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Kerry blasts GOP for ignoring housing crisis a year ago

Saturday, February 07, 2009

By Muriel Kane
Raw Story

Congressional Republicans have been attacking President Obama's stimulus proposal in any way they can, complaining in particular that it does not adequately address the housing crisis.

In remarks before the Senate on Friday, however, Senator John Kerry blasted the Republicans for only waking up to the housing problem now, when the time to have done something about it was almost a year ago.

Senate Minority White John Kyl suggested last Sunday that the stimulus package ought to be completely rewritten to "start with housing first." Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) echoed Kyl's words, calling the plan "nothing short of a disaster" because "housing and credit are the foundations in this country."

In responding to Corker and his fellow Republicans, Kerry recalled how "I sat in the White House a year ago with Secretary Paulson, President Bush, Vice President Cheney -- and I was the only person in the room who said, 'Mr. President, if you're going to do a stimulus now, you ought to put housing into this package.'"

Kerry explained that he had proposed that homeowners who were in danger of defaulting on their subprime mortgages be allowed to renegotiate them at a fixed rate. In February 2008, Kerry and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) tried but failed to attach such a provision to the Bush administration's economic stimulus bill. They did manage to have it included in the the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, which finally passed the Senate in July and was signed into law by George Bush....(Click for remainder).


At Dem retreat, a partisan love fest

By Glenn Thrush and Patrick O'Connor

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — A fired-up Barack Obama ditched his TelePrompter to rally House Democrats and rip Republican opponents of his recovery package Thursday night – at one point openly mocking the GOP for failing to follow through on promises of bipartisanship.

In what was the most pointedly partisan speech of his young presidency, Obama rejected Republican arguments that massive spending in the $819 billion stimulus bill that passed the House should be replaced by a new round of massive tax cuts.

“I welcome this debate, but we are not going to get relief by turning back to the same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin,” said President Obama – sounding more like Candidate Obama than at any time since he took the oath of office less than a month ago.

Obama, speaking to about 200 House Democrats at their annual retreat at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa, dismissed Republican attacks against the massive spending in the stimulus.

"What do you think a stimulus is?" Obama asked incredulously. "It’s spending — that's the whole point! Seriously.”

Stabbing hard at Republicans who once aligned themselves with his predecessor, Obama made it clear that the problems he seeks to address with his recovery plan weren’t ones of his making.

“When you start hearing arguments, on the cable chatter, just understand a couple of things,” he said. “No. 1, when they say, ‘Well, why are we spending $800 billion [when] we’ve got this huge deficit?’ – first of all, I found this deficit when I showed up, No. 1....(Click for remainder).


On The Edge

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to economic recovery. Over the last two weeks, what should have been a deadly serious debate about how to save an economy in desperate straits turned, instead, into hackneyed political theater, with Republicans spouting all the old clichés about wasteful government spending and the wonders of tax cuts.

It’s as if the dismal economic failure of the last eight years never happened — yet Democrats have, incredibly, been on the defensive. Even if a major stimulus bill does pass the Senate, there’s a real risk that important parts of the original plan, especially aid to state and local governments, will have been emasculated.

Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again.

It’s hard to exaggerate how much economic trouble we’re in. The crisis began with housing, but the implosion of the Bush-era housing bubble has set economic dominoes falling not just in the United States, but around the world.

Consumers, their wealth decimated and their optimism shattered by collapsing home prices and a sliding stock market, have cut back their spending and sharply increased their saving — a good thing in the long run, but a huge blow to the economy right now. Developers of commercial real estate, watching rents fall and financing costs soar, are slashing their investment plans. Businesses are canceling plans to expand capacity, since they aren’t selling enough to use the capacity they have. And exports, which were one of the U.S. economy’s few areas of strength over the past couple of years, are now plunging as the financial crisis hits our trading partners....(Click for remainder).


Playing With Fire

By Bob Herbert
The New York Times

It was good to see the president, ordinarily so cool, so accommodating, exhibiting some real fire the other night. It seems to have done some good.

With the economy in deep, deep trouble, and Americans suffering by the tens of millions, the Republicans spent much of the week doing their same-old, bad-faith Neanderthal two-step: trying their best to derail the economic stimulus package working its difficult way through Congress.

“This bill is stinking up the place,” said Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina who not only opposed the legislation but wanted to make sure that no one would mistake him for a class act.

One of the goals of the package, of course, is to begin cleaning up the holy mess that resulted from the long, dark night of G.O.P. control in Washington. President Obama went out of his way to get a substantial number of Republicans to make a genuine effort to move the economic revitalization process along, but was rebuffed, and in some cases contemptuously....(Click for remainder).



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