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The Roundup for August 24, 2011

Let’s get to it.

• Mike Konczal has a go at Ezra Klein over this nonsensical “Obama is powerless” meme. Anyway, this is a sleepy August debate; the point isn’t what Obama could have done, it’s what he could still do. As long as everyone agrees this is a household debt crisis, relieving household debt ought to be a goal, and it’s something within the power of the Administration to accomplish without the aid of Congress.

• Meanwhile, at least for the future we could always go with resurrecting Keynesianism. The President who slayed him won’t do that job, but there are validators out there who could help.

• I think that focusing on the GOP’s desire to raise taxes on the poor is a very good political tactic. But there is a danger of selling out Social Security’s funding source in the process.

• Insurance companies have a new campaign to fight the excise tax on high-end insurance plans, which is really just a cap on the employer deduction, so I don’t see why they care so much about it.

• Foreign journalists were freed from the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli after a five-day ordeal, but Italian journalists in Zawiya have been kidnapped. Since Zawiya was supposed to be in the hands of the rebels, it calls into question just how secure Libya is at this point.

• I’ve been lax in highlighting these foreclosure fraud horror stories, so here’s one from New Jersey, where a man was foreclosed on two days after getting approved for a loan modification. He was current on his payments, to boot.

• This temporary moratorium on foreclosures in Rhode Island only applies to those in the jurisdiction of the federal court there. If any case on MERS will move up the ladder to the Supreme Court, I’d guess it’s this one.

• Jonathan Bernstein seems to really want the President to make a recess appointment. There’s really nothing stopping him from doing this.

• Lloyd Blankfein’s new lawyer Reid Weingarten happens to be good friends with Eric Holder.

• Is this fire sale by Fannie and Freddie something the new Treasury plan can solve, to have foreclosed homes rented out rather than sold? Perhaps.

• The media is finally waking up to the tar sands protest. We’re up to 275 arrests so far. This would be the social movement to fight climate change, incidentally, Mr. Klein. Also it was a social movement that led to the establishment of the EPA under Nixon. Ever heard of the Santa Barbara oil spill or “Silent Spring?”

• France goes all in for austerity. The global elites have failed us.

• If a merger between financial firms creates a systemically important institution, and that risk outweighs the benefits of the new company, it must be rejected under Dodd-Frank. That’s what’s at issue in the proposed Capital One merger with ING Direct, and that’s the principle that the Federal Reserve will probably ignore.

• These truth-telling Congressmembers always wait until they retire to tell that truth.

• The FDIC had to take over Washington Mutual when it failed. Now a judge says they can be sued, in this case by Deutsche Bank, over bad mortgage deals that WaMu made. It’s the same principle as suing BofA over Countrywide legacy assets.

• Yes, Marco Rubio said that Social Security and Medicare “weakened us as a people.” But he also saved Nancy Reagan from falling, and that makes him eligible for sainthood.

Gallup and PPP show Rick Perry well in front of the GOP field for the Presidential nomination. Perry-Rubio, here we come!

• Don’t look now, but the Greek bailout is starting to fail again.

• Putting a final nail in his Congressional hopes, NY-09 candidate Bob Turner comes out against aspects of the 9-11 health care bill. That race was never going to be truly competitive.

• Paul Krugman is not on Google Plus. Careful believing everything you read. Call it the David St. Hubbins rule.

• I was on The Majority Report with Sam Seder this morning talking about Eric Schneiderman and the foreclosure fraud “investigation.” Here’s the clip.

• The Senate’s pro forma session, held shortly after the earthquake a few blocks from the Capitol, was the first non-ceremonial Senate session outside the Capitol since 1814.

• LA Clippers star Blake Griffin is spending his time during the NBA lockout interning at Funny or Die. I might have to become a Clippers fan now.

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David Dayen

David Dayen