Archive for July, 2011
It’s almost funny to watch the negotiating tactics being tried by the Democrats and Republicans over the debt ceiling. Boehner walking out of the negotiations is a textbook hardball tactic, and can be very effective if the other side really wants to get a deal done. But which way to do a deal? On the one hand, looking at poll data suggests the vast moderate middle would rather see a deal with some increase in tax revenue than a debt default. So you stay the course, if you’re the Democrats, knowing that the Republicans will have to come around.
But there are other polls with other results, like this CBS poll from April suggesting that most Americans don’t want to raise the debt limit, and this brand new poll showing 63 percent of Americans plan to vote for a non-incumbent Representative in 2012, a record, and one seen as likely to affect Democrats more than Republicans.
So is Boehner’s action posturing, to protect Republicans from the rage of their most vocal supporters? Or if the nation goes into default on ’some things,’ will the Republicans face the ire of everyone else come 2012?
It will be interesting to see how the Democrats respond. Today’s paper had a comment from Boehner about how dealing with the White House is like dealing with a bowl of jello. That sounds like wishful thinking on Boehner’s part. But maybe he’ll be prophetic, and the White House will cave on taxes. Politicians tend to do hard things only when they absolutely have to, so we’ll probably have to wait until August 1st to find out.
When we got our last home mortgage, we used Mortgage Master, a company recommended by a friend whom I trust. It had excellent mortgage rates, almost a full percentage better than Bank of America, for instance. Both my friend and I put down more than 20 percent on our speculation-inflated houses. Only he and his wife are both white. My wife and I are a mixed race couple. It turns out Mortgage Master apparently discriminated against us and about 200 other blacks on this basis, overcharging us on our fees. We got a letter from the Mass. Attorney general notifying us of the settlement. We’ll get something between $100 and $1,000. But mostly, we’ll get a wake-up call. Mortgage Master’s president tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug, according to this piece in the Boston Herald.
I’m teaching at Harvard’s Summer School. It’s rekindled my respect for my own professors in college, who graded my papers themselves. I’m sure they were faster than I am, but it takes me 30 minutes to go through and comment on even short assignments. I find myself barely able to get through grading the assignments I’m giving. I remember receiving detailed comments week in and week out from full professors at the University of Chicago, who had full research agendas and graduate level courses and so on. They were even more amazing than I knew.