Friday, October 13, 2017

Corker, MID and the Trades, Hill and the Warrants



GSE Dud to National Dude???



Federal public office seekers (and those at most other levels) care only about  getting elected or re-elected. Nothing else matters to those who arrive in DC, no matter what they say about any policy issue.

They spend virtually all of their days scheming and calculating how to achieve that “return me to office” goal.

Until for whatever reason they stop running and that albatross melts from their shoulders and a butterfly appears from that chrysalis.

Once that huge egotistical political engine is removed from their personal calculus, it is amazing what they say and do.

Some even act like statesmen or leaders.

The most recent example of  this “Inside the Beltway” reality, is Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who announced he won’t seek re-election in 2018.

I have had very little good to say about Corker, whom I believed lied and misled his world with his anti-Fannie/Freddie politics--possibly even personally profiting from his Senate actions and antics--opposing any GSE support or recapitalization.

His famous “short them” call during a national TV interview has been discussed ad nauseum except by the Senate Ethics Committee which has stayed radio silent on the millionaire Senator’s financial foibles.

But, here/now is where I get Corker-friendly and maybe even a little hypocritical--about the guy I’ve demeaned for some many years--since he announced he wasn’t running again, he opened up a verbal barrage on President Donald Trump, which I believe—and still wish for--many of his GOP colleagues should mirror. When Democrats do it, it's all dismissed as poltiics.

Corker questioned Trump’s ethics, character, intellect, maturity, honor, and presidential capacity—to which Trump retaliated--and the brickbats still are going back and forth. That’s weird because Trump needs Corker’s Senate vote for many high priority WH issues, including DJT’s all-important Iran nuclear redo.

Will the diminutive-sized Corker (another Trump derision target) resign before he retires, as many suggest, over some non-GSE financial dealings which could generate criminal sanctions against the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? Or will the Tennessee Senator hang around—continue to speak his mind about Trump’s own shortcomings (not talking about the President’s hands!!)--and further anger the White House by walking the walk and voting the way, i.e. against the President, Senator Corker has talked??

We’ll see. But, Corker’s post announcement actions stripped off some of the phony veneer of political niceties, when--relieved of kissing every butt and face (think $$$$) thrust at him--Corker chose to speak out against this, scary, non-traditional and worrisome US president—who can stumblebum us into a shooting war--and shout out loud what many Republicans and others think.

The NAHB and the True to Form MBA

(First drafted on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 11, see end of this segment for “timing” significance.)

Speaking of transformations, what have NAHB CEO Jerry Howard and the Home Builders been promised by this White House in return for he/them/it abandoning their zillion years support for the mortgage interest deduction (MID) in favor of some other Trump tax schemes which have yet to be fully explained or fleshed out??

In the past all of the major housing, mortgage finance, and building trades opposed ending a borrower’s ability to write off his/her mortgage interest. But that ended this year with the NAHB’s departure from the heretofore insoluble “housers” MID support group.

It maybe that after years of losing influences and being shunted aside by the more aggressive Mortgage Bankers and the omnipresent Realtors, the Builders are trying a new external affairs tact, seeking luster.

But, the Builders are lighting matches in a room filled with gunpowder, if their members grasp all of the implications.

Jerry and the Builders, not to be confused with Gerry and the Pacemakers, must be getting something—or its many members must be sleeping—because the MID has been a major financial reason to permit the average middle class family's desire to have their share of the American dream and, also, buy builder products.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been standing tall opposing the Bush MID proposal, which--when combined with Trump’s desire to end the state and local tax (SALT) deduction-- could dramatically harm the middle class, homeownership and sales, despite Trump National Economic Council (NEC) Director Gary Cohn’s underwhelming promise of a “$1,000 tax savings” for middle income households, earning $100,000 or less.

Pish tush, not much savings especially when compared with what President Trump proposes for businesses and the wealthy!!

