Here is a message I received today from Ellen Tauscher's office. The asterisks are mine:
There's been much written about HR 1106, especially in the blogosphere, and most of it is misinformed.
Congresswoman Tauscher has worked hard during the past few weeks to improve HR 1106 by making it more progressive*, more comprehensive and more effective. Bankruptcy is not a solution to the enormous foreclosure crisis. Congresswoman Tauscher has worked with Speaker Pelosi** and Rep. Zoe Lofgren to include a central tenet of President Obama's housing plan - a loan modification program - in the bill. They agreed.
Instead of passing legislation that would help 30,000 homeowners file for bankruptcy, Congresswoman Tauscher wants a real, accessible loan modification plan in place so that millions of homeowners can work with lenders to rewrite their mortgage payments without declaring bankruptcy, which is ruinous and painful. Earlier this morning, she was on the phone with a few lawmakers who had opposed the rule to HR 1106 to persuade them to support the rule when it comes to a vote on Wednesday.***
She is not taking directions from "the banks"; she has not even met with them.****
It's disappointing to work with so many bloggers who count themselves as progressives, but won't listen when a pragmatic progressive is trying to improve legislation. In the end, it doesn't matter. Congresswoman Tauscher's constituents enjoy her pragmatic style and the results she has delivered in seven terms in Congress; they appreciate what she's doing here.
You're picking the wrong fight with the wrong woman.*****
OK. Explanation of the asterisks in the extended entry.
|* More progressive? This might be the first time in history when New Democrats and Blue Dogs teamed up to make Nancy Pelosi more progressive:
Tauscher's New Democrat Coalition teamed with their natural allies in the Blue Dog Coalition to impose 10 significant changes, including requirements that bankruptcy judges use federal guidelines to determine the fair market value of a home and that modified loans must be "unaffordable and not just underwater" to prevent wealthy homeowners from taking advantage of the process, according to a widely distributed e-mail from Adam Pase, executive director of the New Democrat Coalition.
** Worked with Pelosi? More like made her buckle, and then bragged about it to
The Concern Troll, I mean, The Politco:
In a private meeting last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid down a challenge to her moderate members who were complaining about a provision in the housing bill. Stand up and air your grievances, she said.
A handful of those moderate members did just that, taking to the microphone to gripe that the provision, which would allow bankruptcy judges to rework loans for homeowners, needed to be more restrictive.
Then a surprising thing happened. Pelosi, who disagreed with this critique, huddled at the side of the room with her top deputies - and then buckled. She suspended consideration of the housing bill so more thought could be put into the bankruptcy item.(...)
"It shows we have bench strength, and it shows we can flex," said California Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, who chairs the New Democrat Coalition and played a central role in negotiations over the bankruptcy bill.
That is an interesting definition of "working with" someone. While I am sure it is a technically correct usage of the term, since both Pelosi and Tauscher draw salaries from the House of Representatives, much of the work was done in an oppositional manner.
*** Of course she is working to get people to vote for the rule on HR 1106 tomorrow. Without a new rule on HR 1106, Tauscher's new deal on the legislation can't come up for a vote.
**** Didn't meet with the banking industry? Adam Pase, already referenced in these asterisks, is a former lobbyist for the banking industry, and he works out of Ellen Tauscher's office. Or, at least Pase shares a phone line with her office, and is clearly sending out emails on this legislation.
***** Now we are picking the fight? Last I checked, it was Tauscher and her allies who delayed the bill last week, not us bloggers. Those of us writing about it were with the leadership and the original bill.
As I already wrote earlier tonight, I can live with the compromise that went through. However, when a former lobbyist for the banking industry is distributing memos from your office about the concessions New Democrats and Blue Dogs won after delaying the legislation, don't tell me that you are working with Speaker Pelosi, without any input from the banking industry, to make a piece of legislation more progressive.