One interesting thing to me about the present foreclosure crisis is the apparent inaction of our democratic bodies. In the past, crises like these have caused elected bodies to enact all sorts of debtor protection laws. Maybe this is happening in some states, but I haven’t heard about it. To the extent I’m seeing pushback against foreclosure, it seems to be coming more from state courts.
Anti-foreclosure policies are certainly not happening — or even being discussed — at the federal level, even though banks share a great deal of the blame for our current situation and the number of homes threatened with foreclosure is truly staggering. I’m not really making a comment about the merits of such laws as a policy matter — though I think a strong case could made for some kind of broadly shared principal reduction. I’m just curious what it says about the state of our democracy that they are not even on the table.
Kevin Drum posted over the weekend about Obama’s reelection campaign and its fundraising strategies, which appear to rely on large donors rather than the grassroots strategy he used in 2008. His despairing bottom line is:
I suppose that soon we’ll be able to do away with even the charade that anyone with a net worth of less than a million bucks matters in the slightest. Given Obama’s obvious deference to the rich over the past two years, this was probably sadly inevitable.
I tend to agree with Drum that what we seem to have at this point is one party dedicated to actively assaulting the interests of working people and especially the poor in order to preserve budget space for corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the rich. And we have another party that lacks the imagination to the challenge the terms of the debate and so is willing to consider many of the same policies, but with a great deal less glee. What is happening in Wisconsin provides some hope for a progressive revival, but I wonder whether there is room for this at the national level in the post-Clinton Democratic party. I had a slim hope during the 2008 election that Obama might provide an alternative to the Clinton model, but I was disabused of that fairly early on when I saw his economic team take shape. At the national level, does either party express a preferential option for the poor? Clearly not in the case of the Republicans, and apparently not the Democrats either. I’m not sure where we go from here.