Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Columbus House Delegation and Predatory Lenders

There's been some buzz about a couple of recent bits of output from Policy Matters. Well, more than a couple, they've had a tremendous flurry of visibility in the last six weeks, but I'm focusing on just two: Testimony before Congress on Payday Lending, and a report on the Foreclosure Crisis in Ohio. There's not much I'm going to say about these subjects that hasn't been said better elsewhere, but I tried to leave a comment at Plunderbund the other day that failed to actually post and I've decided to follow up here.

First - I've got plenty of bleeding-heart morality-based reasons to oppose predatory lending, and Modernesquire did a pretty good job of laying out the broader economic implications of the foreclosure crisis, but I keep coming back to the "innocent" victims of the neighborhood-level collapses. Even the people who can afford to pay their mortgages and taxes and handle their money responsibly lose tens of thousands of dollars as their property values disintegrate and they are left holding negative equity in their homes. If I were in that situation, I'd be livid.

Eric said we need a sherriff to clean up the Wild West of predatory mortgage lending, especially by the home builders who act as both seller and financer. The biggest part of my reply was about Central Ohio's Congressional Delegation. publishes the top recipients of industry campaign contributions for all major industries. Here is the list of the top 10 U.S. House recipients of homebuilder money last cycle:

  1. Pryce, Deborah (R-OH)
  2. Pallone, Frank Jr (D-NJ)
  3. Pombo, Richard (R-CA)
  4. Kirk, Mark (R-IL)
  5. Shaw, E Clay Jr (R-FL)
  6. Bonilla, Henry (R-TX)
  7. Feeney, Tom (R-FL)
  8. Davis, Geoff (R-KY)
  9. Fitzpatrick, Michael G (R-PA)
  10. Tiberi, Patrick J (R-OH)
Of the 14 Political Action Committees that have the word "Mortgage" in their names and made contributions to at least one congressional candidate in 2006, 9 of them contributed money to Tiberi, Pryce, and/or Bob Ney. That's 64%.

Here are the top 10 U.S. House recipients of Finance/Credit companies in 2006:

  1. Pryce, Deborah (R-OH)
  2. Baker, Richard (R-LA)
  3. Boehner, John (R-OH)
  4. Kanjorski, Paul E (D-PA)
  5. Crowley, Joseph (D-NY)
  6. Castle, Michael N (R-DE)
  7. Bachus, Spencer (R-AL)
  8. Tiberi, Patrick J (R-OH)
  9. Matheson, Jim (D-UT)
  10. Hensarling, Jeb (R-TX)

The top 6 companies contributing to Tiberi in the 2006 cycle were:

1 Nationwide $23,600
2 American Electric Power $21,750
3 Altair Learning Management $21,500
4 Vorys, Sater et al $17,750
5 Buckeye Check Cashing $16,000
6 CheckSmart $14,000

Of course, CheckSmart and Buckeye Check Cashing represent the same set of executives, so really the combination of 5/6 is the single largest contributor ($30k last cycle) to Mr. Tiberi:

Tiberi, Patrick J

Tiberi, Patrick J

Tiberi, Patrick J

Tiberi, Patrick J

Tiberi, Patrick J

Tiberi, Patrick J

Tiberi, Patrick J


Franklin County has the largest number of Payday lenders in the state. Delaware County is the focus of recent news articles highlighting the increase in foreclosures. What are our congressional reps doing about it? They are taking dollar after dollar after dollar from the people responsible.

Monday, March 26, 2007

More Tiberi Watch

Pat continues to release obnoxious "news entries" on his congressional website. The two most recent deal with the budget process. Pat continues yelling for entitlement reform and spending cuts. Both of these things are easier said than done, as I'm sure Mr. Tiberi is aware of given 6 years of increased spending, one fiscally irresponsible Medicare overhaul, and one failed attempt at privatized Social Security that coincide with the time he has spent in office within the (one-party rule) federal government.

But what the hey, those issues are fair game, and we should be debating them. Of course, the intellectually insulting "reframing" of the estate tax and the expiration of W's tax cuts, the selective and misleading characterizations of changes in individual's tax obligations, etc., etc., aren't fair, but are expected. They are cheap talking points that do nothing to advance debate, but they have become ingrained in the Republican culture, and have been used in the past to great electoral success. So that's pure partisanship, and far be it from me to claim that there's no place for partisanship in the political process (of course, if one does say such a thing, one might want to be careful about using such boilerplate...). It doesn't stand out as spectacularly offensive or hypocritical. It does put me in a mood where the most positive tone I can muster is the one I'm currently using, but that's my problem.

What's not up on the site yet is news about the CARES Act. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has put out a presser that describes the legislation, and specifically mentions that it was introduced by a bi-partisan team of McCarthy (D-New York) and Pat.

I haven't read the legislation yet, so any opinion I have on the bill is tentative, but it sounds like a good idea. I am surprised that a Market Republican, with a passion for entitlement reform, would be out in front of a piece of legislation like this, not just because of the content and the particular issue, but because of the philosophy behind such a legislative action. So I wrote a note to the Honorable Patrick Tiberi. It looks like this:

Mr. Tiberi,

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has a press release stating that you are one of the two original sponsors of the CARES act, introduced today, mandating that health insurance companies cover reconstructive surgery for children who are born with (or develop) structural abnormalities). This is a very interesting piece of legislation, and based on the description, I would applaud you for introducing the bill.

I was, however, hoping that you could answer a few questions about the issue for me-

1) How extensive is Medicaid's current coverage of reconstructive surgery for children?

2) Given that this sounds a lot like mental health parity bills, like the one that recently passed here in Ohio, is Congress considering a federal mental health parity bill?

3) Do you support a specific mechanism that would allow currently uninsured children to have access to reconstructive surgery?

I understand that this is a very busy time for you, and I appreciate any response that you are able to make,



You don't have to be a congressman to comment on my letter, and I'll let you know if I hear anything back.

On Tour

Posting is likely to remain light for another week or so, but hopefully not to the extent of a 7 day silence like the one that just occurred. I've been in the midst of literally thousands of miles of in-state travel for work. I've been to Lima, Bellefontaine, Hamilton, Sandusky, Chillicothe, Lancaster, Waverly, Gallipolis, Canton, Youngstown, and Cambridge, and I've got upcoming trips to Dayton and Findlay, and it doesn't actually stop then.

By the time I get caught up with office stuff and plow through my reader, I've got no time left to comment. In this spare moment right now, I'll try a lightning round:

The search for Bexley's new City Councilmember is fully underway, and one of the things I love about on-line versions of newspapers is that they can do things like post all of the applicants' resumes online. I know very little about most of these folks, but in between Google and the posted info, I'd have to say Jed Morison is certainly a strong candidate.

A long, long time ago I fronted a band. "Fronted" seems to give me a bigger status than I truly merited, but words like "sang" and "vocals" grant me more musicianship than I truly merited, so it'll have to do. The real musicians switched off between bass and guitar, and included the person I've most frequently attached the label "best friend" to. We're not in touch as much these days, but I do know that his current band Humphry Clinker is getting positive press in the PD and the Free Times, and has upcoming shows in Cleveland (Agora and HOB) and Parma. You NEO folks should check them out.

My "lightning" reflexes have gotten slow these days, so I have to wrap up. I'm watching the budget, basketball, Jill vs. White Hat, and I expect I'll be tracking the fallout from the latest output from the NICHD's longitudinal child-care study.