The desperate-for-a-legislative-win Trump and his “hide the pea” tax proposal, with scant specific details because the WH wants the booming opposition to his giveaways to stay quiet until the total plan gets revealed when he knows all Hell will break loose.

The not-pushy-enough NAR still has been excoriated by the Koch Brothers for opposing parts of the Admin’s tax reform proposals. Gee, the Realtors may find themselves supporting Democrats before this all is over.

Now, where in this swamp is the ubiquitous Mortgage Bankers Association?

The MBA is calculating how they can leverage their core anti-GSE positions with their need to help the White House or go against it on the MID removal.

My bet is that the MBA and David Stevens will join the Builders to sup with the Administration and find a way to explain ending the MID for mortgagors is good for their members and consumers, just as they argue the same about abolishing the GSEs.

(Reader Warning, “crowing” about to happen.)

No sooner did I draft the above early yesterday then MBA sent its inevitable gushing/spinning letter to GOP officials offering their support for reducing the MID.  Thanks for not disappointing me David Stevens and enhancing my “seer” status!

(See Politico’s Lorraine Woellert’s story, linked below; note the MBA letter only went to Republicans, no Democrats.)

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/13/mortgage-bankers-open-to-rewrite-of-homeowner-tax-breaks-243757


The Hill and GSEs

Despite the fact that Fannie and Freddie still are providing 50% of American borrowers with their mortgage (those are your constituents Senators and Congress people), there is no GSE love on the Hill but this GOP controlled Congress and WH are headed to some monstrous federal deficit spending with all of their promises and that’s before they get to their “tax reforms,” which only will drain the Treasury more.

In my humble opinion, the fact that those looking closely at the GSE issues see the $100 Billion or more the Treasury owned F&F warrants represent will begin to salivate and behave as pigs looking at slop (metaphor stops there) as they struggle to find “pay fors” to meet their spending and tax priorities.

That new revenue will look very tempting.

Republicans will find that huge F&F warrant driven pot of gold near irresistible when they start scrambling over how they are going to pay for their intended Treasury/taxpayer financial ravishings.

The R pols will be torn between covering their asses and seeing a quick $100 Billion but that perpetuates the GSEs. My bet is they will grab for the money but  still and hamstring Fannie and Freddie in some way.



Maloni, 10-13-2017



Monday, September 25, 2017


Hypocrisy, Hypocrisy, Hypocrisy, Hypocrisy, Hypocrisy;
DC Trades Pretend They Aren't Dancing to Bank Tunes 


Don’t worry, this is not a full time return of my blog, just a comment on the ongoing efforts by major Washington DC trade groups to convince policy makers—once again--to get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac anoint a new, untried, but undeniably questionable group of GSE successors, without concern about market place cost, inevitable inefficiencies and delay/confusion for consumers.




Scotsman Guide (9-22-17):
Trade groups fret over fate of GSE reform


Large mortgage-banking groups and other trade associations urged the Trump Administration this week to stay the course on allowing Congress to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying that they are growing increasingly concerned about “efforts to derail” comprehensive reform.
The groups, which includes the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and American Bankers Association (ABA), said the Trump administration should resist the temptation to privatize the government-sponsored enterprises absent significant reforms first by Congress.
"As you both have made clear on numerous occasions, housing-finance reform must go through Congress to create stable, sustainable housing markets that best serve our nation's communities,” the trade groups said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Mel Watt.
The industry’s letter did not elaborate on why the groups have become concerned. MBA and ABA spokespersons didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Recently, however, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution that the GSEs should be capitalized and privatized. This resolution adopted language from a June blueprint for reform that was bankrolled by GSE private shareholders.
RNC’s resolution, for example, gets behind the shareholder’s privatization plan for Treasury to exercise its GSE warrants, and then sell its shares in the enterprises. The shareholders believe that this would generate $75 billion to $100 billion for taxpayers. Their plan envisions that $180 billion in capital could be raised by the GSEs through retained earnings, and existing and future shareholders.
(Entire SG article linked below.)


