2011: The Main Action Won’t Be in Congress

By Preeti Vissa

The punditocracy is anxiously war-gaming the expected battles between the Obama Administration and Congress. But while there will be plenty of strong rhetoric and political theatrics on Capitol Hill, much of the real action will occur elsewhere, in administrative and regulatory processes that typically occur offstage.

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Real Foreclosure Relief Can’t Wait

By Preeti Vissa

No less an expert than Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist and president-elect of the International Economic Association, has concluded that that there is a real answer to the foreclosure crisis: Principal reduction. Forcing banks to write down the principal of troubled loans is, as Stiglitz told the Sacramento Bee, the “best option for the country… For banks, it means coming to terms with reality, with the fact that they lent money on the basis of prices that were inflated by a bubble. It ends the fiction that they will get repaid the full amount lent.”

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The Greenlining Institute Responds to Peter Wood

Chronicle.com – Innovations

By Orson Aguilar, Executive Director, and Bruce Mirken, Media Relations Coordinator, of the Greenlining Institute

On Stanford University’s Web site, university President John Hennessy declares, “We believe that the richness of our backgrounds, cultures, talents, and interests has made Stanford University one of the world’s leading research and teaching institutions.”

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Don’t Blame Poor And Do See ‘Inside Job’

By Orson Aguilar

It has been fascinating to observe the reactions of anti-regulation zealots to the film “Inside Job.” Many — including Paul Sperry in his Nov. 18 column on this page, “10 Reasons You Should Not Waste Your Money On Film ‘Inside Job,'” — have resorted to constructing a sort of alternate economic history of the past 20 years.

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Hazards, Moral and Otherwise

By Preeti Vissa

I and other consumer advocates have been arguing for an effort to head off the coming new wave of foreclosures, primarily by writing down the principal of mortgages that were based on unrealistic, bubble-inflated home values. But we keep running into an argument against such a program that many seem to find persuasive: the idea of “moral hazard.”
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How Credit Scores Disproportionately Hurt Communities of Color

By Preeti Vissa

To most of us, credit scores are an obscure subject, something to think about only when we’re applying for a loan. But they’re deeply tied to the foreclosure crisis and the cloud of gloom surrounding the housing market and the economy generally. They have contributed to the disproportionate effect of the foreclosure crisis on minorities, and have the potential to create a vicious cycle that will pound communities of color even further.

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Health Insurance Rate Hikes Need Thorough Examination

L.A. Daily News
By Carla Saporta and Bruce Mirken

HERE they go again. Major health insurers are announcing another round of rate increases, and something doesn’t smell right. Ironically, this is happening just as a Virginia judge ruled that a provision of the national health insurance reform law – that should keep rates down – is unconstitutional, setting up a continuing court battle.

For many Californians, this is the second round of big rate increases this year. Higher rates will place a heavy burden on recession-weary families that are already struggling to make ends meet.

Some insurers are trying to pin blame on the Affordable Care Act, the federal health reform law that has begun to take effect, as well as a California reform that bans insurers from charging women more than men for health insurance. But the numbers don’t seem to add up.

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