The Grassley-Isakson-Coburn-Collins-Bad Nelson Bill

I explained yesterday how the people who crafted the crappy Senate compromise bill were, to a significant degree, Republicans. Republicans who won’t even vote for the bill.

But I forgot to credit the guy who really put the stupid in this bill: Johnny Isakson. Isakson is the former realtor who threw a huge sop to his realtor buddies into the bill, one that does little to actually stimulate the economy (aside from realtors, who after all got us into this mess), and which costs more than promised. The amendment, a $15,000 credit for those buying new or existing homes, will basically encourage more people to move houses–but will not necessarily incent new home building (because it applies to existing homes) nor will it encourage new buyers who would otherwise not have bought (because it’s for all buyers, not just first-time buyers).

Here’s Calculated Risk on how stupid this amendment is:

The sponsors and supporters of this tax credit believe this will support house prices – a mistake because this will mostly just shuffle homeowners between homes, and not reduce the excess supply.

If the incentive was for new homes only, the credit would probably help create some construction jobs. However, the job creation would be limited because of the competing oversupply of existing homes.

The tax credit for existing homes does almost nothing to help the economy. Some might argue that this is more work for agents and home inspectors, and might help with furniture sales, but the impact will be minor. Remember existing home sales are already at a normal level compared to the stock of owner occupied units, so agents are doing fine already (just not compared to the bubble years).

[snip]

The key problem for housing is prices are too high. How does this tax credit help reduce prices? Why are we trying to artificially increase the turnover rate? And why are we targeting a tax credit at higher income individuals?

Dean Baker, more succinctly, simply calls it the House Flipping Subsidy. And oh, by the way, it costs $30 billion more than Isakson originally claimed it would cost. The amendment is still in the "compromise bill" (the cowardly Senate voted it through on a voice vote), and Isakson is not about to vote for the final bill.

So to recap, here’s how this crappy bill came about.

Back in January, Chuck Grassley got the Obama Administration to agree to move the Alternative Minimum Tax patch into stimulus, for a cost of $69 billion.The AMT patch, because it basically goes to upper middle class taxpayers, will likely have minimal stimulutive value. And it would be passed later this year, in any case. But unlike other measures that weren’t really stimulus and which should be passed in normal budgeting process, this remains in the bill. Chuck Grassley is not going to vote for this stimulus bill. 

During the amendment process, former realtor Johnny Isakson–along with amendment co-sponsor Sanctimonious Joe–offered up an amendment that does little else than put money in realtor’s pockets, all for $30 billion more than Isakson and Sanctimonious Joe promised promised. Even worse, this amendment basically encourages the kind of speculative, price-inflating home sales that got us into this mess. And a bunch of cowardly Senators passed it on a voice vote. Johnny Isakson is not going to vote for this stimulus bill (though Sanctimonious Joe will).

Then, in comes Tom Coburn, one of the Senate’s most reactionary members. He proposed an amendment that basically prohibits stimulus funds from being used to do anything pretty: parks, museums, highway beautification. That amendment passed with big Democratic support, and the amendment remains in the bill. Tom Coburn is not going to vote for this stimulus bill.

Finally, Susan Collins got together with the Bad Nelson to make changes that would ensure they would vote for the bill. Because Chuck Grassley–who is not going to vote for the bill–added $69 billion for a non-stimulative tax fix that would pass later this year anyway (I don’t know if Collins and Nelson have made cuts to compensate for Isakson’s House Flipping Subsidy), Collins and Bad Nelson had an excuse to start cutting really stimulative funds from the bill: school building, Head Start, and funds for states to retain essential services.

And that’s how we got to a bill that will create 728,143 fewer jobs than the House bill.

The Grassley-Isakson-Coburn-Collins-Bad Nelson Bill. A bill so bad that most of its authors won’t even vote for it.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

78 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Great post.

    What will the netroots do and what points will the netroots mobilize around?

    Hey, I have been trying to find out if the National Infrastructure Bank got slipped in. I have sent questions to Dodd’s office and no answer.

    Any suggestions on how to get an answer on this? I think it is in there.

