Category Archives: Democrat Party

The Consumer Financial Bureau’s Bias Shakedown

I wait for one of my friends on the Left to explain why they support this kind of “executive behavior”? [Which I’m sure they must support…]
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How does the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau figure out when employers unintentionally discriminate against minorities? The bureau’s lawyers know, or maybe they’re making it up as they go along. Whatever it is, they’re not telling Congress or employers.

That’s the conclusion from a letter that Texas Republican Jeb Hensarling sent earlier this month to financial bureau director Richard Cordray. The Congressman reveals a nine-month, bipartisan effort to get the bureau to explain how it calculates disparate impact, a legal theory that purports to show discrimination through statistics without having to prove intent or bias in any particular case. The Obama Administration has used disparate impact to threaten employers with lawsuits and cow them into monetary settlements without ever going to court.

Mr. Hensarling’s concern is with companies that make car loans through auto dealerships. In March 2013 the financial bureau ruled that these lenders are subject to disparate impact under the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). The agency didn’t clarify how it would find such discrimination, and no wonder.

ECOA explicitly prohibits lenders from collecting information on race, gender or ethnicity. The only way the bureau could prove discrimination would be to guess by using proxy measures, such as a surname. So is a Mr. Smith living in Atlanta black or white?

In May 13 House Democrats asked the bureau to explain its “method” of identifying “different groups of consumers.” Several weeks later, the agency responded that it was “committed to being open and transparent in all appropriate circumstances,”  [ very enlightening, wouldn’t you say?] but didn’t disclose much else. In June 35 House Republicans asked for similar information. The bureau gave them the run-around.

In October, the Senate weighed in when 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans asked for “complete details concerning the statistical methodology the Bureau employs to determine whether disparate impact is present in an auto creditor’s portfolio.” A few days later, the bureau responded that it makes “case-by-case assessments of whether to pursue supervisory or enforcement activity in response to statistically significant disparities.”  [ Ah, the added clarity is breath-taking!] That non-answer left employers scratching their heads and worried about lawsuits.

Then in December Ally Bank coughed up $98 million to settle bureau allegations of discrimination in auto lending. Banking sources tell us there are numerous similar investigations pending, which is no surprise. A government charge of racism is publicly damaging even without proof, and a lender can’t fight the charges if it doesn’t know which practices the bureau thinks are illegal.

All of which underscores the degree to which the financial bureau is accountable to no one but a White House that has shown its own disdain for the rule of law. [I wonder when anyone besides a few on the Right will think this important!] The House voted 232-182 late last month to subject the bureau to Congressional funding and to remove its director in favor of a five-member commission. Mr. Cordray and the White House know that Senate Democrats will block it, so they will continue to extort cash from lenders to settle claims whose legality they never have to explain, much less prove.

The Consumer Financial Bureau’s Bias Shakedown – WSJ.com.

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The Ideologue vs the Children

Finally one Democratic politician willing to say, “No” – sort of -to union priorities over good education.
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What a small and politically vicious man New York’s new mayor is. Bill de Blasio doesn’t like charter schools. They are too successful to be tolerated. Last week he announced he will drop the ax on three planned Success Academy schools. (You know Success Academy: It was chronicled in the film “Waiting for Superman.” It’s one of the charter schools the disadvantaged kids are desperate to get into.) Mr. de Blasio has also cut and redirected the entire allotment for charter facility funding from the city’s capitol budget. An official associated with a small, independent charter school in the South Bronx told me the decision will siphon money from his school’s operations. He summed up his feelings with two words: “It’s dispiriting.”

Some 70,000 of the city’s one million students, most black or Hispanic, attend charter schools, mostly in poorer neighborhoods. Charter schools are privately run but largely publicly financed. Their teachers are not unionized. Their students usually outscore their counterparts at conventional public schools on state tests. Success Academy does particularly well. Last year 82% of its students passed citywide math exams. Citywide the figure was 30%.

These are schools that work. They are something to be proud of and encourage.

