The Plank

Oh, Oh Sheila ...

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I'm a little tardy in acknowledging this, but only hours after my article calling on Obama to bring Sheila Bair into the White House fold, he did, not only asking her to stick around at the FDIC but telling CNBC, "The FDIC and Sheila Bair have had the sense of urgency about the problem [regarding foreclosures] that I want to see.'' Obviously, the transition folks got wind of the piece's imminent publication and acted accordingly. Obviously.

But more to the point, his decision signals that the Obama team is finally taking seriously the role that foreclosure assistance should play in the next round of economic recovery planning. So far the focus has been on spending and tax cuts--vital measures, to be sure, but only two legs of a four-legged chair (the fourth leg, for those who are counting, is regulatory reform). Mortgage foreclosure assistance will only become more important next year, as rising unemployment pushes even responsible homeowners into more dire straits. It remains to be seen whether Bair will get a seat at the table in shaping a forthcoming assistance plan, but at least she gets to stay in the room.

 --Clay Risen

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