Why Does Senator Ensign Hate Foreclosed Homeowners … and Veterans … and Seniors … and Telecoms?

I’ve got a call into John Ensign’s Communications Director for confirmation now, but it sounds like John Ensign is the one Senator referenced in Harry Reid’s statement last night and Dodd’s statement a few minutes ago on the Senate floor. That is, because John Ensign has refused to a unanimous consent agreement on the housing bill, he is holding up everything the Senate is doing right now.

That means Ensign is preventing the thousands of Nevadans facing foreclosure–Nevada’s foreclosure rate rivals even Michigan’s–from the relief that the housing bill in the Senate will give them.

But because Reid has said the Senate has to get housing done before it gets anything else done, it means Ensign is also standing between a bunch of veterans and the expanded GI bill included in the supplemental bill. And a bunch of people who’ve been looking for jobs hoping to get an extension on their unemployment benefits. And doctors hoping to be compensated fairly, in a new Medicare bill, for treating our nation’s seniors.

Of course, it’s not all bad. We FISA bloggers owe Ensign a debt of gratitude, it looks like. Because he’s blocking unanimous consent on housing, we may be able to push out FISA beyond the July 4 break. So thank you, John Ensign, for standing in the way of the shredding of the Constitution.

If you’re a Nevada resident, you might want to call Ensign at (202) 224-6244 and ask him why he’s preventing Nevada homeowners from getting some alternatives to losing their house.

But if you’re not a Nevada resident, you might want to call Ensign and thank him for standing up to the evil telecoms who illegally spied on American citizens.

Update: Corrected Medicare language per cboldt.

44 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Hey, this is good news for FISA…

    BTW, Christy has me all curious with your joint plan you are unveiling soon…

    • emptywheel says:

      It’s not far off your “I want immunity too” idea–but with a nice flair, from Christy. I think she’s just doing the work too to make sure we’ll get the time to do it right.

      • klynn says:

        If artwork/graphic is needed…let me know, I’d step up. Happen to be an illustrator on the side…

          • klynn says:

            Hey I might. Let me check on that. The guy who does the largest print contracts for the political campaigns is right here in Columbus.

            I’ll check on him now. Used him for a national conference a few years ago.

  2. cboldt says:

    And seniors waiting on a new Medicare bill.

    The Medicare issue is “for the doctors.” The payments to the doctors will be reduced, if the Medicare bill (not yet on the Senate calendar, will be tomorrow) isn’t passed before July 1, I think is the date.

    Benefits to seniors are unchanged, and failure to pass the bill on time will generally just result in a big paperwork mess as Congress will later pass a fee schedule with retroactive effect.

  3. Leen says:

    Glenn’s article on Dodd’s efforts.

    “(a) I was on with Rachel Maddow last Friday discussing the House’s FISA bill and that interview can be heard here. I was on AntiWar Radio on Monday discussing the surveillance aspects of the FISA bill and the new coalition that has formed and that can be heard here. Today at 2:10 p.m. EST, I’ll be on To the Point with Warren Olney as part of a panel discussion regarding the Obama campaign — both in terms of FISA and more generally. Live audio and local listings are here.”

  4. DefendOurConstitution says:

    Ironic that both spineless senators at the center of this “storm” are from Nevada.

  5. drational says:

    “But if you’re not a Nevada resident, you might want to call Ensign and thank him for standing up to the evil telecoms who illegally spied on American citizens.”

    Too Funny.

    But also telling about what wrangling must be going on.
    Why no Feingold or Dodd witholding unanimous consent?

    • cboldt says:

      Why no Feingold or Dodd witholding unanimous consent?

      So far, one or the other has. That’s why there is no UC agreement to proceed to FISA at a “time certain” (e.g., as soon as we’re done with Housing, we go to FISA”)

      So, to get over the objection, Reid had to file cloture, and will have to get 60 or more Senators to agree to limit debate before actually voting on the motion to proceed.

  6. Glorfindel says:

    So a Republican Senator can hold up a bill he doesn’t like. Alone. All by his lonesome. How interesting.

    Too bad, really, that a Democratic Senator cannot hold up a bill he doesn’t like. Alone. All by his lonesome.

    What’s up with that?

