Ex-Goldman Banker Behind WSJ’s Elizabeth Warren Attack

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It’s no secret that the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page, a bastion of conservatism, dislikes the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its leader, consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren. But in recent weeks, the WSJ has amped up its attacks on Warren and the bureau, calling her a “czar” and accusing her and the bureau of “extorting billions of dollars from private mortgage servicers” and “stalling a US housing market recovery.”

Really? Those are some awfully shrill and sweeping accusations by the Journal‘s editorial writers. They’re also not true. For starters, no one’s extorting mortgage servicers. They did a dismal job during the foreclosure crisis of trying to help homeowners reach a mutually beneficial solution to their housing woes. Even the GOP’s top investigator in the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said he’d consider a probe of servicers. A civil fine of $20 billion (or $10 billion, or $5 billion) to fund foreclosure mitigation efforts would go along toward making up for the sheer dysfunction and incompetence of the hopelessly broken mortgage servicing industry.

And what about “stalling a housing recovery”? Would a settlement forcing servicers to fix their broken practices have such an effect? Hmm, a statement like that suggests the housing market is in fact recovering—which it’s not. The latest S&P/Case Shiller index showed house prices bottoming out at 2009 levels. That’s bad. And at the heart of the problem isn’t the prospect of a settlement or fine but the still-fragile US job market. To blame a mortgage-servicer settlement, let alone Elizabeth Warren and the consumer bureau, for undermining the housing recovery looks more like a smear than a reasoned argument. The Journal‘s own news team reported that a settlement could help the recovery, helping to “lift a cloud of uncertainty that has stalled the foreclosure process since last fall.”

As HuffPo’s Zach Carter reports, it turns out the editorial writer behind the attacks on Warren and the bureau is Mary Kissel, a former banker at Goldman Sachs. Here’s more from Carter:

The foreclosure process is in disarray, and even Republican state Attorneys General say that banks have broken the law with improper foreclosures. Consumer advocates have accused banks of levying heavy, improper fees against borrowers, driving them into foreclosure, while other borrowers have been foreclosed on without missing any mortgage payments. Banks have also physically broken into the homes of borrowers in order to pursue foreclosures.

Warren has publicly criticized Goldman in testimony before Congress and during on-air interviews with CNBC and Bloomberg. When Warren chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, she told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) during a hearing that Goldman had not provided her panel with key documents pertaining to the bailout of AIG, from which Goldman reaped over $11 billion. She also said that the Wall Street giant should be investigated for wrongdoing pertaining to the sale of mortgage derivatives during the housing bubble. Goldman eventually settled with the SEC for $550 million over allegations that it defrauded investors.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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