Maloni’s Take:

I responded in two publications with my views of the whys and wherefores of this letter driven by the Mortgage Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association. Below is a slightly expanded version of my thoughts.

****************************************************


The positional and policy gossamer these groups spew is their feigned ignorance (“There’s gambling at Rick’s?”) that the primary beneficiaries of their efforts will be the nation's largest banks and their minions (see who signed on).

Last week’s letter is similar to several other near identical tomes written over the years by the same interests seeking the same thing. (Google it, to satisfy yourselves.)

Yet, the letter writers preferred system of mortgage lending stewards is the main reason their repeated efforts to do away with the GSEs have failed. 

Nobody trusts the forever scamming banks and why should they?

Yet the same people keep going back to the same big bank solutions which the Senate Banking Committee rejected when it just was the Corker-Warner bill.

Since the financial unraveling almost 10 years ago, since 2008, the banks—to which the letter writers want to extend total mortgage market control--have rung up more than $250 Billion in federal financial regulatory fines, most  for damaging business actions, i.e.  screwing consumers, unrelated to their equally thoughtless scaled back home mortgage lending.

What doesn’t change in all of these schemes is the consumers get stuck with the “hind udder,” the big banks get fatter, and various mortgage process middle groups will get their financial sustenance, but much like crows do eating a cow's natural intestinal byproducts.

Other legislative schemes pile on even grander big bank subsidies/federal guarantees than exist today. (See the MBA task force proposal to guarantee bank securities losses.)

There is a reason why these Washington lobbyists want the world to forget the outrageous and causative bank mortgage behavior leading up to the 2008 crisis, when those institutions went outside the GSE systems and issued $2.7 Trillion in near worthless "private" (meaning non-GSE) mortgage backed securities (PLS), which quickly failed and led to the taxpayers bailing out the banks with more than three times what was infused in the GSEs ($187 Billion compared to $700 Billion for banks). Whether the GSEs even required that 2008 forced government help is being challenged in multiple federal courts.

Many of these association/signers want you and Congress to ignore post-2008 GSE regulatory successes and—historically--the GSEs role in making the nation’s mortgage finance system more efficient/friendly for borrowers and acting as a needed rigorous governor on big bank mortgage shenanigans.

If the Congress, the media, and the public don’t ignore this financial history, grasp those facts, and then just "follow the money," it will explain a lot of the names on this letter and their apparent institutional amnesia.

At the end of the day, a simple reworking of the GSE charters, Fannie and Freddie keep their earnings and resume their traditional mortgage finance role, is much of the right answer for the American people.


Maloni, 9-25-2017


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Closed until something GSE worth writing about happens; SCOTUS antics too numerous, dangerous, and too few people seem to care. Plus, cataloging going on elsewhere.

DJT is Putin's "Useful Idiot."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A lie here, a tall tale there…….


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.



GSE Good News from Mel Watt;  
Comey’s Firing Fails Smell Test



Yay Mel Watt; MW for FHFA Director???

I know, I know, he already has the job, but in my view—and I don’t know if Watt applied the pressure up or someone at Treasury pushed it down—Watt’s testimony before a hostile Senate Banking Committee was as close to a “GSE Profile in Courage” as we’ve had in many moons.

Lots of us on the political fringes can blog, talk and support “Fannie Mae recap and release,” but we don’t have the influence or the FHFA Director’s pulpit.

It took Mel Watt (and I suspect those above him in this Admin) to suggest a logical and different approach in a substantive way and—to my twisted sense of justice--shove the need and rationale for the mortgage finance system’s greater good right up the orifices of some arrogant doubting Senators (pick your party).

He called for “recap” and was a little light on “relief,” but it still sounded real good.

Former Congressman Watt walked into the SBC “Valley of Death” hearing room and simply testified—in effect--“Hear me, I’m the biggest, baddest regulatory Mother %$#@&% in this valley.”