  2. wavpeac says:

    As a Nebraskan who just lost her job. (yes my agency laid of all it’s counseling dept to shore up for acute care crises Domestic violence and sexual assault help by unlicensed folks and contracted therapists who don’t get health care or retirement plans). Oh the JOY. Part of why my agency was short on funds (there were many contributing factors) was because the city of Omaha used to include 100,000 a year grant to my agency to provide DV and SA training and education to cops, schools, and our crises line. Well, the city decided to build a new baseball stadium for the college world series, and cut human service programs out of the budget. Almost all our mental health facilities folded. We are ranked 49th in our foster care system, and we are ranked 49th in mental health care.

    Nebraska the good life. Full of billionaires…huge, huge houses because housing is cheap here. Gated neighbor hoods all over the place. Almost completely segregated. And Ben Nelson. Not a democrat.

    I have written, called, faxed and all I get from him are form letters. I must say that I used to get calls from Hagle.

    Sick…head in hands sick of this stuff. And yes!! I still have my damn predator lender! Yah, life is fun in Nebraska.

    I am venting…we will be fine, their is no shortage of crazy people needing help in nebraska, but the program that we developed to really help folks with long term complex PTSD, vets, women, men who were violent…is dead. It worked. We helped couples, we stopped violent behavior, we stopped suicidal and self harming behavior. We provided outcomes and research our program. We were a special team and the city is going to miss us. (we often had a year long waiting list for therapy). Our agency never figured out how to have a billing dept, so we basically were giving our therapy away.

    Anyway…Nelson is a republican but unfortunately most Nebraskans like that.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      At some point, consider running for office. Enough said.

      Per Isakson:
      I have quite a few years involvement with realtors and home builders.
      In my experience, very few of them are able to read, comprehend, synthesize, and then apply complex information.
      They base their decisions on the information they get from schmoozing: their decisions are driven by personal interactions.
      Their thinking is ‘transactional’: this deal, this amendment, this budget item, this phone call, this meeting.
      Think of it as governance by ADHD thinking.

      They don’t understand why outlawing CDO’s would instantly address the toxic bank assets (but perhaps start trade wars with China). Because they’re so focused on doing this deal, this amendment, this budget item that they don’t step back to see the bigger picture of how Wall Street regulations were weakened by the GOP Senate, or how CDOs underlie a lot of the messes in finance.

      They are nice people, who like to kibbitz, and who like to run for office because they’re extroverts who like to schmooze. And once in office, they get a regular paycheck + medical: two luxuries they are not used to having. So they can get very comfy on a government paycheck, while they pontificate about the ills of government, and couldn’t comprehend the science in a report from EPA if you nailed their asses to a chair for one week solid.

      The realtor mindset is very, very ‘transactional’: this deal, this commission, this tax bill, this amendment, this specific fact.
      Realtors, in my experience, have a very hard time thinking in terms of ‘relational, long-term’ structures.

      So in terms of the information in the policy process, we have the personal experiences of a guy who sells houses in Georgia trumping years of Carl Levin, Chris Dodd, and Durbin’s expertise.

      That’s a travesty.

      • stratocruiser says:

        Very often, the people who run for office are the ones who shouldn’t, because the skills to get elected have nothing to do with the skills needed for effective governance.
        The ones who won’t run and put up with all the BS involved are the ones who would be able to craft effective long term policy.
        Considering how often we complain of how the corporations are run focusing on the next quarter, we are governed by representatives looking at the next midterm elections.
        Quite a conundrum.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          The ones who won’t run and put up with all the BS involved are the ones who would be able to craft effective long term policy.

          Yup.
          Consider that Isakson is probably a good schmoozer. So he’s probably able to raise $$ for campaigns on which the finance regs and oversight are about as useful as a hair net would be in containing an elephant.

          Meanwhile, the local water treatment administrator, who actually understands bugets, long-term projects, and basic chemistry wouldn’t stand a chance. And really, why would he deal with the smears to his/her reputation? And have to raise $$ from strangers into the bargain?

          We have a system out of alignment.

      • Adie says:

        I wuz doin’ o.k. with yer screed until ya blamed “ADHD thinking” willy nilly for assorted ills without facts at yer command. Please to pick a different arrow out of your quiver, sire, for you completely missed the target. I should know. Do not question me. I am legion. WE TOO are miffed by nincompoops of numerous stripes, and we are not amused in the slightest by careless pot-shots based on errant assumptions. Got it??! *harumph*

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          You gotta be kiddin’ me.
          Have you not read some of the stuff about ADHD and certain kinds of entreprenurial success?
          I happen to know that 3 ADHD realtors that I’ve worked with can’t read a novel to save their souls, but they each made over half a million dollars consecutive years in the late 90s.

