On Wednesday, three federal regulators -- the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency -- released an enforcement order against 14 of the nation's largest banks and two third-party service providers for persistent irregularities and outright fraud in the way they process mortgages. These regulators are, respectively, the gang that missed the housing bubble, American International Group's overseer (whose colossal lapses caused it to be disbanded in last year's financial-regulatory law), and an entity most recently headed by a former bank lobbyist.
This week, congressional negotiators will either reach an agreement on a continuing resolution for the 2011 budget or force the government to shut down. Even at a time when unemployment remains at an elevated 8.8 percent and a number of global concerns (the Japanese earthquake disaster, the European debt crisis, state budget cuts, and the depressed housing market) threaten the nascent recovery, Republicans will most likely succeed in cutting an additional $23 billion to the budget. Including the $10 billion already slashed in the two stopgap funding measures that were passed earlier this year, that brings the total to $33 billion, about the same level that House Republican leaders proposed before their most conservative members forced them to try to cut even deeper.