Obama's latest housing plan may be too little, too late

President Barack Obama went to Las Vegas yesterday to unveil his administration’s latest proposal to help homeowners facing possible foreclosure. About a quarter of all U.S. homeowners are “underwater,” which means their homes are not worth as much as they owe on their mortgages. Nevada has an extremely high foreclosure rate and suffered one of the worst boom-bust cycles in the housing market. It’s also a swing state in presidential elections, which made it a perfect venue for Obama yesterday. I wish his team were putting as much effort into crafting a housing policy that would help people.

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Weekend open thread: Ups and downs

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

Yesterday’s employment report was so awful (1 on a scale of 1 to 10) that a double-dip recession seems more likely than ever. At the Naked Capitalism blog, Edward Harrison reposted a piece from November 2009 on why Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers would be President Barack Obama’s Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. It’s worth a read. At the Bonddad blog, New Deal Democrat went over lots of weekly indicators and found more evidence of an economic “stall” than a contraction (so far).

I’m still surprised by some of the bills that didn’t get through the Iowa legislature during this year’s extra-long session. I learned this week that Iowa wasn’t the only state where pro-nuclear legislation faltered. The nuclear industry failed to persuade lawmakers in five other state legislatures to advance favored bills. After the jump I’ve posted a press release from Nuclear Bailout, a project of Physicians for Social Responsibility. The Iowa chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility lobbied hard against the bill written exclusively for the benefit of MidAmerican Energy.

In case you missed it, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Minority Leader Paul McKinley reflected on the 2011 session during the July 1 edition of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. Click the link to read the transcript or watch the video. Both of them expect some progress on property tax reform next year, though they may get a crack at that sooner if Governor Terry Branstad calls a special legislative session later this year.

I’ll post Bleeding Heartland’s final news roundup on what passed and didn’t pass during the 2011 session after Branstad signs or vetoes the bills that reached his desk during the last week of June.

This is an open thread.

UPDATE: Best slip of the tongue I’ve heard this year: while phone-banking for Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, State Senator Brad Zaun says he’s calling on behalf of “Congressman Boswell.” Democrat Leonard Boswell beat Zaun during the 2010 Congressional race in Iowa’s third district.

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Tone-deaf president picks corporate man Daley to run staff

The Associated Press is reporting that President Barack Obama has selected William Daley as his next chief of staff. It appears that Howie Klein is right: Obama was able to pick an even worse top staffer than Rahm Emanuel. After running the White House staff for nearly two years, Emanuel recently resigned in order to run for mayor of Chicago.

Open Secrets posted a “Revolving Door” profile on Daley showing his employment history in government and as a lobbyist. More background on why Daley’s a terrible choice can be found after the jump.

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Is Larry Summers on the way out?

The Atlantic’s Joshua Green thinks so:

I think Summers is going to leave sooner rather than later, possibly before the mid-term elections, and if not then, soon afterward.

Why? Because Summers is frustrated by his role, and his colleagues are clearly frustrated with him. Alexis Simendinger had a devastating item in last week’s National Journal suggesting that Summers’s “legendary self-regard” and “ego the size of the national debt” had gotten out of control. Some of Summers’s frustration no doubt stems from his wanting to be Treasury secretary. When that plum went to Geithner, Summers cast his eye on the Fed chairmanship and agreed to bide his time until Ben Bernanke’s term ended at the NEC–a staff position well below his old job as Clinton’s Treasury secretary. Most administration officials tactfully avoid pointing this out, because Summers has a fragile ego. But that’s why Joe Biden is so great. “How many former Secretaries of the Treasury would come in not as Secretary of the Treasury?” Biden blurted out to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza last fall.

But Summers didn’t get the Fed job either. Apparently that didn’t sit well. Administration insiders told Simendinger that Summers demanded a series of perks as compensation, including cabinet status, golf dates with the president, and a personal car and driver. In the “No Drama” Obama administration, such behavior stands out.  […]

Summers always seemed a bad fit for NEC director because the job entails dispassionately presenting the president with the counsel of his competing economic advisers. Summers doesn’t do “dispassionate” and he didn’t want to limit himself to fielding others’ advice–he had plenty of his own to offer. In other words, he was supposed to be the referee, but he also wanted to play power forward.

Summers was one of President Obama’s worst appointments, in my opinion, but I wouldn’t expect the president to reshuffle his economic team unless a mostly-jobless recovery continues, or the worst-case scenario of a douple-dip recession develops. Anyway, Summers’ departure wouldn’t herald a real change in economic policy if Green is right about Timothy Geithner being “ever more secure at Treasury.”

What do you think, Bleeding Heartland readers?

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