          ADHD, like a whole lot of things, is a neutral term. It’s not a slam.
          ‘Anal’ is great if it describes the attention my dental hygenist brings to cleaning teeth.

          Nothing bad about ADHD. It can be a huge advantage for certain kinds of people in certain kinds of work.
          Those 3 realtors are phenomenally productive at selling properties. They’re really, really good at it. But when they’re asked to spend 3 hours reading documents that require a basic background in chemistry or biology — not their interest, not their skill set.

          Sorry if my phrasing sounded like a slam.
          Wasn’t meant to be.

          I meant that certain people are great at certain things.
          Those 3 realtors might even be great at RUNNIG for office.
          But the tasks involved in running for office are not the same skills required to be good at the job.

          We need to align the campaigning regs and requirements with the actual tasks required for success. That doesn’t mean no realtor should run for office. But it does mean that realtors who are really well-suited for it should run, whereas some I know should keep selling properties — because that’s what they’re good at, and the more they do it, the better they get.

          • Adie says:

            the tasks involved in running for office are not the same skills required to be good at the job.

            Indeed, very true, and often quite problematic.

            • stratocruiser says:

              One notion that i’ve had for some time, quite heretical, is to test our candidates.
              Students take monstrous numbers of tests. Any NFL potential fifth round draft choice has to take a battery of Psych tests. To get into the teacher alternative certification program has required two tests so far.
              Wouldn’t it have been fun if Gore has released his SAT scores and challenged Bush to follow suit.
              More information for voters, better decisions from voters.

              • stratocruiser says:

                I’m sure that the American Psychologist Union could determine what characteristics make for quality legislators, then design, administer and publish unbiased results.
                It would help atone for their sins in the Bush torture program.

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  Actually, a political scientist named James David Barber started that process back in the 1970s and turned up some very interesting stuff. What I recollect (read it years ago) is that in any legislative body, about 1/4 of the people do about 3/4 of the work (or more).

                  IIRC, it was tied to their reasons for entering government office. People really, really motivated and able to work well with others (i.e, “What You Learned In Kindergarten”) did very well. Others became cynical, abrasive, burned out and found the system futile.

                  Since Barber’s work, there’s been additional research on types of thinking/IQ.
                  That’s where things get a lot more interesting.
                  That’s where it’s possible that Isakson could be effective, but a lot rests on whether others in his group view him as an ‘expert’. From the outside looking on, he does not appear to be saying things that anyone who’s done about 10 hours of background research on CDOs and CDSs would say.

                  Because most of the information about CDOs and CDSs is transmitted in writing, or one-on-one, the people who are ‘good readers’ will learn about it from resources like the NYT or other ‘reporting’. The people who are not good readers will rely on first-person explanations. Those may — or may not — provide equivalent info.

                  IQ appears to be only one factor related to success.
                  For a far better explanation than I can provide, if you’re interested you may want to check out Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book.

                  Adie, I have background and a particular interest in reading, reading comprehension, and adult illiteracy. Hence, I’ve come to have some solid info about ADHD as it relates to how people learn, how they translate that to performing tasks, and how to design information to assist adult illiterates.

                  Because I’ve encountered people appointed to policy making bodies who have reading challenges, I bring a very specific lens to a lot of conversations at EWs, and I also have a very specific interest in how she analyzes and explains legal documents. Part personal; part professional.

                  And that’s only one of my several hats.
                  Sorry if my comments distressed you.

              • Adie says:

                I see good and bad possibilities there. Some absolute despots have been quite brilliant. What relevance would SAT questions have to ability to lead. Who should write the tests? How to keep bias from creeping into the composition of tests. Some absolute geniuses are almost pathologically shy and withdrawn from society. etc., etc., etc.

                I guess we’re stuck for the time being with an imperfect system.

