Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy


Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Mitt on Foreclosures: "Let It...Hit the Bottom"

| Tue Oct. 18, 2011 11:04 PM EDT
GOP Presidential candidate holds a press conference at a shuttered shopping center in North Hollywood, California in July.

When given the chance to take a shot at his newly minted biggest rival, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney didn't pass it up at Tuesday's GOP debate. The former Massachusetts governor positioned himself as a champion of the middle class—which is why he was so adamantly opposed to 9-9-9. But when it came to an issue of serious importance for the embattled middle class—especially in Nevada, the state hit the hardest by the housing crisis—Romney punted. Rather than intervening to save underwater mortgages, Romney said, "the right course is to let markets work."

At least he's been consistent. Romney was offering a cliff-notes argument of a point he made earlier in the day, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

As to what to do for the housing industry specifically, are there things that you could do to encourage housing? One is: Don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up. The Obama administration has slow-walked the foreclosure process that has long existed, and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang. Number two, the credit that was given to first-time home-buyers was insufficient, inadequate to turn around the housing market. I think it was an ineffective idea, it was a little bit like the Cash for Clunkers program, throwing government money at something which was not market-oriented, did not staunch the decline in home values anymore than it encouraged the auto industry to take off. I think the idea of helping people refinance homes to stay in them is one that's worth further consideration, but I'm not signing on until I know who's going to pay, and who's going to get bailed out.


About That Immigration Study Mitt Romney Cited...

| Tue Oct. 18, 2011 10:52 PM EDT
Texas Governor Rick Perry wisely chose not to slug Mitt Romney at Tuesday's debate.

The most dramatic* moment at Tuesday night's GOP presidential debate came past the midway point, when Rick Perry and Mitt Romney clashed over illegal immigration. In addition to consistently referring to undocumented migrants as "illegals," Romney went on to suggest that Perry's record of job growth in Texas was comprised mostly of illegal immigrants. Romney cited a study showing that 81 percent of new jobs in Texas over the last few years went to undocumented workers.

But as Suzy Khimm explained, the study Romney is citing, from the Center for Immigration Studies, is flawed. Among other things:

Perryman points out that the study's conclusions about newly arrived immigrants in Texas aren't likely to hold true for the immigration population on the whole. By restricting its scope to immigrants who’ve arrived after 2007, the study doesn’t take into account any job losses by immigrants who came before 2007, he says. For example, if an immigrant who arrived after 2007 takes the job of a immigrant who came earlier, that still counts as a net gain in the study.

Another reason to be skeptical of CIS: It's the same group that produced a report last March supporting the debunked "terror babies" theory. According to CIS, terrorists are coming to the United States illegally to have kids who will take advantage of their American citizenship to destroy America from within.

*And by dramatic, we mean, "the moment that prompted Rick Perry to actually, physically curl his lip."

Michele Bachmann Takes on the National Park Service

| Tue Oct. 18, 2011 9:58 PM EDT

On Saturday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) became the first GOP presidential candidate to sign a pledge from an anti-immigration group Americans for Securing the Border. Per the group's website, the pledge compels Bachmann to complete a 2,000-mile-long fence, from San Diego to Brownsville, by December 31, 2013—or 11 months into her hypothetical first term in office. It would be a double-fence, because sometimes one fence just doesn't cut it, and it will be, Bachmann says, contiguous: "It will be every mile, it will be every yard, it will be every foot, it will be every inch of that border, because that portion you fail to secure is the highway into the United States." On Tuesday at the GOP presidential debate in Nevada she doubled-down on the pledge.

Bachmann's talking a good game for the conservative primary electorate. The problem for her is that building such a fence in such a short period of time is logistically impossible—and even if we could build it, we probably wouldn't want it. Bachmann's plan is intended to serve as a counter to the actual border wall being constructed, initiated under President Bush and nearing completion under President Obama, which is a mix of both physical and virtual (involving a network of cameras and drones, among other things). In some places, the fence looks like the kind of intimidating edifice that always finds its way into campaign ads. But in some stretches, it's a lot different.

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