Mr. de Blasio’s move has caused considerable personal anxiety and widespread public anger. The Daily News on Thursday called the nearly 200 Success Academy students who now have no place to go the mayor’s “educational orphans.” A reporter spoke to distraught families. “I wanted the best for my daughter,” said Rakim Smith, 40, a cable technician from Harlem whose daughter Dymond is a sixth-grader at Success Academy Harlem Central Middle School. “Now they’re trying to take it away.” “I don’t know where else I can send my son so that he can have the same level education,” said Fatoumata Kebe of the Bronx, whose 11-year-old son, Ousmane, goes to Harlem Central

On Thursday Mr. de Blasio went on a sympathetic radio station and couldn’t have been clearer about what is driving his actions. Charter schools may help the poor and those just starting out in America, they may give options to kids who’ve floundered elsewhere, but a lot of them are supported by rich people. There is a “strong private-sector element” in their funding, he said. The mayor agreed with host Ebro Darden that “a lot” of charter schools are funded by big business: “Oh yeah, a lot of them are funded by very wealthy Wall Street folks and others.” When Mr. Darden and co-host Peter Rosenberg suggested that a “campaign” to portray the mayor as anti-charter-school was also funded by big business, Mr. de Blasio, as the New York Post noted, didn’t disagree. “I think you’re providing a keen political analysis there.”

Clever people usually try to hide their animus. This one doesn’t care if you know how he feels about that “element.”

It is true that wealthy and public-spirited New Yorkers, out of loyalty to the city and its future generations, give a lot of money, care and time—the last, time, doesn’t get noted enough—to create and help run many of the city’s charter schools. They should be thanked for this, every day. Again, they do it because they care about children who would otherwise be locked into a public-school system that doesn’t work.

But the people who run the public-school system that doesn’t work—the one where you can’t fire teachers who sexually prey on students and principals who don’t even show up for work, which is to say the public schools run by the city’s huge and powerful teachers union—don’t like the charter schools. And they are the mayor’s supporters, a significant part of his base.

The very existence of charter schools is an implicit rebuke to the public schools. It means they are not succeeding, and something new must be tried. That something new won’t be perfect—no charter school is, and some are more imperfect than others—but people still line up to get into them. And there’s something to the wisdom of crowds. When a school exists for the students, you can tell. When it exists for the unions, you can tell that too.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is not politically inept, made clear this week that he will stand with the charter schools. Mr de Blasio had come to Albany Tuesday on what is called lobbying day. He brought more than 1,000 people and held a rally to press state lawmakers to increase city income taxes to pay for prekindergarten education. Mr Cuomo, who had already told Mr. de Blasio that he backs pre-K but not a tax hike, decided to hold his own rally. His crowd, full of charter school students, teachers and families, was much bigger than de Blasio’s. Mr. Cuomo had fiery words. “They say it’s cold out here, but I don’t feel cold, I feel hot. I feel fired up,” he said. “You are not alone. . . . We will save charter schools.”

This was centrist and politically clever, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Mr. Cuomo showed not all Democrats are on the same page on education reform, and some are passionately for it.

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We close with a little red meat because there’s something in this story—frightened children, cold political operators—that gets our blood up.

Nice liberals who back school reform are saying some very strange things about what Mr. de Blasio is doing. They’re being awfully understanding. They’re saying you have to appreciate that compared with his political base, the mayor is really staking out a middle ground. He is not going as far as the progressive left wants him to. They want to block all charters. They’re disappointed! The teachers union doesn’t want any charter expansion. And they’re his base!

It is not the job of nice liberals to make excuses for pols who take a good thing from kids just to satisfy a political agenda. It is not the job of nice liberals to forgive a politician acting in a brutish way, throwing poor children from hard circumstances out of good schools.

It’s not the job of liberals to explain that away. It’s their job to oppose it, because this move against charter schools is an opening feint, a showing of mood, and a sign of things to come

The nice liberals of New York are sounding on this very much like frightened French aristocrats in 1792: “You have to understand, Marat is pretty ideological and we’re lucky he’s only cutting off our ears and nose and not our heads.” No, he came for their heads later.

You say,: “He’s not Marat, he’s just a slob.” That’s true. But even slobs need to be opposed now and then.

In this move more than any so far, Mr. de Blasio shows signs he is what his critics warned he would be—a destructive force in the city of New York. When a man says he will raise taxes to achieve a program like pre-K education, and is quickly informed that that program can be achieved without raising taxes, and his answer is that he wants to raise taxes anyway, that man is an ideologue.