                That doesn’t mean we can’t try to come up with ideas. eh? Maybe a start would be to pressure MSM to concentrate on substance and quality, instead of whether wearing sweaters in public is a positive or negative image. oy.

                apologies for rant at 55 & 57. I just hate it when people who obviously don’t know a banana from a sardine try to pigeon-hole others in re supposed “quality” and fitness for performance. Bah Humbug! *g*

                • Adie says:

                  Slightly related, amusing (now, at some distance) and revealing: one of our kids, when still in college and looking for a part-time job, was tested for a menial job at Sears and rejected. Apparently he had a few too many independent thoughts in his near-genius brain. Oh heavens. Can’t have any creative creatures roaming the aisles of a big-box store. There’s no telling what havoc might ensue! *g* Oh, and he’s ADHD, a voracious reader, an acknowledged and highly regarded, brilliant and creative presence in his current career in communications, a classical musician, composer……

                  hence a bit of a reason for my outlandish outbursts above.

  3. CasualObserver says:

    Krugman:

    Which raises the obvious question: shouldn’t Obama have made a much bigger plan, say $1.3 trillion, his opening gambit? If he had, he could have conceded to the centrists by cutting it to $1.2 trillion, and still have had a plan with a good chance of really controlling this slump. Instead he made preemptive concessions, only to find the centrists demanding another pound of flesh as proof of their centrist power.

    Obama might well say that he won the presidency by making preemptive concessions in his policies, thus giving his GOP opponents a smaller target to shoot at. This might work in elections (might)–but Obama may have made a critical mistake here, as Krugman suggests. If this thing turns out to be as bad as Galbraith and Krugman say it is, then we should look back at this senate performance and take some damn scalps.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      [From Krugman): Instead [Obama] made preemptive concessions, only to find the centrists demanding another pound of flesh as proof of their centrist power.

      I’m not for one instant calling Isakson a centrist, but I think this example underscores my point.
      A transactional thinker like Isakson probably is (’this deal, this amendment, this budget item) is going to take what Obama gives him without stepping back to think about where it might fit in the wider world.

      Isakson’s almost certainly not evil.
      He may be very good at doing specific deals on specific properties.
      But he’s got no damn business making huge decisions that require a completely different set of cognitive (and emotional) resources.

      Isakson’s in way over his head, and he’s a personification of what’s wrong with the GOP and why they’re leading us off a cliff. They’re not evil; they’re only doing what they know.

      And what they know is what their buddies told ‘em.

      The Dems have to face these well-meaning, passionate, ill-informed idiots down and completely undercut them, while exposing their utterly bogus notions. IMHO, we are at a very dangerous moment, and the GOP really doesn’t mean to be evil. They just are this tragically stupid and in far over their heads.

  4. JohnAnderson says:

    I remember telling a friend that I didn’t think Obama would get more than two votes in the House; and that he could just forget about singing Kumbayah with those jokers. I also said that I thought it would come down to four Republicans in the Senate, and I thought he had a good chance of getting all four–Specter, Collins, Snowe and Voinovich–because it was in their interests to vote with him.

    There are no “moderate” Republicans left in the House. Tom DeLay and the past two elections saw to that. Oh, maybe one or two, but even they follow in lockstep with the bosses on the big ones.

    Well, in the end, Obama got exactly zero votes in the House and it looks like he’ll get the three he needs in the Senate.

    There was never any point in giving away the store to the likes of Grassley and Isakson, who were never going to vote for the bill in any shape or form.

    These people–the entire Republican House and all but three or four Republicans in the Senate–mean nothing but trouble for Obama. The sooner that sinks in, the better.

    In the end, in a year, or certainly in two years, if this thing–call it what you like, Recession, Near-Depression, Depression–isn’t turned around or well on the road to being turned around, no one is going to remember Obama’s failed attemps at “bipartisanship.” No one.

  5. MrWhy says:

    Do you want this stimulus bill to fund the Mob Museum in Nevada? Find general wording that allows funding for projects such as the Roger Williams Park Zoo but won’t fund the Mob Museum.

    The Homebuyer Tax Credit is good news for real estate agents and homebuyers. That’s it.

    The Alternative Minimum Tax is not an effective stimulus. Shouldn’t be in this bill.

    My question: what does Susan Collins want? What did Susan Collins get?

  6. JohnAnderson says:

    MrWhy asks a good question, especially since Collins has six to go on her term.

    You could ask the same for Arlen and Snowe, though in Specter’s case don’t forget that he’s up for re-election in ‘10.