(Paraphrasing, Watt said), “It is better to let Fannie and Freddie keep some of their quarterly earnings as capital protection against future losses then to lend them more money if those losses occur—as some of you Senators suggest--since the latter could send an unwanted signal, threatening the financial markets quite broadly.”


The Senators heard him, loud and clear.

There is little chance that Watt’s daring and audacious position did not reflect—right now--exactly where the Treasury Department is on the matter and, maybe, President Trump himself.

Bold and accurate, Watt took no crap from Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and pushed back at the most antagonistic of the anti-GSE committee members.

See excerpt of Paul Muolo’s Inside Mortgage Finance Watt Senate hearing article, below.

By Paul Muolo
Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt has a law degree and is a former member of Congress. Anyone who has followed him over the years, especially during his time at the FHFA, knows that when he speaks, it’s in measured tones and he’s quite careful about what he says. If you watched his testimony before a Senate panel this week, you can read in between the lines and come to the conclusion that his message boiled down to this: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not take another government draw, at least not while I’m in charge…
In the second to last paragraph of his prepared remarks, Watt did a masterful job of setting the table, knowing full well that what he’s suggesting by allowing Fannie and Freddie to build capital once again would ruffle more than a few feathers: “It would, therefore, be a serious misconception for members of this Committee, or for anyone else, to consider any actions FHFA may take as conservator to avoid additional draws of taxpayer support either as interference with the prerogatives of Congress, as an effort to influence the outcome of housing finance reform, or as a step toward recap and release…” 

I certainly hope that Mr. Watt’s performance vis-à-vis Sen. Corker reflects a second GSE story which appeared earlier last week in Rocky Top Politics (see link below).

https://rockytoppolitics.com/2017/05/10/bonaparte-bob/

Anyone looking for more information on Corker’s reported questionable financial adventures can find that information in the Rocky Top archives on the same page.

______________________________________________



Comey: We now know that when this White House says something isn’t— IT generally “IS”

This Pittsburgh puppy ain’t consuming the latest White House “dog food” offered up by the Trump kennel managers, explaining why President Trump suddenly fired FBI Director James Comey.

That pooch fare just doesn’t taste/smell right and violates my limited canine taste of how this POTUS operates.

When the surprising, “He fired the FBI Director” announcement first popped, I contacted a friend who works with the FBI on serious matters, asking him about Comey’s “in the Bureau” reputation.

He told me that Comey, across the board, did well as an organizational leader and he (my friend) knew of no internal complaints, implying no hint of internecine Director-hostility on anything representing the grand unhappiness scale the WH spinners suggested.

That doesn’t mean DJT liked Comey personally and I could see where this Prez might not. But what I can’t see is President Trump worried about 1) drooping federal employee morale or 2) injustice shown toward Hillary Clinton.

After all, to name a few Trump appointees who have produced that negative workplace impact, the President named Scott Pruitt, a wingnut anti-environmentalist to head EPA, upsetting those employees; chose Betsy DeVos, a public school opponent to run the Department of Education, upsetting those employees; picked former MoC Dr. Tom Price, an Obamacare opponent and anti-medical care spending zealot (not counting his controversial stock trades while a House Member) to oversee the Department of Health and Human Services, upsetting HHS employees.


Does anyone really believe that the thousands of employees at those three federal operations mentioned above are content with and in rapture over their new bosses, who seem to oppose their very agency missions and core assignments?

Maloni and Comey


Last year--as many Democrats were--I was PO’d at James Comey, when I thought he engaged in ugly partisan politics, with his unnecessary announcement of the non-indictment of Hillary Clinton, just days before the 2016 presidential election.

But, I figured he’s an R and wanted to help Trump win. While it sucked—given my belief about appointed senior government execs—it didn’t shock me.

So, following the Trump win, Comey goes about his FBI business. Had I been asked, I would have said Comey was doing a decent job, since he seemed to be angering D’s and R’s alike, which never is a bad standard.

