Keeping Up With The Story

In August 2014, I posted an article about the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Obama Administration distributing funds from fines imposed on banks to political leftist groups. The article explains that the Bank of America was forced to pay fines that Countrywide Mortgage and Merrill Lynch had incurred before they were owned by Bank of America.

The article explains what happened to these fines:

The groups benefitting from the lawsuit, according to Investor’s Business Daily, are the National Council of La Raza, Operation Hope, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. The money also went to “delinquent borrowers” in Chicago, Oakland, Detroit, Philadelphia and other major “Democrat strongholds.”

“This is a wealth redistribution scheme disguised as a lawsuit,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told The Daily Caller. “And who benefits from the distribution? Interest groups the administration relies on, outside interest groups, allies and politicians in communities trying to benefit as well.”

…La Raza, Operation Hope, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America have all intimidated banks to give loans to minorities, even if they can’t afford to pay them back.

This was the government equivalent of a mob shakedown.

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article about this practice.

The article reports:

Emails written by Obama administration Department of Justice officials confirm reports the agency engaged in a systemic effort to funnel money to liberal advocacy organizations from settlements reached with big banks.

The documents, obtained by the House Judiciary Committee as part of an ongoing investigation, reveal the Obama Justice Department effectively skirted Congress’s budgetary authority by requiring that major financial institutions donate to a group of affordable housing nonprofits and legal advocacy organizations as part of settlement agreements resulting from predatory mortgage lending practices.

The internal DOJ documents represent the latest revelation in a two-year investigation spearheaded by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.

The article at The Daily Caller reports that this practice has been stopped:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo banning the DOJ from entering into third party settlement agreements after substantial evidence emerged implicating the Obama DOJ in such practices.

“When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people — not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power,” Sessions said.

The more I learn about some of the actions of the Obama Administration, the more I wonder why Congress did not address some of the wrongdoings as they were going on.

Who Made This Decision?

On Sunday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about some of the recent bank settlements that were supposed to help consumers. Well, I think consumers were on the list right after political entities.

The article reports:

Imagine if the president of the United States forced America’s biggest banks to funnel hundreds of millions—and potentially billions—of dollars to the corporations and lobbyists who supported his agenda, all while calling it “Main Street Relief.” The public outcry would rightly be deafening. Yet the Obama administration has used a similar strategy to enrich its political allies, advance leftist pet projects, and protect its legacy—and hardly anyone has noticed.

The administration’s multiyear campaign against the banking industry has quietly steered money to organizations and politicians who are working to ensure liberal policy and political victories at every level of government. The conduit for this funding is the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, a coalition of federal and state regulators and prosecutors created in 2012 to “identify, investigate, and prosecute instances of wrongdoing” in the residential mortgage-backed securities market. In conjunction with the Justice Department, the RMBS Working Group has reached multibillion-dollar settlements with essentially every major bank in America.

The most recent came in April when the Justice Department announced a $5.1 billion settlement with Goldman Sachs. In February Morgan Stanley agreed to a $3.2 billion settlement. Previous targets were Citigroup ($7 billion), J.P. Morgan Chase ($13 billion), and Bank of America, which in 2014 reached the largest civil settlement in American history at $16.65 billion. Smaller deals with other banks have also been announced.

You might expect that maybe some of the money would go into the U.S. Treasury to pay off some of the deficit. Silly person.

The article reports:

…a substantial portion is allocated to private, nonprofit organizations drawn from a federally approved list. Some groups on the list—Catholic Charities, for instance—are relatively nonpolitical. Others—La Raza, the National Urban League, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and more—are anything but.

…As part of their “consumer relief” penalties, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase must also pay a minimum $75 million to Community Development Financial Institutions—taxpayer-funded groups propped up by the Obama administration as an alternative to payday lenders. “Housing Counseling Agencies” also get at least $30 million. This essentially circumvents Congress’s recent decision to cut $43 million in federal funds routed to these groups through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The politicians who negotiate the settlements as part of the RMBS Working Group have also directed money to their supporters and states. Illinois’s Democratic attorney general Lisa Madigan announced she had secured $22.5 million from February’s Morgan Stanley deal for her state’s debt-ridden pension funds—a blatant payout to public unions. The deals with J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup yielded a further $344 million for both “consumer relief” and direct payments to pension funds.

The article concludes:

Despite the best efforts of a few principled legislators late last year, Congress missed an opportunity to amend the Justice Department’s funding bill to stop further handouts. Lawmakers now have another opportunity as Congress enters budget negotiation for fiscal year 2017. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) introduced a bill in April that would prevent government officials from enforcing settlements that funnel money to third parties, and it needs to gain wider traction with his colleagues. The political shakedowns disguised as public service must end.]

Is there any doubt that we need a new paradigm in Washington? There was no “Main Street Relief” involved in any of this–there was, however, Washington corruption. It was nothing more than a legal stick-up.