  7. JohnnyTable70 says:

    Wouldn’t the unintended consequence of this bill mean that it will actually increase (artificially) the sale price of homes, making it MORE expensive for homebuyers. If you ask me, this will simply pad the cost of home sales by $15K with you and I being stuck with another bill from the LEMON SOCIALISTS in the GOP

    • prostratedragon says:

      That really is the point. There are people out there who will give all sorts of cozy-sounding justifications for it, too: the whole problem with the economy is that house prices are too low. Admittedly, some like at the link have less crude-sounding remedies than to hand out cash. But there’s your logic.

  8. wavpeac says:

    Well and it will also means more loans to these crazy financial institutions. I have been trying to figure out what the constant ads by gmac for loans under the guise of newly formed loan companies means. I think they plan on continuing the same fraudulent behaviors.

    Real estate and criminal banks.

    Nice.

  9. masaccio says:

    So here’s a moral dilemma. I think this is bad policy, but it will be really good for my kids. Now what?

    • CatStaff says:

      I’ve got the same moral dilemma, masaccio. My son and his wife are buying a new house (against all our pleas to hold off and wait to see how things shake out in the next year or so). So they’ll get this credit, which is good for them, I guess, but crap policy overall. Never mind the fact that my son works at a school in the DC metro area, so who knows what cuts will come down in the future. His wife works for a defense contractor, so I suppose her job is safe, but I know for a fact that they won’t be able to live on her salary alone.

      Sheesh, I’m getting too old for this stuff.

      • masaccio says:

        The NYT has a special section on the tax changes here. This article talks about the changes with respect to real estate, which apparently are broader than we thought. Here’s the discussion of the home purchase credit, probably from the house bill because it is set at $7500:

        The new first-time homebuyer credit can reduce a couple’s taxes for 2008 or 2009 by up to $7,500, or a single filer’s by up to $3,750. Actually, the name is a bit of a misnomer. A “first-time homebuyer” is a person or couple who had no ownership interest in a principal residence in the United States during the three years ended on the purchase date of the residence for which the credit is claimed. Thus, someone who formerly owned a home, then rented for several years, could qualify. The purchase must be on or after April 9, 2008, and before July 1, 2009.

        Homebuyers who qualify are allowed a one-time credit of 10 percent of the purchase price, up to the $7,500 or $3,750 limit, against their income tax for the year of purchase. Although it is termed a refundable tax credit in a 2008 law, it is essentially an interest-free loan that must be repaid in equal amounts over 15 years, starting the year after the credit is claimed. The credit is available to joint filers with modified adjusted gross income below $150,000; it phases out once income exceeds $170,000. For single filers, the numbers are $75,000 and $95,000.

        “I think it’s a good deal,” said Barbara Weltman, a tax lawyer in Millwood, N.Y., who is also a contributing editor of “J. K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax 2009,” (Wiley, $18.95). “My daughter bought a home in October,” she said, and will benefit from the credit. And one proposal for tax legislation now being discussed in Congress is to eliminate the repayment requirement, making it an even better deal.

        See, CatStaff, it’s OK to favor deals that help family.

        • CatStaff says:

          Looks like they’ll qualify for sure. This is their first house (they just got married in August) and they’re supposed to close some time in mid-March.

          The thing that keeps me up nights is the thought of one of them losing their job. They’ll go under without a trace. But nobody listens to old Mom.

  10. wavpeac says:

    The longer it sits it seems the worse it gets. Perhaps we just need to pass it and fix it later. Although Arianna Huffington has a good point when she says that A jump halfway across the chasm is still jumping into the abyss.

    She’s got a point!

    Thanks Ew…we will be fine…but it is very hard to work in social services in the state of nebraska…so much to do and so little to do it with!

  11. LindaR says:

    The only thing that will “support” house prices is ordinary Americans’ ability to buy houses.

    Everything else is smoke and mirrors. Every other stratagem is bubble-blowing.

    The only thing that will restore this economy to health is the revitalization of the wage base.

    You can’t ship all the jobs to other markets and retain the buying power of this market.

    It’s math.

  12. LindaR says:

    House prices are too high.

    Or

    Wages are too low.

    A stable housing market happens when the house prices are in harmony with the wage base. If we want high house prices, we have to have high wages. If we want low wages, we have to have low house prices.

    It’s math.