And ideologues will sacrifice anything to their ideology. Even children.

The Ideologue vs. the Children – WSJ.com.

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Improving Education for the Poor… and the Left

Again, no surprises.
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Feb. 28, 2014 6:48 p.m. ET
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio carried through this week on one of his campaign’s “progressive” promises: his assault on charter schools. Mr. de Blasio announced that he would not allow Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy to open three new charter schools that had been approved by previous Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Readers of these columns are familiar with this fight, so we’ll break it down to the basics. There are nearly 200 charter schools serving some 70,000 students in New York City. Nearly all are located in the poorest minority neighborhoods of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan. Local media coverage of the announcement made clear that affected black and Hispanic parents are upset. “I’m angry beyond belief,” said Shea Reeder about the shutdown of the Harlem charter her child attends.

Speaking of beyond belief, we have three pertinent questions: Where is U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan ? Where is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ? And where is the President of the United States who, incredibly, announced his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative the same week this happened?

All three men are on record supporting charter schools, for the obvious reason that charters give the poorest kids a chance to get ahead. All three have been silent on the New York City shutdown.

This is a high-noon moment for charters. These three can either get out in public to defend these schools, or pull down the shades while Bill de Blasio and his union pals kill them off one by one over the next four years.

Calling Arne Duncan – WSJ.com.

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Christie and the IRS

Hopefully, this is a “teachable moment” for voters, too.
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Now that we have your attention, allow us to explain. Governor Chris Christie apologized to New Jersey on Thursday for aides who closed traffic lanes in order to punish a Democratic mayor, and he fired a deputy chief of staff. We mention the IRS because Mr. Christie’s contrition contrasts so sharply with President Obama’s handling of the tax agency’s abuse of political opponents and his reluctance to fire anyone other than a military general for anything.

In his long press conference in Trenton, Mr. Christie was properly contrite, saying he had been “lied to” by the senior aide he proceeded to fire. He also said he is withdrawing his support for his former campaign manager to run the state Republican Party because the man had shown “callous and indifferent” behavior toward the people inconvenienced by the traffic-lane closures. If Mr. Christie really didn’t know about this cheap exercise in political payback, and nothing new emerges, the incident shouldn’t interfere with the Governor’s expected presidential run.

That doesn’t mean Mr. Christie shouldn’t learn from the experience. One lesson is that he’s going to have to upgrade the quality of his advisers as he moves onto the national scene. The traffic-lane-as-vendetta ploy is so dumb and petty that anyone who would attempt it isn’t ready for prime time. Never mind putting it in email.

Mitt Romney was supposed to be a crack manager, but he surrounded himself with campaign lightweights and he suffered for it. One of Mr. Christie’s selling points for the White House will be that he is an executive who has run a sizable state, so the media will descend on Trenton even more than it did on Wasilla, Alaska, for Sarah Palin. Better to clean out the hack loyalists now.

Which brings us to the Obama Administration, which quickly leaked to the media that the U.S. Attorney is investigating the lane closures as a criminal matter. Well, that sure was fast, and nice of Eric Holder’s Justice Department to show its typical discretion when investigating political opponents.

This is the same Administration that won’t tell Congress what resources it is devoting to the IRS probe, and appears to be slow-rolling it. It has also doubled down by expanding the political vetting of 501(c)(4) groups seeking tax-exempt status. Lois Lerner, who ran the IRS tax-exempt shop and took the Fifth before Congress, was allowed to “retire,” presumably with a pension. Acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller resigned under pressure but no other heads have rolled. Yet compared to using the IRS against political opponents during an election campaign, closing traffic lanes for four days is jaywalking.

We raise this mostly because our media friends have been complicit in dismissing the IRS abuses, and for that matter every other legal abuse during the Obama years. The exception is the Edward Snowden theft of National Security Agency documents, which so far have exposed not a single example of law-breaking.

Not that this should make Mr. Christie or any other potential GOP candidate complacent. Republicans operate under a double media standard that holds them to a much lower scandal threshold. In that sense the pathetic New Jersey traffic-lane scandal may be, as Mr. Obama likes to say, a teachable moment.

Full article….

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