Matt Taibi: Another Hidden Bailout: Helping Wall Street Collect Your Rent.
Here’s yet another form of hidden bailout the federal government doles out to our big banks, without the public having much of a clue.
This is from the WSJ this morning:
Some of the biggest names on Wall Street are lining up to become landlords to cash-strapped Americans by bidding on pools of foreclosed properties being sold by Fannie Mae…
While the current approach of selling homes one-by-one has its own high costs and is sometimes inefficient, selling properties in bulk to large investors could require Fannie Mae to sell at a big discount, leading to larger initial costs.
In con artistry parlance, they call this the “reload.” That’s when you hit the same mark twice – typically with a second scam designed to “fix” the damage caused by the first scam. Someone robs your house, then comes by the next day and sells you a fancy alarm system, that’s the reload.
In this case, banks pumped up the real estate market by creating huge volumes of subprime loans, then dumped a lot of them on, among others, Fannie and Freddie, the ever-ready enthusiastic state customer. Now the loans have crashed in value, yet the GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises) are still out there feeding the banks money through two continuous bailouts.
Congratulations, America, your quasi-governmental housing entity is about to subcontract out mass-landlording/slumlording jobs to the likes of John Paulson and Warren Buffett…
How Occupy helped labor win on the West Coast
Defiance of labor law and movement support yield a union victory in Washington state
Earlier this month longshore workers in Washington state reached a contract with a boss that has spent the past year fighting to keep their union out. That company, the multinational EGT, sought to run its new grain terminal in the town of Longview, as the only facility on the West Coast without the famously militant International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). A victory by EGT would have emboldened employers up and down the coast to seek to free themselves of ILWU influence. And if the union — with the help of the Occupy movement — had not defied the law, EGT would have succeeded.
The Longview struggle began last March when, after initial discussions with ILWU Local 21, EGT announced its intention to run its new grain terminal without them. The ILWU held protest rallies, and joined the Port of Longview’s lawsuit charging that EGT was bound by the union’s contract with the publicly owned port. The union may have had a good legal case. But so did Washington’s Boeing workers when their boss blamed their strikes for its decision to take new work to South Carolina. Boeing mostly got away with it anyway.
Rather than putting all their faith in the law while EGT did its work without them, ILWU members chose to get in the company’s way. Literally. Beginning in July, union members blocked railroad tracks to prevent grain shipments from passing. According to media reports, workers also tore down fencing and dumped grain. Police charged that workers threw rocks at them; labor denied members were violent, and charged that police beat and pepper-sprayed workers without justification. The ILWU did not formally endorse its members’ actions, but its international president was among the dozens arrested. In September, 200 union members and supporters lined up outside the building housing the sheriff’s office and announced they had arrived to turn themselves in for nonviolently defending their jobs.
In their latest move in the battle over contraception coverage, top Republicans in Congress are going for broke: They’re now pushing a bill that would allow employers and insurance companies to pick and choose which health benefits to provide based simply on executives’ personal moral beliefs. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the top GOPer in the Senate, has already endorsed the proposal, and it could come to a vote this week. The measure would make the religious exemptions to President Barack Obama’s health care bill so large they’d swallow it whole.
"This is about gutting the Affordable Care Act and the protections it was meant to establish," says Leila Abolfazli, a lawyer focusing at the National Women’s Law Center who focuses on health and reproductive rights.
Obama’s Affordable Care Act requires all health care plans to offer certain services and benefits, including birth control. Last week, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) offered a “conscience amendment,” to the law, pitching it as a way to allay religious employers’ qualms about providing birth control to their employees.
But Blunt’s proposal doesn’t just apply to religious employers and birth control. Instead, it would allow any insurer or employer, religiously affiliated or otherwise, to opt out of providing any health care services required by federal law—everything from maternity care to screening for diabetes. Employers wouldn’t have to cite religious reasons for their decision; they could just say the treatment goes against their moral convictions. That exception could include almost anything—an employer could theoretically claim a “moral objection” to the cost of providing a given benefit. The bill would also allow employers to sue if state or federal regulators try to make them comply with the law.
If Republican leaders get their way and Blunt’s bill becomes law, a boss who regarded overweight people and smokers with moral disgust could exclude coverage of obesity and tobacco screening from his employees’ health plans. A Scientologist employer could deny its employees depression screening because Scientologists believe psychiatry is morally objectionable. A management team that thought HIV victims brought the disease upon themselves could excise HIV screening from its employees’ insurance coverage. Your boss’ personal prejudices, not science or medical expertise, would determine which procedures your insurance would cover for you and your kids.
What if your boss claims to be a Christian Scientist or Jehovah’s Witness? Could s/he refuse coverage for practically any medical procedure?
OMG, what if s/he said you couldn’t extend your insurance to your own family if your family consists of a same-sex partner?! Can you imagine? Oh…right.
Source: Mother Jones