  13. Loo Hoo. says:

    Even with a $15 K tax break, where are folks going to get a loan for a new home? See only people with down payment money sitting in the bank will benefit from this. You’re right, this is another benefit for the wealthy.

    And the real pisser is that Isakson won’t vote for it anyway.

    Pelosi said that she doesn’t mind being put under the bus by Obama, but that it pisses her off that he keeps backing up and driving over her again and again.

  14. DavisXMachina says:

    My question: what does Susan Collins want? What did Susan Collins get?

    Everyone looking at her. She’s actually about fourteen years old.

  15. solai says:

    Well done, Marcy. I especially like that the dems caved on these amendments for no reason whatsoever. Battered wife syndrome, I suspect.

  16. Adie says:

    Thanks Marcy for another good one!

    Truth in lending: if this stinking pile of an excuse for a bill helps sell our house, I am truly conflicted. Forgive me for I am weak-kneed over our prospects for getting through the next year and more if we can’t get out of here. Eek! It’s stupid to sit here, NOT in debt, and yet scared silly over what the future holds, and with our hard-working “kids” just barely hanging on by their fingernails.

    It was the same when we entered the workforce years ago. Our timing gives new meaning to the term, “lousy”. *blergh*

  17. rwcole says:

    I have a real estate license and my regard for the ethics and motivation of my brethren is quite low. It is, however, not correct as far as I can see to blame the current mess on Realtors. It would be more correct to blame govt. and financial institutions who kept feeding the bubble- and the gullible public who continued to act as if the housing market was going to have continuous 20% increases for the rest of their lives.

    People get conned because they WANT to believe in something for nothing.

  18. rwcole says:

    People are actually buying houses like crazy in our part of the planet- the problem is that they are mostly buying bank owned property at highly distressed prices- driving prices further down. Cut the flood of bank owned property in half and we might have a decent market. What is happening is that those who are upside down are bailing- their homes are being re-sold at bargain basement prices- and the resulting lower prices put even MORE people into upside down positions. It isn’t clear when this situation will ease- but I suspect that we should see a leveling off by the end of the year (at least in southern cal.)

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      What are the upside-down people buying the houses with? Not equity from the upside-down house. And if they’ve got the money, isn’t their credit ruined if they foreclose?

      • rwcole says:

        Well the upside down people aren’t buying- they’re walking- and the buyers seem to be mostly small scale investors….

        You know the area here- there are FANTASTIC opportunities in Escondido for example. Beautiful old homes in the historic area near downtown sold a few years ago for $400,000 and are now listed for $130K or so. They need a little fixing up- but most have good bones. I bought one last year (which has declined in value further since I bought it) and am making an offer on another. It’s one of the few times that I’ve seen potential rental properties that pencil out with a bit of positive cash flow before taxes.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          You’re clearly in the “big picture thinker” elite of realtors, given what I’ve read in your comments. And for anyone with the resources to invest right now (including banks), there are what an acquaintance who holds a lot of commercial property calls ‘excellent opportunities’.

          But I hope that you recognize this as no slam against you in the least — if I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned that I treat good real estate agents as well as I can. They’re worth their weight in gold. And very, very rare.

          • rwcole says:

            It’s always hard for most people to adjust to buying on the decline and selling on the rise- but that’s where the money is.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Yeah, I think many of us have a problem with that counter-intuitive notion.

              It takes big-picture, longer term thinking of the sort that I just don’t see in the information that I’ve encountered about Isakson; he comes across like Mr. Conventional Wisdom.

              • Adie says:

                that’s odd. piece a cake for some of us…. dare a presumed weakness yet be a secret strength? oh the horror!

      • wavpeac says:

        That’s just it, between medical bills, (from the high deductible insurance plans) and unemployment, and bad loans and credit card debt…few american have credit. The only ones buying homes (and this is what scares me) are the “wheelers and dealers” save a few family who actually are moving up in all this stuff. But one lost job and the home buyer if fed to the sharks in this economy until these fraudulent banking behaviors are stopped. And they lobbied real hard to make sure that they can’t be stopped.

        Keeping people in their homes, restructuring these loans would give people money to build equity so that in a few years the market would recovery. This will just keep things in a down ward spiral and keep folks over the barrel.

