Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Americans continue to support politicians who rob them blind

Politicians use rhetoric about defending "average" Americans while they make themselves rich -- and protect their wealthy friends from their own poor choices -- on the backs of taxpayers.

Barack Hussein Obama and Chris Dodd put the lie to the story that they're for the "little guy." They're looking out for themselves.

On Obama and Dodd, by way of Michelle Malkin.

First, the man who would be president:
Today, The Washington Post Reported That Obama Received A Sweetheart Mortgage Deal For His Chicago Mansion:

Obama Received A Discounted Rate On His $1.32 Million Mortgage For His Georgian Mansion In Chicago. “Shortly after joining the U.S. Senate and while enjoying a surge in income, Barack Obama bought a $1.65 million restored Georgian mansion in an upscale Chicago neighborhood. To finance the purchase, he secured a $1.32 million loan from Northern Trust in Illinois. The freshman Democratic senator received a discount. He locked in an interest rate of 5.625 percent on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, below the average for such loans at the time in Chicago.” (Joe Stephens, “Obama Got Discount On Home Loan,” The Washington Post, 7/2/08)

* “The Loan Was Unusually Large, Known In Banker Lingo As A ‘Super Super Jumbo.’ Obama Paid No Origination Fee Or Discount Points, As Some Consumers Do To Reduce Their Interest Rates.” (Joe Stephens, “Obama Got Discount On Home Loan,” The Washington Post, 7/2/08)

Obama’s Discounted Rate Could Have Saved Him More Than $300 Per Month. “Compared with the average terms offered at the time in Chicago, Obama’s rate could have saved him more than $300 per month.” (Joe Stephens, “Obama Got Discount On Home Loan,” The Washington Post, 7/2/08)

The Obamas Secured Their Discounted Home Loan Despite The Fact That They Had “No Prior Relationship With Northern Trust When They Applied For The Loan.” “The Obamas had no prior relationship with Northern Trust when they applied for the loan. They received an oral commitment on Feb. 4, 2005, and locked in the rate of 5.625 percent, the campaign said. On that date, HSH data show, the average rate in Chicago for a 30-year fixed-rate jumbo loan with no points was about 5.94 percent.” (Joe Stephens, “Obama Got Discount On Home Loan,” The Washington Post, 7/2/08)

NOTE: Obama Also Has Received $71,000 In Campaign Contributions From Northern Trust Employees. “Since 1990, Northern Trust employees have donated more than $739,000 to federal campaigns, including $71,000 to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.” (Joe Stephens, “Obama Got Discount On Home Loan,” The Washington Post, 7/2/08)

FLASHBACK: Obama Paid $300,000 Less Than The Asking Price For His Mansion, While Tony Rezko’s Wife Paid Full Price For A Vacant Lot Next Door On The Very Same Day. “Two years ago, Obama bought a mansion on the South Side, in the Kenwood neighborhood, from a doctor. On the same day, [Antoin 'Tony'] Rezko’s wife, Rita Rezko, bought the vacant lot next door from the same seller. The doctor had listed the properties for sale together. He sold the house to Obama for $300,000 below the asking price. The doctor got his asking price on the lot from Rezko’s wife.” (Tim Novak, “Obama And His Rezko Ties,” Chicago Sun-Times, 4/23/07)

* The Seller Of Obama’s Home “Wanted To Sell Both Properties At The Same Time.” “On the same day Obama closed on his house, Rezko’s wife bought the adjacent empty lot, meeting the condition of the seller who wanted to sell both properties at the same time.” (Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz, “The Rezko Connection,” ABC News’ “The Blotter” Blog, abcnews.go.com, 1/10/08)

* Obama Later Purchased A Portion Of Rezko’s Land For $104,500; It Was Valued At $40,500. “Later, the Obamas bought a 10-foot-by-150-foot piece of the lot for $104,500. An appraisal put the value of the strip at $40,500, a spokesman said, but Obama considered it fair to pay one-sixth of the original price for one-sixth of the lot.” (Peter Slevin, “Obama Says He Regrets Land Deal With Fundraiser,” The Washington Post, 12/17/06)

Jim Johnson, A Former CEO Of Fannie Mae And Former Top Campaign Adviser, Also Received Sweetheart Housing Deal:

Obama’s Former Top Adviser, Jim Johnson, Resigned “After His Favorable Countrywide Loan Became Public.” “Within Obama’s presidential campaign organization, former Fannie Mae chief executive James A. Johnson resigned abruptly as head of the vice presidential search committee after his favorable Countrywide loan became public.” (Joe Stephens, “Obama Got Discount On Home Loan,” The Washington Post, 7/2/08)

Johnson Received Special Loans From Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo. “Countrywide Financial Corp. makes mortgage loans through a vast network of offices, brokers and call centers. But a few customers have gotten their loans a special way: through Countrywide Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo. These borrowers, known internally as ‘friends of Angelo’ or FoA, include two former CEOs of Fannie Mae, the biggest buyer of Countrywide’s mortgages, say people familiar with the matter. One was James Johnson, a longtime Democratic Party power and an adviser to Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign, who this past week was named to a panel that is vetting running-mate possibilities for the presumed nominee.” (Glenn R. Simpson and James R. Hagerty, “Countrywide Friends Got Good Loans,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/7/08)

