Last week Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae lost almost half their stock value—a real blow to the two companies that hold almost half all US mortgages. Bankers, federal officials and members of Congress spent a busy weekend on a bailout that could mean billions in taxpayer money. Also, the President got what he wanted from the Democrats who run Congress including Barack Obama, who promised a filibuster but then voted "yes."
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Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are owned by private shareholders. But because they originally were chartered by Congress and get favorable rates, investors believe that both companies are implicitly backed by the federal government. They now own almost fifty percent of all mortgages in the United States, amounting to $5 trillion. Last week, their stocks lost almost half their value.
Last week the Democratic majorities in Congress passed--and the president signed--the FISA bill. The biggest revamping of federal surveillance powers in 30 years allows more wiretapping of people overseas and at home, and provides phone companies with immunity from lawsuits for what they did - at the Bush Administration's request- before the law was passed. Barack Obama voted for it, despite earlier promises that he would filibuster if it contained that provision.
Eric Lichtblau, Investigative Reporter, New York Times
Jane Harman, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Ed Kilgore, Democratic Strategist (@ed_kilgore)
Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com (@ggreenwald)
Shirley Anne Warshaw, Presidential Scholar, Gettysburg College
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed an executive order banning further drilling for oil off-shore. Today, President George W. Bush lifted the ban. Stephen Power reports on energy policy for the Wall Street Journal.
Stephen Power, Energy and Environmental Policy Reporter, Wall Street Journal