Wham! Then last week, Trump drops the unemployment hammer on Comey.

After the fact, Trump called Comey a show boater!!?? (I guess it takes one to know one.)

Did Comey attract too much of the media glare which the insatiable Trump wanted?

Now I’m left trying to figure out what really happened…since the WH seldom tells the truth.

Instead, Spicer adopt Kim Jong-un North Korean type media visions, suggesting our POTUS is driven only by the purest of motives after deeply considering all the reasonable alternatives.

No thanks, I prefer to follow my instincts and sechel (Yiddish for brains or smarts).

The President, bored with his day job and the slings and arrows of the presidency, gets the DoJ—in the person of newbie Deputy Attorney General  Rod Rosenstein, who still is trying to locate the Department’s men’s rooms—to author a memo suggesting Comey bungled last year investigation into “Hillary Clinton.”

That memo’s talking points are given to all of the rightwing media and they begin chattering in the same vein about what Rosenstein found and what the President had to do (reportedly pissing off Rosenstein, who saw himself being set up and blamed for the justification to fire Comey).

A desperate Administration then exhumes Kellyanne “Conwoman”-- brushes from her outfit the dead leaves and dirt, the smell of embalming fluid, slaps some makeup on her, twice, since she does day and nighttime CNN interviews with Tapper and Cooper--where she claims Trump fired Comey because Rosenstein said the latter’s investigation  was unfair to Hillary Clinton. (OK, she unconvincingly did her piece, get the coffin and fluids ready and return her.)

Comey was “Unfair to Hillary,” the person who Trump spent every day last year battering, demeaning, calling for her imprisonment, and more. Really, Kellyanne, really??

The other White House explanation of the dismissal is that Comey would not pledge fealty to the President.

Sounds better. But is this the Middle Ages, i.e., “Your orange Liege-ness, I promise to…?”


But the Pres keeps chirping/tweeting and changes the storyline. Ooops.

**************************************************************

How about this for a real reason?

I say, Comey’s Russian investigation was getting embarrassingly close to the POTUS, his family business interests, and allies. He felt hassled and upset.

DAG Rosenstein and AG Jeff Sessions (wasn’t the AG supposed to recuse himself from all Russian DoJ matters??) provide grist for dumping Comey, the FBI "engineer" driving this inquiry train?

In my explanation fantasy, the POTUS yells, “Hey, works for me. After all I am the President; just put in my letter that he told me three times I wasn’t under investigation, three times, so I can point to it. Despite the fact, clearly, that it was just stupid and illegal of me to ask and him to answer”

A spineless and compliant Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell--whose questionably credentialed spouse is holding down another cabinet sceretarial spot--quickly announces the obvious, he will not support an Independent Counsel or Special Prosecutor, after Trump’s reincarnation of Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” which this year DJT performed on a Tuesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan—the proven lightweight lemming ewe, who can’t leave tracks in wet mud--lines up with McConnell insisting the two congressional investigations, which very few people believe can accomplish much, will handle the Russian investigation.

“Move along folks, nothing to see here.”

Reportedly Steve Bannon is working on a new Trump tweet. (But will it fit on a baseball hat?)

“You better ignore my many foibles, innumerable conflicts, family soap operas, and love me, or I will smite you! “Donald J. Trump, President.


We’ll see just how the American public accepts this presidential high handedness and Trump ego-mania.

Which family owned golf course will the taxpayers send DJT to next to soothe the Prez’s frazzled nerves??

After the healthcare debacle, again, in the House, I would think the American public would be so upset and see through this Comey charade that the White House will find itself in more political trouble, even with Hill Republicans and conservative media.

We’ll see.


Maloni, 5-14-2017





Monday, May 8, 2017

This and That!

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.


GSEs and Healthcare; the latter not a POTUS Win

Every week, I talk or otherwise interact (lots of emails and texts) with dozens of people focused on the GSE issues.

