Washington Extra – Obama kills the bill

October 7, 2010

Last night Reuters correspondent Scot Paltrow revealed that a bill had sailed through the Senate last week — without public debate — which would have made it significantly harder for homeowners to challenge improper attempts to foreclose on their houses.foreclosures2 The legislation, which was sitting on President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature, would have forced courts to recognize out-of-state notarizations, including those stamped en masse by computers in other states, a practice critics say has been used improperly to push through foreclosure orders. Computer notarizations, now valid in around a dozen states, would effectively have become legal nationally, and challenges to improper notarizations made in other states would have become harder and costlier.

Today, after the story became public, the White House announced that Obama was sending the legislation back to the House of Representatives for further discussion – a so-called “pocket veto.” Given the rising chorus of lawmakers calling for all foreclosures to be suspended, the legislation now looks dead.

As Reuters Breakingviews columnist James Pethokoukis wrote today, the foreclosure scandal is lousy timing for Wall Street, the fallout likely to further erode the financial industry’s standing among the general public and in Washington. That could make it harder for Wall Street to influence lawmakers and regulators next year as they seek to implement and flesh out this year’s sweeping financial reforms.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Obama will not sign foreclosure-friendly bill

President Barack Obama will not sign legislation that could make it more difficult for homeowners to challenge unjustified foreclosure actions, the White House said. The bill, which zoomed through the Senate last week with no public debate, would save bank and mortgage processors from liability for foreclosure documents that were prepared improperly. Its passage caught homeowners’ advocates, including lawyers and some state officials, by surprise.

For more of this story by Caren Bohan and Scot Paltrow, read here.

For analysis from our Breakingviews columnist James Pethokoukis, click here.

IMF, World Bank call for cooler heads on currencies

World leaders must defuse currency tensions before they worsen to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Great Depression, the head of the World Bank said. The push among nations for a trading edge, reminiscent of the strains that exacerbated the Great Depression, is also expected to be a primary topic of discussion when G7 finance leaders hold a closed-door dinner on Friday.

For more of this story by Lesley Wroughton and Walter Brandimarte, read here.

House vote raised odds of Senate action on yuan

The odds for Senate action to get tough on China’s currency practices improved after a bipartisan vote last week in the House of Representatives. Lawmakers think China deliberately undervalues its yuan currency by 25 percent to 40 percent, giving its exporters an unfair price advantage.

For more of this story by Doug Palmer, read here.

Little hope for struggling Democrats in jobs report

Another disappointing jobs report on Friday would make it even harder for President Obama to convince Americans that Democrats deserve to keep control of Congress. “When the unemployment rate is 9.5 to 9.6 percent, that gives an enormous advantage to whoever is not in power because they can simply point at the status quo, regardless of causation, and say ‘you know what — it’s the folks who are in power who are at fault,’” Obama said this week.

For more of this analysis by Patricia Zengerle, read here.

Job losses in 2009 likely bigger than thought

The economy likely shed more jobs last year than the Labor Department previously thought, but the undercount is probably than during depths of the recession. Whatever the outcome, it will probably have little implication for monetary policy, given that the economic recovery is very weak by historical standards.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

CFTC eyes new powers to police algorithmic trading

The futures regulator will look at whether new regulations could prevent market disruption from high-frequency algorithmic trading in the wake of the May 6 “flash crash.” “Who is responsible when technology goes awry? Do we treat rogue algorithms like rogue traders?” a CFTC commissioner said.

For more of this story by Roberta Rampton, read here.

U.S. Chamber pledges to take Obama policies to court

The Chamber, the nation’s largest business lobby, is beefing up its staff to fight health care and financial regulation reform in court. The chamber’s litigation approach has worked before. Earlier this week the SEC put on hold a rule giving shareholders more power to influence corporate boards after the chamber filed a lawsuit over the rule.

For more of this story by Mark Hosenball, read here.

How Republicans could block healthcare reform

Republicans could stop healthcare reform even if they cannot repeal it by blocking legislation needed to pay for it, creating “zombie legislation,” healthcare expert Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution wrote in a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine. Aaron said repeal is unlikely.

For more of this story by Maggie Fox, read here.

Pakistan spy agency’s militant links worrying

Defense officials are concerned some elements of Pakistan‘s spy agency may be interacting improperly with the Taliban and other insurgent groups. “The ISI has done a great deal in fighting terrorism … but we also have some concerns with … the strategic focus of the ISI,” a spokesman told reporters at the Pentagon.

For more of this story by David Alexander, read here.

Ex-Guantanamo detainee sues U.S. for damages

A Syrian man who was held at Guantanamo Bay has sued Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former military officers, seeking compensation for alleged torture and inhumane treatment during his nine years of detention. Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko, 32, was released last October after winning a court challenge despite the U.S. government’s contention that he had been part of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

For more of this story, read here.

Most US doctors plan to get flu shots, survey finds

Almost all U.S. doctors said they plan to get vaccinated against flu this season, a finding that heartened disease experts frustrated by low vaccination rates. “To all nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and others — please, get vaccinated and recommend the vaccine to your patients,” said Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

For more of this story by Maggie Fox, read here.

 

What we are blogging…

What’s it like to be the most powerful woman in the world? Michelle knows

Michelle Obama is the most powerful woman in the world. So says Forbes magazine. Has the designation changed anything in her household, given that her husband is the leader of the free world? We asked her office, but they wouldn’t bite. But no one at the White House is disputing the title (we assume they wouldn’t dare).

For Tabassum Zakaria’s full blog, click here.

From elsewhere…

FBI seizes John Lennon fingerprints before auction

A set of John Lennon’s fingerprints being auctioned for at least $100,000 was seized by the FBI, 30 years after the singer’s death. The fingerprint card was being shown to media at a midtown New York store in a preview of more than 90 Beatles items when the FBI faxed a subpoena there and took the card. “We’re investigating how the item came to be in a private collection,” an FBI spokesman said. “It is apparently a government document and would not normally be in the commercial stream.”

For more of this story, read here.

Provocative Putin calendar provokes retort

Several female journalism students from a prestigious Russian university posed in slinky lingerie for a calendar filled with warm — sometimes steamy — birthday greetings for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It drew swift and severe criticism from a separate group of journalism students, who made a calendar with photos depicting them in dark clothing, their mouths taped, with captions asking questions about issues that are the focus of criticism of Putin and his era.

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (Realtor Mac McCollum in front of a foreclosed home in Bullhead City, Arizona)

One comment

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Two page bill quietly sailed through the senate with no record of who voted for it …. how low can these senators, congressmen and women can get? Thank you Mr. President for killing the bill.

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