ALERT: PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL BE ON THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO AT 11:35PM ET / 10:35PM CT
President Barack Obama smiles as he is warmly received before speaking about housing at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona.
USA Today: Obama Says It Is Time To Wind Down Fannie And Freddie
Almost five years after taxpayers bailed out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, President Obama said on Tuesday that it’s time for private investors to take a bigger role in the mortgage market. Fannie and Freddie collapsed in 2008 before being bailed out with almost $200 billion in taxpayer funds. But with the nation’s real estate market on the mend, Obama said in an address in Phoenix on home ownership that it is time to wind down the two companies and make clear that the days of a guaranteed government bailout are over.
“For too long, these companies were allowed to make big profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag,” Obama said. “It was heads we win, tails you lose. And it was wrong.” With his remarks, Obama for the first time endorsed bipartisan efforts in the Senate for mortgage reform. At the same time, he made it clear that he expects any legislation will spell out a limited government role for backing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the future, and that it must ensure Americans’ continued access to a 30-year mortgage at a fixed interest rate.
USA Today: U.S. Files Criminal Charges Over Benghazi Attack
A Libyan militia leader has been charged in last year’s terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead, two federal officials said.
Ahmed Kattalah is the first person to be charged in the Sept. 11 incident that sparked a political firestorm about the initial U.S. response to the assault.
Because the charges remain under seal, the officials were not authorized to comment publicly.
The U.S. government has accused Bank of America Corp. of civil fraud, saying the company failed to disclose risks and misled investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds during 2008. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the bank and several subsidiaries in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., where Bank of America is based. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit against Bank of America there, too.
The lawsuits accuse the second-largest U.S. bank of misleading investors about the risks of the mortgages tied to the securities. And the government said the bank failed to tell investors that more than 70 percent of the mortgages backing the investment were written by mortgage brokers outside the banks’ network. That made the mortgages more vulnerable to default, they said. The bank disclosed the percentage of such mortgage loans in the investment only to a select group of investors, the suits alleged.
CBS News: CDC: Obesity Rates Falling Among U.S. Preschoolers
A new government study of preschoolers shows there has been progress in the fight against childhood obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new report found about one in eight preschool-aged kids are obese, but the rates may be falling. CDC researchers studied more than 11 million low-income preschool children in 43 U.S. states and territories from 2008 through 2011. They found obesity rates fell in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Health officials hope the findings are a sign of things to come.
“Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” Mrs. Obama said in a news release from the White House. “Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children,” she said.
Jessica Chasmar: Oprah Winfrey: Trayvon Martin ‘Same Thing’ As Emmett Till Lynching
While promoting her new movie “The Butler,” Oprah Winfrey told The Grio that the death of Trayvon Martin was the “same thing” as the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till for allegedly flirting with a white woman in 1955. “Let me just tell you — in my mind, same thing,” she said in a preview of the interview on MSNBC. Last week, Oprah said Americans know “diddly-squat” about the history of the civil rights movement. She also said that when she hears the N-word, she thinks of the “millions” of people “who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.
The Grio: Michelle Obama Turns To Hip-Hop To Promote Childhood Obesity Campaign
Michelle Obama is adding another fun element to her healthy kids campaign that seeks to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. Like her husband, the first lady has turned to hip-hop to demonstrate a point. She is distributing a hip-hop album complete with 10 music videos and 19 tracks to support her “Let’s Move!” nutrition program. Obama is partnering with Hip-Hop Public Health and Partnership for a Healthier America to release thenSongs for a Healthier America album on September 30th.
The single “Everybody” features the first lady joined by songstress Jordin Sparks, emcee Doug E. Fresh, and medical expert Dr. Oz. The video shows children of all ages dancing lightheartedly between takes of kids doing jumping jacks push ups, and drills.
“For years I have known that we need to reach children in the formative years to educate them to live a life of prevention,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz. “The best way to do this is to build a bridge with the artists that they see on television and listen to. When someone like Doug E. Fresh shows our youngsters that health can be fun and cool, we are winning the battle.” Some other songs on the album include “Veggie Luv”, “Hip Hop LEAN”, and “Get Up Sit Up” most of which will be hip-hop based, according to U.S. News and Wold Reports.
President Barack Obama listens as Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, briefs him on the terror threat, in the Map Room of the White House, Aug. 6, 2013. Also participating in the briefing are National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama meets with former Negro League baseball players in the Cross Hall of the White House, Aug. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Bloomberg: Americans With Best Credit in Decades Drive U.S. Economy
Americans have made progress putting their finances in order and are ready to borrow again – giving the world’s largest economy another driver of spending and growth.
Household net worth soared to a record high in the first quarter, Federal Reserve data show, and the financial-obligations ratio relating consumer debt to income matched the lowest in 33 years. Consumer loans are rising, and the American Bankers Association reports the share of delinquencies on bank cards is the smallest since 1990.
“Household finances are in the best shape in decades,” said Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein … “We now have a creditworthy borrower. It’s a powerful ingredient” ….
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and when the discussion turned to a possible self-imposed budget crisis, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”
What Cantor said was the opposite of the truth – he said the nation has a “growing deficit,” when in reality, we have a shrinking deficit. We can have a discussion about whether the House Majority Leader was deliberately trying to deceive the public – Republicans have an incentive to convince the public that U.S. finances are in worse shape than they really are – or whether Cantor simply doesn’t know the basics of current events. But I’m afraid it’s either one or the other.
Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, and Ron Teasley, talk outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington following their meeting with President Obama.
A new survey from the robo-firm Public Policy Polling finds that Democrat Michelle Nunn is locked in a close battle for the Georgia Senate seat with several of the main potential GOP challengers. This — combined with the fact that the GOP primary is a crowded affair — has Dems looking at this race as a potential firewall: If Dems can somehow win in Georgia (or even Kentucky), Republicans will have to sweep four Dem incumbents out of office to take the Senate.
When the House Judiciary Committee passed a late-term abortion ban in June, Republican leaders scrambled to find a female, media-savvy legislator to bring the legislation to the floor. Their biggest problem: Not a single Republican woman was represented among the committee’s 23 Republican members. They eventually settled on Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who isn’t on the Judiciary Committee.
The episode underscored a growing problem that is worrying Republicans: Women are badly underrepresented within their party in the Congress. Only eight percent of House Republicans are women, and there are only four female Republican senators. Of the long list of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders, there’s not a single woman.
President Obama visits with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in the Blue Room of the White House, prior to Kagan’s confirmation reception in the East Room, Aug. 6, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Aug. 6, 2010: The President walks newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan into the Oval Office (Photo by Pete Souza)
Powerful words from Sybrina Fulton: “No prom for Trayvon. No high school graduation for Trayvon. No college for Trayvon. No grandkids coming from Trayvon. All because of a law; a law that has prevented the person who shot and killed my son to be held accountable and to pay for this awful crime.”
Washington Post: Maryland issues insurance rates that are among lowest in U.S.
Maryland insurance officials approved final rates Friday for health plans to be sold in the online marketplace for individuals beginning Oct. 1. The rates offered by nine carriers are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates for comparison and among the lowest in the D.C. area, according to an analysis by Maryland officials who will be operating the state’s marketplace.
“I didn’t want to be right,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says about her prediction that striking a key prong of the Voting Rights Act will lead to a wave of minority voter suppression, “but sadly I am.” In an interview with the Associated Press’ Mark Sherman, Ginsburg reiterated one of the core points of her dissent from the five Republican justices’ voting rights decision — “The notion that because the Voting Rights Act had been so tremendously effective we had to stop it didn’t make any sense to me,” Ginsburg said. “And one really could have predicted what was going to happen” once the law was struck down.
First lady Michelle Obama signs a cap for veteran Helen Horn, while meeting wounded veterans and their families, as part of Major League Baseball’s Welcome Back Veterans program and the First Lady’s Joining Forces initiative at the St. Louis Veterans Center
Dr Jill Biden, army veteran Red Schoendienst and first lady Michelle Obama stand on the mound prior to the start of Game One of the MLB World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 19
Salon: Donald Trump added a blatantly race-baiting component to his already racially charged campaign against Barack Obama’s Americanness this week when he claimed – based on things he’s “heard” – that Obama was a “terrible student” who got into Columbia and then Harvard based solely on affirmative action:
“How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records,” he said, without providing backup for his claim. Trump added, “I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can’t get into Harvard.”
Leaving aside the fact that Obama, who went on to graduate Harvard Law magna cum laude, seems like he was probably a very good student, Mr. Trump might need a refresher course in how unqualified people actually do manage to get into the prestigious Ivy League Universities.
Let us take, as an example, the story of a student so obviously unqualified, so transparently unworthy, that a book was written about what his admittance into Harvard said about the sorry behavior of supposedly elite colleges.
That student was Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Kushner’s father, real estate developer Charles Kushner, bought Jared his Harvard acceptance. It cost him $2.5 million. (Kushner later went to jail for tax evasion and witness tampering, so it was also, technically, dirty money that bought Trump’s daughter’s husband’s entry into the Ivy League.)
David Ignatius (Washington Post): Many Americans – and Arabs, too, for that matter – have a visceral sense that if there’s a war in the Middle East, the United States must be in the vanguard. I’m glad that’s not the case this weekend with the Libyan intervention. Americans should be happy to let France and Britain, who live in the neighborhood, take the lead.
President Obama is turning a page, by letting other nations take the first whacks at Moammar Gaddafi, no question about that. But that strikes me as good strategy, not a feckless blunder.
What’s increasingly clear watching the play of events over the past week is that Obama really does want to change the narrative about America and the Arab world – even at the cost of being criticized as vacillating and weak-willed. He senses (rightly, in my view) that over the past several decades America, without really intending to, became a post-colonial power in the Middle East. The narrative of American military intervention stretches from Lebanon to Iraq to Afghanistan, with the ghastly interlude of Sept. 11, 2001. Obama seems determined to break with it. He really is the un-Bush.
The administration has gotten criticized for changing course on Libya over the past week – resisting intervention and then supporting it. But the essential point, it seems to me, is that Obama was prepared to intervene only when it was clear there was an international consensus – with the Arab League and then the United Nations voting for action. That strikes me as the proper ordering of things, especially at a time when America still has big armies in two other Muslim countries…
…This Libya war may be messy and confusing, and it certainly won’t be what Pentagon planners would do if they could dictate matters. But that’s the point: America won’t be the writing this script on its own. And that’s a good thing.