        I talked to my lawyer about my lawsuit against GMAC Homecomings Financial. He said that nothing, absolutely nothing has changed that would benefit me, and he sees nothing in sight that will. We are going to sue for my payment history but the big question is, will there be money for the lawyer when it’s done? will they simply stick me fees and the judge unable to remedy those? or is it possible they can’t come up with my paperwork? I am praying they don’t have my paper work although they have never been bought out. It’s just that my lawyer has twice asked for my payment history and they have failed to respond which is a RESPA violation.

        We’ll see but I am very disappointed in this “stimulus” package that once again..no different that bush years does very little to fix the foundational problems.

  19. wavpeac says:

    Well, I don’t know I had a totally shady broker who was given me by my real estate agent. I didn’t get something for nothing and I got a bad 30 year fixed loan. Bad in that they keep violating the respa and tila laws that were meant to protect me and many others.

    I will repeat and rinse here. Until the story of absolute lawbreaking and fraud comes out…feeding the monster will only feed the problem. Real estate and flipping schemes are tied in with the financial markets. It’s not accident that the big class action lawsuits included brokers, real estate agents AND banks. It’s the tip of the ice berg and my apologies to all the honest agents out there. But there has been a lot of law breaking going on.

  20. Hugh says:

    On This Week per the NYT, Summers said that Geithner would unveil his bullshit bank bailout plan on Tuesday, not Monday, so as not to clash with the vote on the bullshit Senate stimulus bill.

    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes…..uesday/?hp

    Bad stimulus + No bank nationalization = Depression in 18 months, latest.

  21. Adie says:

    Personal knowledge and experience from all perspectives trumps “know…3 ADHD realtors…,” hands down.

    One cannot possibly fit a whole range of characteristics into a neat little box.

    T’would be wise not even to try.

    This is not meant as a slam, but you, sir, are quite obviously only vaguely informed about a few simple aspects concerning a highly complex volume of subject matter.

    I suggest you tread lightly outside your own realm, for your own sake.

    good day sir.

    P. E. A. C. E.

  22. Adie says:

    Adie, I have background and a particular interest in reading, reading comprehension, and adult illiteracy. Hence, I’ve come to have some solid info about ADHD as it relates to how people learn, how they translate that to performing tasks, and how to design information to assist adult illiterates.

    Because I’ve encountered people appointed to policy making bodies who have reading challenges, I bring a very specific lens to a lot of conversations at EWs, and I also have a very specific interest in how she analyzes and explains legal documents. Part personal; part professional.

    And that’s only one of my several hats.
    Sorry if my comments distressed you.

    Thanks for checking back. I realize you have some considerable background, as do I, in what at times has been called ADHD, and the study of which has developed much over the years. It is a truly mixed bag of traits which cannot easily be summed up in so few words, much less a simple acronym. Some aspects of this complex of syndromes can even afford a person unique skills of observation and analysis, and reading impairment is definitely NOT always an allied trait – far from it.

    The field of education has advanced over the years to the point that ADHD is not only outmoded, but grossly inaccurate both as a term and a concept in many cases. It is thus neither wise nor accurate to lump all in the same bin. That is what I objected to. I would be remiss if your quick reference to ADHD did NOT alert me to speak up in hopes of encouraging further study.

    Thank you for being willing to engage in dialogue. That is a start.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      No worries.
      When I comment here, I figure maybe 5 people might read it, and most probably aren’t all that interested in my minutia.

      The field of education has advanced over the years to the point that ADHD is not only outmoded, but grossly inaccurate both as a term and a concept in many cases. It is thus neither wise nor accurate to lump all in the same bin. That is what I objected to

      Here’s what I’m seeing, summarized: the people who study cognition have remarkable new tools. They are discovering remarkable things. But they are seldom policy makers (again, people who slog through a PhD and enter research fields in many respects don’t have the time in their lives to run for office).

      ADHD now appears to be a term that is being applied to a huge range of behaviors and thought processes.

      Having ADHD is **not** related to problems learning to read. That would be mixing apples and oranges!

      However, there are people who have reading challenges WHO ALSO have ADHD. (In the case of two of those realtors, their ADHD was diagnosed in adulthood when their kids were having a lot of trouble in first grade, which led to getting parents involved, which in a round about way led to adults being diagnosed – backward, so to speak, with ADHD.)

      Again, there are lots of types of ADHD.
      Some involve ‘hyperfocus’, and people with that may be superb readers.

