On the eve of Independence Day, Pennsylvania announced that 758,939 registered voters, including 186,830 voters in Philadelphia, do not have a PennDOT ID.
The state plans to spend $5 million in Help America Vote (HAVA) funds “on educating voters with regard to voting procedures relating to the recently enacted House Bill 934, which imposes a new requirement for voters to present photo identification at the polls, beginning with the November 2012 General Election.”
In the run-up to the April 24 primary election, the Bravo Group proposed PSAs to educate voters about the new photo ID requirement. The videos show a stunning disconnect with the voters who would be blocked from voting by the restrictive photo ID requirement.
The Bravo Group has since been awarded a $250,000 contract to develop the “Community Outreach and Public Relations portion of the 2012 General Election Voter Education Media Campaign.” The contract was awarded under an “expedited RFP” in arguable violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The book reportedly tells how three stooges appointees – former White House Chief of Rahm Emanuel, former Director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner – “hijacked” the Obama presidency.
Frank Rich and Adam Moss of New York Magazine received an advance copy. Here’s what they had to say:
Adam: Hi, Frank. So there’s a little commotion about this new book Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, which is being published on Tuesday. And as it happens, you and I have actually read it! So let’s talk about that this week. To give readers a super-fast overview, it’s a book, essentially, about Obama’s economic team during his first two years in office. The news of the book, according to some reports, is that Tim Geithner was insubordinate to the president, pursuing his own pro-banker agenda. Or, according to other reports, that Larry Summers was insubordinate to the president, pursuing his own — well, monomaniacal agenda. I’d add that it’s also about Rahm Emanuel being insubordinate to the president, just because. Basically, it’s about the presidency being hijacked by these three guys. And the guys thing is important because they’re pretty awful to women. Anyway, they’re the villains. Paul Volcker, Christina Romer, and Elizabeth Warren are the heroes. Bankers win, America loses. Did I get that right?
Frank: Hi, Adam, and yes, you did! I would point out that among the other heroes are more women (Sheila Bair, Brooksley Born, Maria Cantwell) and at least one man, the Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who also seems to be a serious Suskind source and who has now returned to the White House to succeed Austan Goolsbee and Romer as head of the Council of Economic Advisers. Not that that will do any good. I think the portrait of Geithner is devastating — his countermanding of the president’s wishes to make a Wall Street object lesson of Citigroup, his nasty “Elizabeth Warren strategy” to silence and neuter the administration’s rare genuine reformer. And yet Geithner is the only member of the original economic team still standing in the White House, poised to countermand any other rare independent voice that might yet speak up, like Krueger’s.
A: You think the portrait of Geithner is more devastating than the one of Summers? I guess. In that instance you cite, Obama asks to put the dissolving of Citibank on the table, and Geithner simply ignores him, “walking back” the decision, in political parlance. More insidiously, he creates the framework, borrowed from Hippocrates, of “first, do no harm,” which effectively cuts off any bold reforms for fear of their potential effects on the market. But Summers is portrayed as an egotistical nut job, single-mindedly determined to get Bernanke’s job; when he doesn’t get it, he goes bananas. He is supposed to be a conduit for the collective advice of the team, but undermines his colleagues, only passing along advice and information that supports his positions. I was kind of stunned how many officials were willing to go on the record against him.
Peter Orszag relays this eviscerating quote that Summers said to him about Obama during the worst of the economic distress. According to Orszag, Summers says, “You know, Peter we’re really home alone. There’s no adult in charge. Clinton would never have made these mistakes.” Later, Orszag says to Suskind, “Larry just didn’t think the president knew what he was deciding. Was this [obstruction of the president’s wishes] outright and willful?” In other words, asks Orszag, was Summers saying, “I know more than the president flat-out? That strikes me as ... likely.” In an amazing memo, Pete Rouse, who would replace Emanuel temporarily as chief of staff, recommends firing Summers for “Larry’s imperious and heavy-handed direction of the economic policy process.” Romer says Summers made her feel “like a piece of meat.”
In the end, nobody’s talking to Summers — not even his crony Geithner. Furious that Geithner didn’t recommend him for Bernanke’s job, he stands Geithner up at a dinner for all the former Treasury secretaries — Summers is the only living former secretary not there. Geithner says, “Larry would rather be in Davos than at dinner with me.” At least according to Suskind, the only person who could stand Summers was Obama, which — in Suskind’s telling — was a misjudgment that had a rather profound effect on the first chunk of Obama’s presidency.
President Obama will unveil his jobs plan before a joint session of Congress tonight.