  7. Leen says:

    Watching Dodd lay it out last night.
    “we have even heard on this floor the comparison between the telecom corporations to the men and women laying their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ignore the comparison, because frankly I find this deeply offensive”

    I would imagine that the men and women who have and are putting their lives on the line for a “pack of lies”, would also find this comparison “deeply offensive”

  8. Leen says:

    Just called Senator Sherrod Brown’s office (again) about retroactive immunity. When I asked the young lady who answered the phone where Senator Sherrod Brown is standing on this issue at this time she said ” that he has stood against retroactive immunity in the past, but he has not made up his mind on where he stands on this new legislation at this time”

    Call/email (oh) Senator Sherrod Brown. 202-224-2315

    Could not get through to (oh)(r) Senator Voinovich

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The occasional John Boehner-like tears notwithstanding, Sen. Voinovich slavishly votes for whatever Mr. Bush requests. Financial services, insurance and telecoms firms are among his largest corporate supporters. In his early seventies, he is up for election in the next cycle, in 2010. It should be his last.

      Sen. Brown is reliably, though not uniformly, progressive. With a little encouragement, he should stand with Sens Dodd and Feingold.

      • Leen says:

        Talked to an aid this morning. Brown has not made up his mind. Remembering Voinovich crying during the Bolton hearings (I have to say I was actually moved) and then he did not take a solid stance and vote NO NO NO on Bolton.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          If Sen. Brown has adopted the Steny Hoyer model of constituent communications, his denial that he’s made up his mind confirms he’s made it up. He just doesn’t want to tell anyone in advance what he intends to do, so that they can’t do anything about it before he votes.

  9. Blub says:

    well.. since I’m not a nevadan and don’t presently have a mortgage, I’m all in favor of looong debate on the housing bill. Sure… spend a few weeks on it, get it right… heck, use the opportunity to make it more progressive, more inclusive, better. And, in the meantime, let’s all use the extra time to cancel our Verizon contracts….

  10. danps says:

    Leen, I called & faxed both yesterday. Voinovich was easier to get to, believe it or not. Maybe no one expects him to show and independence.

  11. Blub says:

    OT, but funny. San Diego’s apparently still holding up Blackwater’s occupancy permit despite the Federal court order Blackwater obtained, which directed the city to let them move in … it seems the submarine simulator isn’t handicap acessible, along with 63 other nigling ‘lil details. Those lighting fixtures are soooo problematic, and one must always accommodate all of those wheel-chair-bound mercs. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and CA Aguirre and Mayor Sanders are prepared to jail for contempt over this.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As we bemoan the Democrats’ perversion of FISA and the growth of the Surveillance State, here’s something to keep in mind as you contemplate summer foreign travel or that Fire Pups get together in Detroit or Toronto

    US Customs claims the right to search and copy all digital records on hand held and portable electronic devices. Computers, cell phones, PDA’s, the lot. Applies to everybody, foreign and US citizens alike. The Ninth Circuit agrees with them, analogizing the “search” to opening a suitcase. Hence, it doesn’t require a warrant or probable cause.


    The analogy seems flawed, almost intentionally derisive. A glance or even dog sniff at the undies in your suitcase is hardly the same as copying, keeping and analyzing to their hearts content all the files on your computer, including everything you improperly deleted. The EFF sites listed have answers to frequently asked questions and suggestions for what you can do to protect your privacy.

  13. bell says:

    >>On September 27, 2007, the members of the Senate discovered that Senator Ensign had been using the “secret hold” power (the power of a lawmaker to anonymously block a bill from reaching a floor vote without stating rhyme or reason or identity) to obstruct bills slated to require senators to file fund-raising reports electronically, as House and presidential candidates long have done, rather than obscure their benefactors in paper intensive filings.

  14. Leen says:

    Tomorrow Senator Sherrod Brown will be having his weekly talk with constituents. Good time to ask where he stands on retroactive immunity

    Meet Senator Brown

    If you are an Ohio Constituent visiting Washington, DC you are invited to the weekly constituent coffee with me, Senator Brown. My staff and I hold these coffees in order to stay in touch with Ohioans and get feedback on how we are doing. Feel free to stop by.

    The next coffee will be held on June 26th in room 188 of the Russell Senate Office Building from 8:30 to 9:30.

    If you have any questions, please contact my Washington, DC office at 202-224-2315 or fill out the contact form here.



    • Leen says:

      Any Ohio constituents lurking here at FDL going to be in D.C. tomorrow? Prime opportunity with Senator Brown tomorrow morning.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Excellent suggestion. Ohio’s Sen. Brown may be among the Senate’s progressive members, but he is a freshman (’06) more easily swayed by ambition and the “whip” Reid can be expected to wield (even if surreptitiously) on this FISA legislation.

