Surge had a clear and defined objective to create stability and securityenabling the Iraqi government to enact lasting political solutions and foster genuine reconciliation and cooperation between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. This has not happened.
"There has been negligible political progress in Iraq, and we are no closer to solving the complex problemsincluding a power-sharing government, oil revenue agreement and new constitutionthan we were before the Administration upped the ante and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq."
Wexler has also called for the impeachment of Dick Cheney.
Backing up Wexler's statement, today's Washington Post has an article detailing that none of the "benchmarks" set by the Bush Administration in January 2007 for the Iraq government to fulfill during the "Surge," have been even approximately met. The Cheney-Bush White House has now quietly given up those "benchmarks," reports author Thomas Ricks.
Dems Bow to White House Spending Ceiling Without a Fight
Jan. 9 (EIRNS)According to an article in The Hill today, Democrats capitulated in a stand-off with President Bush at the end of last year, by agreeing to the limit that he set for total Federal spending. Democrats initially passed a group of appropriation bills that exceeded Bush's spending ceiling by $22 billion; funding intended to go toward veterans' medical care, transportation infrastructure, medical research, Pell grants, and low-income students. When White House officials refused to budge, Democratic leaders "rewarded the Bush administration's hard line," and caved in.
Rep. John Murtha (Pa.), the second-ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said a White House official told him that Bush would have agreed to spend more on domestic programs if Democrats had pushed a little harder. Murtha said, "We should have negotiated at $22 billion [over the President's number] to start with," rather than propose an $11 billion compromise and then fold entirely. "One of the [White House] staffers called my staffer and said, 'You guys gave up too early, we thought we were going to end up at $7 or 8 billion more.'"
George McGovern Calls for Impeachment
Jan. 6 (EIRNS)Former Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate George McGovern published a call for the immediate impeachment of both George Bush and Dick Cheney, whose administration, he said, is far more guilty of high crimes than even that of Richard Nixon. Impeachment is "unlikely," he wrote in an op-ed in today's Washington Post, not only because of the Republican opposition, but because of "a lack of courage and statesmanship on the part of too many Democratic politicians." "Impeachment," he writes, "quite simply, is the procedure written into the Constitution to deal with Presidents who violate the Constitution and the laws of the land."
He concludes: "At age 85, I won't be around to witness the completion of the difficult rebuilding of our sorely damaged country, but I'd like to hold on long enough to see the healing begin."
McGovern's op-ed intersects growing support among rank-and-file Democrats in the House for impeachment hearings by the Judiciary Committee. Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Me.) sent a letter, dated Dec. 21, 2007, to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), asking Conyers to hold "vigorous hearings into the abuses of power" by the Bush-Cheney Administration, and to include impeachment hearings of Cheney on the Judiciary Committee schedule. "There is no doubt that at the very least this Administration has dangerously expanded the scope of executive authority and flaunted the constitutionally defined separation of powers," Michaud wrote. "Expansions and potential abuses of power become precedents for future ones, which lead to further erosions of our constitutional rights. That is why these [impeachment] investigations must be held with the utmost seriousness of purpose and must lay all the facts on the table ... this is the only way to restore the faith of the American people in their government."