There's been a lot of speculation about what will be included in his latest Big Speech. Rep. Maxine Waters questions whether the president will give voice to the jobless crisis in the African American community.
There are roughly 3 million African Americans out of work today, a number nearly equal to the entire population of Iowa. I would suggest that if the entire population of Iowa, a key state on the electoral map and a place that served as a stop on the president’s jobs bus tour were unemployed, they would be mentioned in the president’s speech and be the beneficiary of targeted public policy.
So, one question to be answered this evening is, are the unemployed in the African-American community, including almost 45 percent of its youth, as important as the people of Iowa?
This evening, as the President speaks to the nation about his plan to create jobs, he must acknowledge the economic disaster in the African American community, whose unemployment rate hovers at roughly 16.7 percent, almost double that of the general population and equal to depression-era levels. He must then articulate how the plan he puts forth will target the communities with the highest rates of unemployment, including the African American community.
While Obama may not say our name, Gallup has given us a new name, “outlier.” CBS News reports:
Now, with Hispanic approval ratings getting closer and closer to the national average, Gallup notes that “blacks have become an extreme outlier -- the only major racial group showing well-above-average approval.”
Still, black Americans' unwavering support may not be enough to get Obama to acknowledge black pain. As Waters observed:
There are those, who believe that the President, because he is black, cannot talk specifically about issues directly impacting the black community, like high unemployment. They suggest that doing so would endanger the President’s chances of being re-elected. I share the desire to reelect the first black President.
But, I would offer a slightly different analysis. If the unemployment rates in the African American Community continue to climb, like they did in August by almost a full percentage point, those African American voters who came out to the polls for the first time in 2008 but who have since lost their home and/or their job, may not return to the polls. Therefore, targeting public policy to a community who accounted for 13 percent of the electorate in ‘08, and who is now experiencing the culmination of a decade of economic crisis, is not just good policy, but good politics.
As expected, my post about black female civil rights leaders being left out of the meeting sparked accusations that I am a “hater.” My response: Guilty as charged.
I hate that Wells Fargo was the “Lead Sponsor” of the NAACP’s 101st annual convention. And they’re still hooked up in Los Angeles.
The predatory lender was a “Principal Sponsor” of the National Urban League’s centennial conference, and will be back on board when the League kicks off its annual conference this week.
Now check this out: On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board ordered Wells Fargo to pay an $85 million fine for steering borrowers with good credit into subprime loans. I hate when that happens.
The order reads:
The $85 million civil money penalty is the largest the Board has assessed in a consumer-protection enforcement action and is the first formal enforcement action taken by a federal bank regulatory agency to address alleged steering of borrowers into high-cost, subprime loans.
The order addresses allegations that Wells Fargo Financial sales personnel steered borrowers who were potentially eligible for prime interest rate loans into loans at higher, subprime interest rates, resulting in greater costs to borrowers. The order also addresses separate allegations that Wells Fargo Financial sales personnel falsified information about borrowers’ incomes to make it appear that the borrowers qualified for loans when they would not have qualified based on their actual incomes.
I have been asked to identify the black women leaders who should have been invited. I will not name names because that would be a betrayal of their trust. Although they know their stuff, they would be ostracized and penalized for breaking the silence.
And I would really hate for that to happen.
UPDATE: The Huffington Post reports the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Wells Fargo for “allegedly preying upon African American borrowers during the housing bubble and steering them into high-cost subprime loans.”
The NAACP has refused to disclose the financial terms of its “partnership” with Wells Fargo. But as a 501(c)(3), what it does in the dark eventually will be made public. So I made a mental note to check the civil rights organization’s IRS Form 990 to see how much it had been paid to hook up with the predatory lender.
It’s clear what the NAACP has become; now they’re just negotiating the price. So frankly, I put the issue on the backburner. That is until Saturday.
Americans know that banks have mistreated borrowers in many ways in foreclosure cases. Among other things, they habitually filed false court documents. There were investigations. We’ve been waiting for federal and state regulators to crack down.
Prepare for a disappointment. As early as this week, federal bank regulators and the nation’s big banks are expected to close a deal that is supposed to address and correct the scandalous abuses. If these agreements are anything like the draft agreement recently published by the American Banker — and we believe they will be — they will be a wrist slap, at best. At worst, they are an attempt to preclude other efforts to hold banks accountable. They are unlikely to ease the foreclosure crisis.
The NAACP’s hookup with Wells Fargo is more than a disappointment. It’s a measure of the extent to which the nation’s oldest civil rights organization has lost its way.