      The people that I was working with found ways to use their strengths. In two cases, they know their limitations and rely on terrific assistants to do legwork and follow-up, but ride around with them in 4-hour periods and they are constantly interacting on the phone, behind the wheel, with other agents… they don’t like to sit still and they have figured out how to be very financially successful.

      They’re great people. They build on their strengths. But because of their success in real estate, local electeds ask their advice on a range of topics far beyond their expertise. And they rely on their personal interactions to give advice, rather than doing the slogging work of really figuring things out — they’re not stupid, and they’re great at discovering what they need to know. But presenting it to these particular people in written form does not work; they can’t manage it.

      Perhaps because I spent so much time with some of these folks, my view of realtors is skewed, but I’ve also been to some of their conferences and spotted the same information patterns.

      At any rate, we’ve highjacked this thread enough, so I need to apologize to EW and bmaz, and sign off on this topic.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Adie, can’t write any more off topic on this thread, but here’s a link that may interest you.

        I hope masaccio sees it!
        http://crooksandliars.com/susi…..ainers-sen
        Wanted: Personal Economic Trainers for the Senate

        This topic has been a theme on some of these threads, and it’s an idea whose time has come. Nice to see it getting more emphasis, because these issues are so complex that Senators can’t be expected to master it all, and clearly Senate staffs aren’t keeping up.

  23. Adie says:

    and so it goes…

    maybe we’ll talk again.

    Apologies Marcy. Feel free to delete any of my comments that were not on topic enough to pass muster. thanks. You’re a heroine to me.

  24. 1boringoldman says:

    Besides looking like a walk-on from an old Star Trek episode or the last of the Mutant Ninja Turtles, Johnny Isakson happens to be one of my Senators – at least until 2010. He ran on platitudes, [family values, and whichever other ones were in vogue in 2004]. Frankly, I’m surprised that he introduced an amendment, that he even knows how to do that [he must’ve gotten help from some Lobbyists]. Johnny Isakson has voted with a majority of his Republican colleagues 94.1% of the time. When I get the emails wanting me to call or write my Congressmen, I get to choose between Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss. Senator Chambliss is the Conservative one [though he doesn’t look like a Turtle], voting with a majority of his Republican colleagues 97.7% of the time. But Isakson isn’t my most Liberal Congressman. It’s my Representative Nathan Deal, who only votes with his Republican friends 93.9% of the time. I’m not feeling very good about the effectiveness of my letters and emails, even though I send them plenty. They never write me back. I wonder what I’m doing wrong…

  25. prostratedragon says:

    CR alerts us to a Kash Mansori guest blog at Econbrowser, in which he argues that the silly tax credit probably won’t (even) raise house prices much:

    If my hunch is correct, then all the house purchase tax credit will do is to modestly increase the number of houses sold each month… with no noticeable impact on house prices.

    That doesn’t mean that the tax credit would have no impact. In particular, it may be a boon to some cash-constrained households that want to buy a house right now but can’t borrow enough. And it should help to reduce inventories of unsold houses by a bit. But if you’re hoping that it will make house prices rise, with all of the beneficial economic effects on home equity that such a rise might have… think again.

    That reminded me of the strategy used by Jonathan (Jack Nicholson, with the special assistance of the great Rita Moreno) to avoid his mark to market moment:

    Carnal Knowledge, finale.

  26. brantl says:

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think that the real estate people actually got us into this. The people that did the most to get us into this (I think) were these: the people that came up with the liars’ loans, the interest only loans and the Assholes that came up with/created/promoted the CDO and CDS vehicles that have been driven off the cliff.

    Did realtors continue to sell properties for higher and higher prices? Sure. Given their particular role in the economy, why wouldn’t/shouldn’t they do this, when no overall control was exercised by the government? Find me any kind of merchant who won’t gradually price up his merchandise, if there isn’t an artificial restraint? Some kind of saint, I guess.

    Let’s stay credible here, people. This isn’t it? There should have been market constraints to stop an inexorable upward spiral in real estate prices. That doesn’t make it the realtors fault. They represent, and are paid by, the seller, they’re supposed to get the best price they can.

    • bmaz says:

      We don’t always agree, and that is okay, but we sure do here. People and families will take advantage of things that were being pushed hard, and they did. Not really a shock.

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