But while some homogenization exists, most of those with whom I deal seem to care more about the GSE preferred or common stock price and don’t, surprisingly, focus on the nation’s mortgage finance delivery system, and who/what would control it if dramatically altered, i.e. as most of the Hill proposals would.

To me more than any stock price bump--more likely drop, given the financial and social peril if it is delivered into the wrong hands—governing control is the crucial part of the lengthy and intractable imbroglio. 

Personally, I don’t know any of the mega hedge fund GSE mavens, but do know several people who years ago—way before 2008—invested in the GSEs and have watched their hopes crumble of catching financial lightning in a bottle with their early Fannie and Freddie investments. I feel for them.

Their increasingly rueful stories appears on many of the GSE blogs where they can offer up their frustration and unhappiness.

I welcome and enjoy discourse with both groups. Indeed the major investors need to be acknowledged because they have driven—and paid for--all of the primary lawsuits which keep the future of the GSEs alive, operationally. My thanks to them for those actions.

I worry less about the GSE stock trading multiples and more about the nature of the future mortgage system model which survives the producing end of the public policy meat grinder, because I think one begets the other.

If policy makers ever agree on the one, then you realize the second.

Secure the GSE System, Price Comes Later

Fannie and Freddie stock prices, despite their $20 billion per annum product—never trade on economic returns, market share, etc. the stuff that moves other publicly traded stock, but whims and whiffs of GSE political or legal developments (not many of the latter, lately).

IMO because of the legal/political uncertainty, GSE preferred and common shares are bouncing political footballs (sorry my legalistic friends) as we’ve seen in so many cases decided in the “Lamberth” vein.

Yes, the GSE preferred stock is a “contract,” which bears distinction from the common shares and the common—depending on a positive resolution of the GSEs current value—could have value of several times current prices.

Yes, the courts still may offer a better hope than any congressional exercise, since this Congress is not made up of honest brokers nor people who have displayed deep understanding of how mortgages are originated, financed, or the best way to deliver those to their constituents, most of whom want ease, access, and fairness when they shop for a mortgage loan.

I contend, if policy makers just focused only on--“What is the best, fairest, most easily employed, transparent, mortgage finance delivery system for all Americans,who qualify for mortgage loans?"--the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac model and experience, hands down, is superior to all conventional loan competitors.

Especially so, if those congressional policymakers realized that the “all Americans” are their constituents or better yet, their constituents will know if their Senator or Member of Congress whiffs on their interests but embraces the promises of the big bank crowd.

Look to Tim Howard's Proposal

More aggressively, I would argue, that all of the “Inside the Beltway” think tank, aerie faeirie replacement schemes, being touted by the industry groups and special financial interests, pall when compared to the Tim Howard “remake them as utilities” idea which he has logically constructed and capitalized, which appears on his blog.

The latter idea preserves the best of the GSEs but adds proscribed limits on what critics claim are Fannie and Freddie shortcomings, i.e. profits and scope of business activity.
Washington skeptics, please re-read that last sentence and think about it.

And the Howard proposal would not disrupt the current regulatory regime, which already has sanitized the GSE operational mode and did away with the single biggest element of the pre-2008 financial debacle, i.e., authority to buy/securitize subprime mortgage products.

(Please note that the bank financial regulators have not banned their regulated institutions—the likely beneficiaries if the GSEs were disassembled--from selling those products.)

Bad Guys Secretly Creeping into Fed Posts

In past blogs, I’ve mentioned the dozens of anti-GSE types lurking in the DC policy area still with their long knives out and still desirous of damaging the two.

The Washington Post’s Sunday editorial (excerpt below) suggests why my concerns have foundation.

“WHAT DID President Trump really mean when he vowed to “drain the swamp” in Washington? Did he mean to break up the endemic conflicts of interest among lobbyists, industry and public servants? Certainly Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric implied that he would discourage the mingling of political power and influence. On taking office, Mr. Trump’s executive order on ethics toughened the rules on government officials when they leave, barring them for five years from lobbying on topics they worked on in government.

