Commentary

That's right. The Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit of the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing today on credit card marketing to college students. And even though I know a lot of you in the C-SPAN set were watching the streaming feed on the Committee web site, I'm here to give a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings for anyone who may have missed it.

|

Certainly, there is a housing bubble, and it is partly the result of bad policy — notably the takeover of a good deal of mortgage lending by predators, and the abdication of financial supervision by the government. However, it is a mistake to think that the best policy is one of benign neglect, for there is nothing benign about a situation in which American homeowners stand to lose two trillion dollars of their net worth, and foreclosures proceed at the rate of 25,000 a week.

|

One night last winter, Sally Judson was arrested for prostitution and disorderly conduct. She was also charged with resisting arrest and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Judson, who has schizophrenia as well as a heroin addiction, is one of hundreds of thousands of Americans clogging the criminal-justice system for drug offenses. Many, like Judson, are also mentally ill, and the system often fails to treat the mental illness and instead ends up just submerging it in the criminal behavior.

|

Last week, new consumer price data released by the US Labor Department confirmed what most shoppers already suspected: Food prices, which took their biggest one-month leap in nearly two decades in April, rose even further in May. Energy costs, too, went up last month. The big question, though, is why?

|

...while excitement is good, it also comes with risk. As I've written before, I think the most important priority in picking a running mate should be choosing someone clearly qualified to be president. A close second to that is the ability to perform the job of vice president, a job description that includes serving as a capable surrogate and helping the president to govern more effectively.

|

I'm all in favor of unions and other voices of the left making themselves heard when it comes to the substantive priorities of the Obama campaign and someday (should things go well in November) the Obama administration. But making a fuss over the appointment of economist Jason Furman, because of his association with centrist Democratic economics, seems not the best excuse to do it.

|

The Credit Card Crunch has caught the nation's attention. From single working mothers to jet setting finance guys, today's economy has everyone watching their bottom line. Unfortunately, few are focused on what is shaping up to be the economic debacle of our generation: the growing racial divide that threatens to undermine the economic future of the nation.

|

I have just returned from two weeks in Europe and Istanbul, where, as is apparent to all American travelers, the world is watching the US elections with fervent hope, if also some trepidation. A possible Obama presidency is seen everywhere as a potentially transformational moment for American leadership in the world.

Yet while the world is watching America, America is paying little attention to the world.

|

As health-care costs continue to climb, the trend to more "cost sharing" continues, and the ranks of the uninsured keep swelling, more and more Americans are finding that paying for medical care means going into debt. The latest study by the Commonwealth Fund found that one out of five Americans have medical debt — a population that includes many individuals with health insurance.

The credit card crunch underscores the great racial divide that remains in the American economy. Around half of all white households with credit cards are indebted, but for black households the number is more than 80 percent, with Latino families close behind.

|