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One of the bright spots in the national economy had been the tremendous gains in home prices and construction. President Bush has declared that his ownership society policies have worked. Now foreclosure rates are soaring and even wealthy investors are losing billions of dollars. As the country gears up for an election, Washington is scrambling to calm the crisis, but will politics help or make things worse?  Also, President Bush travels to Baghdad to assess progress in Iraq and, on Reporter's Notebook, with North Korea backing away from nuclear confrontation, the US has to decide if this new cooperation is sincere. Jim Sterngold guest hosts.

President George W. Bush stands with Secretary Alphonso Jackson, of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Secretary Henry Paulson Jr, of the Department of Treasury, during a statement August 31, 2007, in the Rose Garden regarding homeownership financing. White House photo by Shealah Craighead.

Making News Bush Upbeat on Iraq, Which May Mean Fewer US Troops 5 MIN, 34 SEC

President Bush flew to Iraq yesterday to assess for himself progress in quelling the insurgency. Next week, the top military commander will report on the success of the surge. It will be a pivotal moment for the Bush presidency, the 2008 election and the entire nation. What will General Petraeus say and how will Bush balance politics and national security? Demetri Sevastopulo, who covers the Pentagon for the Financial Times, is traveling with the President and Defense Secretary Gates.

Demetri Sevastopulo, Financial Times (@Dimi)

Main Topic Can Washington Contain the Mortgage Meltdown? 34 MIN, 7 SEC

First it was just defaults of sub-prime mortgages, but now the turmoil of a shaky housing industry is spreading throughout the credit markets and the stock market. Experts are asking if the national economy is in trouble because of those ripples. Last Friday President Bush stepped into the crisis by offering a plan that, he said, would help working families that had defaulted on their mortgages. The Congress is now considering new regulations to protect borrowers and to stem the rising tide of foreclosures. Is it all too late? Is a recession unavoidable? Is this just election politics or can Washington really help needy families without bailing out speculators and wealthy investors? Should the free market just be allowed to work?

Zanny Minton Beddoes, Economist
Karl Case, Professor of Economics at Wellesley College
Alys Cohen, Staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center

Reporter's Notebook Despite Progress in Negotiations, North Korea Ups the Ante 9 MIN, 5 SEC

No country has been as consistently hostile, devious or unreliable as North Korea. The Bush Administration came into office rejecting a previous agreement to halt Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program and said the regime of Kim Jong Il could never be trusted. The last year has seen head-spinning changes, with the Koreans first exploding a nuclear test bomb, and then negotiating an agreement to dismantle its program. A former negotiator on North Korea, Ambassador Jack Pritchard is now president of the Korea Economic Institute.

Charles 'Jack' Pritchard, former Ambassador to North Korea

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