In the same executive order, Mr. Trump also attempted to prevent conflicts of interest when officials join the government. Specifically, under Mr.Trumps order, officials must pledge that, for two years from taking office, they will not participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to former employers or clients. Also, if they were lobbyists in two years before taking office, they must promise to stay away from any specific issue they lobbied on, a ban that should also last for the first two years in government.

Now come reports the Trump White House is issuing secret waivers to the president’s own ethics rules, allowing incoming officials to work on issues they handled before becoming public servants. The New York Times reports that in the Obama years, there were waivers issued under narrow circumstances, but the waivers and explanations were made public. The Trump administration is no longer disclosing and no longer explaining.

How many waivers have been issued? No one seems to know, but the president is appointing former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are in many cases working on policies affecting the same industries they served before, according to a survey conducted by the Times in collaboration with ProPublica. For example, they reported, a top White House energy adviser is handling the same issues that were of concern as a lobbyist for major energy-industry clients.

Last Week’s House Healthcare Vote 

I don’t care what anyone thinks about the current Obamacare health system, which hardly was coming apart as critics suggested, but how could anyone find anything ennobling about how the House--on a pure party line vote, with some in the GOP voting “no”--passed a bill on which they had few details, no objective cost estimates, no measurement of Americans served or exposed to losing their insurgence,  far more expensive coverage,  no easily understood protection for those citizens with pre-existing conditions, sketchy policy tax breaks for the wealthy, and a bill that most American major medical groups opposed?

(List of opponents.*)

·         American Medical Association
·         American Hospital Association & Federation of American Hospitals
·         American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
·         American Health Care Association (AHCA)
·         America’s Essential Hospitals
·         America’s Hospitals and Health Systems
·         American Public Health Association
·         National Disability Rights Network
·         National Partnership Women and Families
·         National Physicians Alliance
·         American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
·         National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
·         Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
·         National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare
·         National Center for Transgender Equality
·         Catholic Health Association of the United States
·         American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
·         National Education Association
·         American Federation for Suicide Prevention
·         Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
·         HIV Medicine Association
·         Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
·         MomsRising
·         Children’s Defense Fund
·         Families USA
·         Consumers Union
·         Sister Simone Campbell
·         NETWORK Advocates for Catholic Social Justice
·         Young Invincibles
·         Planned Parenthood

*List from the office of Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md).

IMO, that vote all was about a rightwing House voting against the former Black President’s signature legislative achievement to the detriment of millions of lower income, elderly and poor Americans who need that system, with its working state exchanges????

Wait until those people wake up and find out what the POTUS and GOP did to them.

That tortured legislative exercise was produced so our intellectually uninquisitive, non-reading, incapable of identifying with family hardship President--who didn’t know what was in the healthcare bill  voted down before and didn’t know the details of what passed last week—could chortle over a pyric/ersatz victory that it and he are “great!”

His “win” which likely came at the expense of millions of the least able and the oldest of us all, whom he promised to help prosper.

I expect his insurance industry allies are happy but many of the American people can’t be.

Maybe DJT can go, again, to Pennsylvania or West Virginia and brag how he helped all of those residents with this slash and burn healthcare legislation.

Sorry DJT, not leadership. 

Best line, I read, describing the Trump/Ryan healthcare bill--crucial details of which were not available to the undemanding House R’s when they voted overwhelmingly for it last Thursday—was penned by Ross Douthat in New York Times:

Thursday’s House vote for the American Health Care Act, a misbegotten Obamacare quasi-replacement with the favorable ratings of diphtheria and the strong support of almost nobody on the right who cares about health policy, will necessarily be the undoing of the congressional G.O.P.”

Yay Douthat: the ‘”favorable ratings of diphtheria,” what super descriptive prose!

I wouldn’t be shocked if diphtheria’s favorability ratings are close to those of the current Congress.

Maloni, 5-8-2017