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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

U.S. Mortgage Trouble Reappears - U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country's biggest banks.

The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along.

More than $221 billion of these loans at the largest banks will hit this mark over the next four years, about 40 percent of the home equity lines of credit now outstanding.

For a typical consumer, that shift can translate to their monthly payment more than tripling, a particular burden for the subprime borrowers that often took out these loans. And payments will rise further when the Federal Reserve starts to hike rates, because the loans usually carry floating interest rates.

The number of borrowers missing payments around the 10-year point can double in their eleventh year, data from consumer credit agency Equifax shows. has more here.


U.S. - Afghan Security Agreement Near Collapse - Efforts by the United States and Afghanistan to finalize a long-term security arrangement appeared on the brink of collapse Monday as Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a new set of demands, and the Obama administration said it would be forced to begin planning for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces at the end of 2014.

In a two-hour meeting here, Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s top national security adviser, told Karzai that if he failed to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year, the United States would have “no choice” but to prepare for withdrawal, according to a statement by the National Security Council in Washington.

Karzai told Rice that he would sign only after the United States helps his government begin peace talks with the Taliban and agrees to release all 17 Afghan citizens being held in the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, according to Afghan and U.S. officials. The Washington Post has more here.


Democrat Declared Winner in Virginia AG Race - This will still likely drag on for weeks, but Democrat Mark Herring was officially declared the winner Monday of the Virginia Attorney General's race by just 165 votes out of more than two million votes cast over Republican Mark Obenshain -- 1,103,777 to 1,103,612.

If the result holds up, Democrats would control all five statewide offices -- governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and the two U.S. Senate seats -- for the first time in a generation, since 1969 when Democratic politics were very different. In states like Virginia, they were culturally conservative and dubbed Dixiecrats for the most part. It would also be the first time a Democrat was elected attorney general since 1989.

That represents a significant shift in the politics of Virginia, a state that had been traditionally conservative. Before President Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008, no Democratic presidential nominee had done so since 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas swept most of the country following John F. Kennedy's assassination a year earlier.  NBC News has more here.


Poll Shows Republicans with Slight Edge on Ballot Test - Another poll shows the Democratic advantage on a generic congressional ballot has been wiped away since the troubled launch of ObamaCare last month.

A CNN-ORC poll released Tuesday found Republicans hold a slight advantage — 49 percent to 47 percent — on the ballot test going into 2014. That is a 10-point reversal among registered voters in the last month.
A CNN poll in October showed a Democratic advantage of 50 percent to 42 percent. Similar polling during, and shortly after, the government shutdown showed similar results. But as the focus turned to the plagued rollout of the ObamaCare health exchanges, that advantage has been erased.

A Quinnipiac poll earlier this month also showed a 9-point turnaround in a generic congressional ballot test for Republicans.

Republicans hold a 17-seat advantage in the House going into the 2014 elections. And even with a large generic ballot advantage last month, Democrats had an uphill climb to retake the chamber. has more here.


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