Two Stories From The Progress Report
ECONOMY -- REPORT: WALL STREET FIRMS DROVE SUBPRIME CRISIS: The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) released an extensive report yesterday detailing how Wall Street firms fueled the subprime lending that helped create the current economic crisis. CPI reported that "at least 21 of the top 25 subprime lenders were financed by banks that received bailout money -- through direct ownership, credit agreements, or huge purchases of loans for securitization." More importantly, CPI wrote, "increasingly, lenders were selling their loans to Wall Street, so they wouldn't be left holding the deed in the event of a foreclosure. In a financial version of hot potato, they could make bad loans and just pass them along." The Wonk Room's Pat Garofalo noted that the Wall Street firms would in turn "sell the loans to institutional investors, and use the money raised to buy more subprime loans, in a vicious cycle of buying, selling, and lending." This report paints quite a different picture than the one conservatives were trying to sell last fall, when they repeatedly claimed that the mortgage crisis was the fault of banks lending to minorities. As Fox News's Neil Cavuto said at the time, "loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster."
RADICAL RIGHT -- CHENEY EXPLAINS THAT HE'S SPEAKING OUT AGAINST OBAMA TO PROTECT THE 'LITTLE GUYS': Since leaving office, Vice President Cheney has launched unrelenting and baseless attacks on President Obama while vigorously defending the Bush administration. In an interview with the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes on Monday, Cheney explained why he has emerged as such a vocal Bush defender and Obama critic -- in contrast to President Bush, who says Obama "deserves my silence." Cheney said that when he was a member of Congress during the Iran-Contra investigations (of which he was a prominent critic), he saw firsthand senior administration officials absolving themselves while unfairly pinning blame on the "little guys." Because of this, Cheney said, he "sure as hell will" continue to speak out: "I went through the Iran-contra hearings and watched the way administration officials ran for cover and left the little guys out to dry. And I was bound and determined that wasn't going to happen this time. ... And this time around I'll do my damnedest to defend anybody out there," Cheney said. Cheney's defense of the "little guy," especially with regard to torture, is unusual. First, the Bush officials implicated in approving torture were hardly "little" -- they were the senior-most Bush administration officials, such as David Addington, Jay Bybee, and Alberto Gonzales. Second, after Abu Ghraib broke in 2004, Cheney and other top Bush officials systematically laid the blame for the abuses on low-level interrogators, the real little guys, in an attempt to exonerate senior officials. Yet as a recent Senate Armed Services Committee report observed, "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own."