* While CEO Of Fannie Mae, Johnson And Mozilo Worked Closely And Maintained A “Close Friendship.” “From 1991 to 1998, Mr. Johnson served as CEO of the Federal National Mortgage Association, also known as Fannie Mae, which worked closely with Countrywide, one of the nation’s leading lenders and loan servicing companies. In 1996, Mr. Johnson named Mr. Mozilo as chairman of Fannie Mae’s national advisory council. A 1999 article in the American Banker said the two men had a ‘close friendship.’” (Josh Gerstein, “Top Talent Scout For Obama Tied To Subprime Lender,” The New York Sun, 6/9/08)

“Property Records Show Mr. Johnson Has Received More Than $7 Million In Loans From Countrywide Since 1998, The First Coming In The Waning Days Of His Fannie Mae Tenure.” (Glenn R. Simpson and James R. Hagerty, “Countrywide Friends Got Good Loans,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/7/08)

* At Least Two Of The Mortgages Were At Rates “Below Market Averages.” “The Journal said at least two of the mortgages, among a series of loans made available to people Countrywide officials called ‘friends of Angelo,’ were at rates below market averages, though it is difficult to predict a market rate without access to nonpublic information about a borrower’s credit history and other factors that can reduce interest charges on a loan.” (Josh Gerstein, “Top Talent Scout For Obama Tied To Subprime Lender,” The New York Sun, 6/9/08)

NOTE: Penny Pritzker, Obama’s National Finance Chair And Campaign Bundler, Owned A Failed Bank That Specialized In Subprime Lending:

Penny Pritzker Is The National Finance Chairman For Barack Obama. “And Penny Pritzker, a Chicago philanthropist, serves as Mr. Obama’s national finance chairman even as her brother, Jay Robert, holds fund-raisers across town for Mrs. Clinton.” (Jodi Kantor, “In Democratic Families, Politics Makes For Estranged Bedfellows,” The New York Times, 2/4/08)

* Pritzker Is A Bundler For Obama’s Presidential Campaign And Has Committed To Raising Over $200,000. (Obama For America Website, www.barackobama.com, Accessed 5/19 /08)

The Pritzker Family Co-Owned Superior Bank FSB. “Ms. Pritzker, who declined to be interviewed, has confronted other challenges, including the 2001 collapse of Superior Bank FSB, which the Pritzker family co-owned, resulting in a $460-million payment to federal regulators, and a rift over family assets that settled out of court in 2005. She oversees the Pritzker family’s non-hotel real estate interests and chairs its TransUnion LLC credit bureau.” (Steven R. Strahler, “Penny Pritzker,” Chicago Crain’s Business, 5/7/07)

“Superior Bank Specialized In ‘Sub-Prime Lending,’ Which Is Making Loans To Underserved Borrowers, Who Are Often Poor Minorities.” (Kathleen Day, “Regulators Probe Bank Loan To Co-Owner,” The Washington Post, 7/31/01)
On Dodd:
Two weeks ago, the Banking Committee chairman was busy introducing a $300 billion rescue package for the subprime mortgage industry and its victims when news broke that Countywide Financial - subprime’s Enron - had given Dodd special “VIP” mortgage rates on homes in Connecticut and Washington, saving him $75,000 over the life of the mortgages. Dodd’s initial reaction was wounded outrage. How could anyone think that he’d done something wrong? After it became clear he’d known he was getting VIP handling (on orders from Angelo Mozilo, the chairman-founder of Countrywide), Dodd backtracked, insisting he hadn’t realized what “VIP” meant.

With 8,000 US families facing foreclosure daily, the $200 per month Dodd’s been saving doesn’t sound so small - and Mozilo’s own toxic reputation, especially after he admitted pocketing $142 million last year just as Countrywide started sinking like the Titanic, hasn’t helped.

Dodd hasn’t been the only one caught up in the scandal. Senator Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, also got Countrywide’s VIP treatment - as did former Clinton-era heavyweights Donna Shalala, Alphonso Jackson, Richard Holbrooke, and Jim Johnson. Conrad quickly mailed off a check for the estimated value of his VIP treatment to Habitat for Humanity, and announced he was taking out new mortgages. Shalala, Jackson, and Johnson meanwhile have ducked the press - though Johnson, who was heading the search for Obama’s vice presidential candidate, had to hastily resign that role.

Dodd, however, keeps insisting - despite growing statewide criticism and a sharp drop in his poll ratings - that he has no plans to give up his VIP benefits, because he has done nothing wrong.

…The $300 billion subprime rescues package Dodd is now managing may be in trouble, with critics tarring it as the “Dodd Countrywide bill.” We voters in turn need to do a little remembering ourselves here, because this bill is the latest “rescue package” in a long ignominious history that includes corporate bailouts such as the Chrysler and Lockheed salvage operations; the savings and loan rescue; the two Mexican rescues, the Asian rescue; the airline rescue after 9/11; the ongoing bailout of agribusiness; and lest we forget, the bailout of Wall Street and Bear Stearns just two months ago.

A chief beneficiary of the Dodd bill is Bank of America, which has just bought Countrywide. If Dodd’s bill passes, taxpayers will take on much of the Bank of America’s risk of further portfolio default - a move worth billions to the bank.

Washington desperately needs to stanch the forced liquidation of millions of American homeowners. Yet once again, the benefits of its rescue efforts will accrue unequally - stacked heavily in favor of the wealthy and the powerful - because in American politics, as in Orwell’s “1984,” some are more equal than others.

Especially the VIPs.