      As with others who might be leaning, let’s remind him that caving to his leadership and refusing to hear the voices of his voters is not a cost-free exercise.

  15. Leen says:


    What the major networks are not reporting, Watch this clip

    “2 minutes of coverage per network per week” 3 major networks coverage on Iraq

    We have had a year and a half of Elections elections elections on the major networks.

  16. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    FWIW, I happen to know a young couple with several kids in Nevada.
    They’re on the cusp of being foreclosed.
    The irony: he works for a subdivision developer.

    Now sidetrack to the mortgage biz:
    If you want to fleece people, think of their biggest payment. It’s rent or mortgage.
    So if you could figure out a way to get a good slice of the mortgage market, you’d be richer than Midas.
    And it doesn’t take much to make a ton of money, especially as home prices rise: even a 1/4 percent of a $350,000 home is a lot more money than a quarter point on an $80,000 home.
    And if you’re the bank/mortgage company, you get that money month in, month out. But you sell those loans to Wall Street, who sells them to… whoever.

    One realtor friend spotted a client about to sign a mortgage with Countrywide. Their interest rate was calculated using a credit rating for the couple that was less favorable than they should have received; the Countrywide calculation put them in a mortgage $1,000/month higher than they should have received.
    So Countrywide stood to make $12,000/year — free and clear — of one single couple.
    Multiply that over 100 families, then over 100,000 families and you start to see how fast the money adds up.

    Then realize that realtors in the US basically have zero requirements for entry. You pay a fee, you buy biz cards, and that’s about it in many places. So these are not necessarily ‘experts’ — and many of them don’t actually understand mortgages.
    (FWIW: about 20-30% of realtors sell 70 – 80% of the properties.
    Therefore, some realtors actually don’t understand the garbage they’re having people sign.

    Ditto some banks and mortgage jobs. There really are no ‘barriers’ to entry; you can show up sober on time, be pleasant, learn the job, and that’s enough to get anyone started — at least, according to my good realtor contacts.

    Shorter: huge opportunities to make tons of money in very ‘legal’ ways, combined with a workforce that may not really understand the implications of their jobs (anyone smart moves up pretty fast, as near as I can tell).

    Then add on the fact that the people who assess homes for the banks are in a tough spot — they need to justify the selling prices, and in many cases even if they personally feel the house isn’t worth $280,000, they’re in a tough spot. If they say, ‘the house is only worth $220,000′, they encounter:

    1. A pissed off realtor who is working strictly on commission — that commission is based on the sales price, so the higher the sales price the higher their income.

    2. A pissed off mortgage lender (who happens to be paying the assessor to come in with the approved-of price of $280,000 the seller has agreed to pay). Like the realtor, at least a portion of the mortgage lender’s income is a function of the sale price.

    3. Basically, you’ve created food chains based on sales price, and at every stage in that network all players are advantaged by rising prices.

    4. The Internet, which allows people outside the US to examine, bid on, and purchase properties inside the US, thereby squeezing the housing supply in specific regions and raising prices.

    Basically, there are a whole lot of factors driving higher home prices.
    With zero accountability for the safety of the community.

    Back in the 1960s and 1970s, local bankers had a personal, ‘real life’ investment in the health of their communities. This included ensuring that they did not lend to people who could not afford homes — because it was bad for personal relationships and bad for their communities. The old-timer bankers understood the linkages between home ownership, social stability, strong interpersonal relationships, and city budgets.

    Those relationships have been broken.
    Partly it’s a problem of scale.
    Partly it’s a problem of distance — removing money from local communities also meant that the kind of natural feedback systems that kept bankers from being reckless evaporated.

    This is a disaster for municipal governments, who need stable populations personally linked to the community, who can afford to pay taxes.

    The solutions will require components related to community design (sprawl drives global warming), and also reinforces keeping at least a portion of people’s mortgage money in their local communities, rather than sending it off to the assholes at Bear Stearns.

  17. MarkH says:

    If Bush & Ensign want to hold up legislation, then it behooves the House Dems to get their Gasoline Price Reduction Act passed and in the Senate queue behind Mortgage Foreclosure and FISA. If there’s enough stuff there that Congressional Repubs want and the public want, then the logjam can be broken.

    Bush (and any of his Congressional assistants) should not be allowed to stand in the way of significant progress.

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