A BEGINNING, NOT AN END IN MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT. Thursday’s announcement of the massive $25 billion mortgage fraud settlement comes as a piece of good news in the effort to aid struggling homeowners while holding banks accountable for their role in the economic crisis. While the full details have yet to emerge, DC reporter George Zornick offers up a preview of the good, the bad and the ugly in the settlement between federal and state officials and five major banks. The deal certainly falls short in helping borrowers cope with the costs of underwater mortgages, but as Zornick points out, the immunity to prosecution granted to banks remains narrow. More importantly, the authority granted to the new federal unit charged to investigate fraud, co-chaired by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneirderman, remains intact. As I’ve argued, Schneirderman is the right man at the right moment and is already at work issuing subpoenas. He exemplifies the commitment and willpower necessary to ensure we finally see some accountability and restitution for the havoc wrought by recklessness and greed. The biggest battles, however, have yet to be fought.
LESSONS FROM PLANNED PARENTHOOD. In a long line of targeted attacks against the progressive infrastructure, right-wing zealots met their match when they pressured the Susan G. Komen foundation to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screenings. An inspiring outpouring of online and offline outrage and criticism led Komen to promptly reverse itself and send its vice president (and political opportunist), Karen Handle, packing. But her exit, as Ilyse Hogue points out this week, is largely symbolic, and reflective of “a sophisticated political operator who may have gotten exactly what she wants.”
I explained this week that there are key lessons to be drawn from the power of organized outrage. We’ve seen it on display in Ohio: popular opposition to a proposal that would gut union rights, and in Wisconsin where over a million citizens organized to recall Governor Scott Walker. In the end, these victories for workers and women are defensive ones; they don’t advance collective bargaining rights or reproductive healthcare for women and instead stymy efforts to take them away. With enough people power channeled through grassroots activism, battles over raising the minimum wage or paid sick days for working people can begin on our ground and on our terms.
HOW WISCONSIN RENEWED THE POLITICS OF PROTEST. For nearly a year, Wisconsin has been the epicenter for the battle over labor rights. From Governor Scott Walker’s vicious proposals to cut collective bargaining rights for workers, to the inspiring protests and ensuing political drama, to the historic recall efforts currently underway to remove Walker from office, The Nation’s Washington correspondent John Nichols has covered it all. A seventh-generation Wisconsinite, Nichols brought us to the front lines of the historic battle over hard-won labor rights. On Monday, February 13, join me and Nichols for a lively discussion about his new book, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest (Nation Books), the culmination of his tireless reporting for TheNation.com and which offers a comprehensive look at how change is sweeping the world, from Tahrir Square to Wall Street to Madison, Wisconsin. More details on the event here.