Informed Voters Already Knew This, But Here It Is Again

This article appeared in the Examiner in December of 2012, but because of the way the media has reported the events involved, it might be news to some people. Just as an aside, here is the YouTube video that explains this beautifully. I have embedded this because I am concerned that it may disappear:

Back to the Examiner. The headline of the Examiner article is, “New study confirms that economy was destroyed by Democrat politicians.” A bit provocative, but actually very accurate.

The article reports:

A new study from the widely respected National Bureau of Economic Research released this week has confirmed beyond question that the left’s race-baiting attacks on the housing market (the Community Reinvestment Act–enacted under Carter, made shockingly more aggressive under Clinton) is directly responsible for imploding the housing market and destroying the economy.

The study painstakingly sorted through failed home loans that caused the housing market collapse and identified an overwhelming connection between them and CRA mortgages.

The article concludes:

-Even The New York Times admitted that there is “little evidence” of any connection between the “Republican” deregulation measures Obama blames, like the Gramm-Bleach-Liley Act (signed into law by a Democrat), and the collapse of the housing market.

But non-Fox media have spent years deliberately and relentlessly inoculating people against the facts, training them to mindlessly blame Bush for being in charge when Democrat policies destroyed the economy. So here we sit, to this day, still watching Obama excuse and shrug off endless economic failures, illegal government takeovers and utter national bankruptcy with zero accountability.

It is important that voters understand what happened here. When you continue to lend money to people who can’t afford to pay it back, you eventually run into problems getting the money back. The Democrats phony charges of racism hurt black and white people and rich and poor people. Their policies were bad for everyone. Unfortunately, Democrats are again putting pressure on banks to relax their lending standards–running the risk of repeating the whole process. It wasn’t the big banks that caused the problem–it was the government and organizations like ACORN putting pressure on banks to make bad loans. Many of the major players in this scandal made millions and moved on to jobs in the Obama Administration.

The Mortgage Settlement

It’s easier for the government to blame the banks than to take responsibility for their own role in the housing meltdown. CNN Money posted an article today about the settlement reached with five of the largest home loan lenders.

The article reports:

Participating banks: The five mortgage servicers that are parties to the settlement — Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500) and Ally Financial — will pay a total of $5 billion to the states. Some of that money will go to foreclosed homeowners and the rest to the states.

Federal officials say negotiations are underway to expand the settlement to nine other major servicers, which would raise the overall value of the settlement to $30 billion.

I am not in any way connected to a bank (although I do use them), but this makes me totally furious. On September 28, 2008, Jeff Jacoby at Boston.com stated:

The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and “redlining” because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to “meet the credit needs” of “low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods.” Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms,Fannie Mae andFreddie Mac, encouraged this “subprime” lending by authorizing ever more “flexible” criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

I commend the effort to make home ownership available to more people; I object to putting pressue on banks to make bad loans. The fact that the government is now going after the banks they put at risk is the height of chutzpah. Going after the lenders they forced to make bad loans is simply another example of the anti-business attitude of the Obama Administration.

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Facts Are Such Inconvenient Things

Pinocchio visto da Enrico Mazzanti (1883)

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Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article about a recent fact check on some details of one of President Obama’s speeches. After Warren Buffet claimed that his secretary paid more taxes than he did, President Obama began to repeat the claim. Associated Press decided to do some fact-checking.

The article at Hot Air reported the following:

This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes and payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.

Lower-income households will pay less. For example, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay an average of 12.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 percent.

There is also the fact that if Warren Buffet wants to pay more in taxes, there is a place on his tax return that allows him to do just that. The flip side of this is wondering how many lawyers and accountants he employs to keep his taxes as low as possible. While I am piling on, I would like to refer to a story I posted on September 1 at rightwinggranny explaining that a business move recently made by Warren Buffet will result in Berkshire Hathaway paying a tax rate of 10.5 percent on the $300 million in dividends it will receive each year from Bank of America instead of the normal rate of 35 percent. If Mr. Buffet is so convinced millionaires should pay higher taxes, why did he bother to make that move?

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Warren Buffett And Taxes

President Barack Obama and Warren Buffett in t...

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On Tuesday there was an editorial in the Wall Street Journal about Warren Buffett and his taxes. I am not linking to the article because it is a subscribers only article.

The editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal points out that despite the fact that he is a strong cheerleader for increasing taxes on the wealthy, Warren Buffett does not practice what he preaches. Recently Mr. Buffett invested in Bank of America. Under normal circumstances, Berkshire Hathaway pays a top federal income tax rate of 35 percent. However, corporations can exclude 70 percent of the dividends they receive from an investment in another corporation. Because of that law, Berkshire will pay a tax rate of 10.5 percent on the $300 million in dividends it will receive each year from Bank of America. The shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway may appreciate this, as well they should, but it really doesn’t sound like the actions of someone who believes that the rich should pay more taxes. Maybe Mr. Buffett thinks that the ‘other’ rich should pay more taxes.

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