Good news — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has announced that it will begin supervising debt collection agencies starting on January 2, 2013.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a rule today that will allow the agency to federally supervise the larger consumer debt collectors for the first time. The CFPB also released the field guide that examiners will use to ensure that companies and banks engaging in debt collection are following the law.
"Millions of consumers are affected by debt collection, and we want to make sure they are treated fairly," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Today we are announcing that we will be supervising the larger debt collectors in the market for the first time at the federal level. We want all companies to realize that the better business choice is to follow the law — not break it."
I consider the creation of the CFPB to be one of the greatest achievements of the past four years, no thanks to the Republicans who fought tooth and nail to kill it.
The agency went without a director for over a year while Republicans blocked confirmation of Elizabeth Warren. The Republicans demanded that the agency be rendered toothless, ineffectual, and stripped of funding before they would confirm anyone as its director. President Obama later broke their blockade with a recess appointment of Richard Cordray, the former Attorney General of Ohio.
Perhaps it's poetic justice that blocking Elizabeth Warren as the director of the bureau may end up costing Republican Senator Scott Brown his seat.
Brothers gotta stick together, right Sununu:
SUNUNU: You have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or that he's got a slightly different reason for President Obama.
MORGAN: What reason would that be?
SUNUNU: Well, I think that when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being President of the United States — I applaud Colin for standing with him.
Racial pride. That is why Colin is voting for Obama. I guess that is why Sununu is voting for Romney and making all sorts of racially loaded comments. Condi Rice and JC Watts were unavailable for comment.
When the revolution comes, I do hope that establishment media "liberal" professional concern trolls are among the first up against the wall. Here's one of the worst offenders—Amy Sullivan—defending Richard Mourdock while insisting she's not defending him:
Let's get one thing straight from the start. I am not defending Richard Mourdock's position on abortion, including his opposition to a rape exception. So take that twitchy finger off the "send" button. However, I do want to examine some of the outrage surrounding the latest comments of a Republican politician regarding abortion and rape.
Despite the assertions of many liberal writers I read and otherwise admire, I don't think that politicians like Mourdock oppose rape exceptions because they hate women or want to control women. I think they're totally oblivious and insensitive and can't for a moment place themselves in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape.
What's the difference between wanting to control people simply because you want to control them and controlling them because you are insensitive and oblivious to their plight? It's an awfully fine line, isn't it?
If the point was "yes, he knows it's fucked up to have to bear a child who is the product of rape, but he thinks that obeying the will of Lord Tebow overrides everything", then fine, I'd see how maybe that's different from hating or wanting to control women. But that's not her point. She admits that if Mourdock were more sensitive, then he might think that the will of Lord Tebow is not quite so important.
And then to be shocked—SHOCKED —that liberals would dare try to get some political mileage out of some crazy shit a Republican said a few weeks before the election…what is the audience for this bullshit anyway? Why is someone paying Amy Sullivan a salary for this?
So someone has put together a chart showing which employees of what organizations have donated the most to the two presidential candidates.
For Obama, it's basically government workers and places where you'd probably find intelligent people.
For Romney, it's the banksters.
Note that "government workers" includes the military. For why would soldiers vote for a guy from the party that is constantly trying to slash veterans benefits?
A top adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign denied the nation's income inequality gap in a Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday, brushing off the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of the very wealthy by arguing that lower-income Americans are buying more consumer goods.
"Today we hear that the gains from economic growth accrue to the highest-income earners while the standard of living of the poor and middle America stagnates and the gap between the richest and the poorest grows ever wider," Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur argue. "That portrait of the country is wrong":
Yet the access of low-income Americans—those earning less than $20,000 in real 2009 dollars—to devices that are part of the "good life" has increased. The percentage of low-income households with a computer rose to 47.7% from 19.8% in 2001. The percentage of low-income homes with six or more rooms (excluding bathrooms) rose to 30% from 21.9% over the same period.
Appliances? The percentage of low-income homes with air-conditioning equipment rose to 83.5% from 65.8%, with dishwashers to 30.8% from 17.6%, with a washing machine to 62.4% from 57.2%, and with a clothes dryer to 56.5% from 44.9%.
The percentage of low-income households with microwave ovens grew to 92.4% from 74.9% between 2001 and 2009. Fully 75.5% of low-income Americans now have a cell phone, and over a quarter of those have access to the Internet through their phones.
But this argument, a favorite of conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, is highly misleading. Appliances and commonly used consumer gadgets like cell phones are necessities in the 21st century and are significantly cheaper today than they were just decades earlier. In fact, were families to sell their appliances in order to help pay for food and other basic necessities, many would still struggle — for while prices on microwaves and air conditioners have fallen, "the real everyday basics such as quality child care and out-of-pocket medical costs" are "squeezing the budgets of the poor and middle-class alike."
Hassett argues that safety net programs like "unemployment insurance, food stamps, Medicaid" help families afford basic needs, further shrinking the nation's income gap. But these programs are already failing to keep up with need and Romney and Ryan have proposed massive cuts to the safety net in order to pay down the deficit and finance a tax cut plan that is heavily skewed towards the rich.
Their approach would only exacerbate the differences between the rich and poor — a gap that has grown dramatically since the late 1970s. Indeed, compared to the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States has a Gini coefficient — a number that measures the distribution of income on a scale of 0 (perfectly equal) to 1 (perfectly unequal) — of 0.47 and ranks near the very bottom in inequality. America also suffers from the absolute highest "percentage of national income that went to the top 1 percent" and "has seen income inequality increase at a much faster rate than most other countries."
This trend is already devastating the American democratic ideals of equal opportunity and upward mobility. Unfortunately, neither Romney nor his advisers can see the problem or offer the kind of tax and economic policies that will help solve it.
It's always amazing to watch Tina Fey get her dander up, but I think she hits on something particularly important at the Center for Reproductive Rights Inaugural Gala in calling out "grey-faced men with $2 haircuts" who display an unnerving confidence in telling women what does and doesn't count as rape and what happens to them, or should happen to them, physically and psychologically, when it happens:
The important line is actually one before the catchy burn on older, male, Republican legislators who don't trust women: "I wish we could have an honest and respectful dialogue about these complicated issues, but it seems like we can't, right now." For me, that's part of what's been frustrating and frightening about this latest round of statements by politicians on women's bodily autonomy and functions. This isn't a conversation, and the people on both sides of it have wildly different assumptions. The idea that I'm supposed to trust someone who doesn't even understand how my body functions, much less how I might react intellectually or emotionally to trauma, to make decisions on my behalf is so frightening and rage-inducing it's an immobilizing experience. As someone who is inclined to niceness, to sticking with reason even against all odds, Fey's issuing permission slip to abandon courtesies that aren't being extended to women, to call crazy crazy, and standing up for the idea that being driven nuts by this stuff isn't a sign of oversensitivity. It's a rational reaction to being treated with condescension and threatened with a substantive deprival of rights that are dear to me, whether it's my ability to have an abortion if necessary or to get easy, affordable coverage to contraception. Waves like the recent one of anti-woman we've been caught in can be immobilizing. Fey's speech is a reminder that to save yourself, you have to keep swimming.