Patrick Caldwell

Patrick Caldwell is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Richard Shelby Can't Make Up His Mind

The lead CFPB opponent wasn't always against the idea of a single director.

(Flickr/Medill DC)
Republicans haven't been shy about voicing their distaste for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many opposed the very creation of the new federal regulator created under the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. Yet no element of the CFPB has quite raised their ire as much as the structure of the agency. Unlike many other federal regulators (SEC, CFTC, FDIC to name a few) CFPB rules are not dictated by a board of commissioners; instead the agency's director has sole discretion on finalizing regulations. Republicans reject this as a sign of too much power in one unelected office. In May 2011, 44 Republican senators penned a letter to President Obama vowing to filibuster any nominee to head the agency unless the CFPB was reformed to mirror other bank regulators. They held true to their word, blocking Richard Cordray's nomination as CFPB director until President Obama used a recess appointment to put Cordray in charge this past January. Few have been as resistant as Alabama Senator Richard...

Poll Spells Trouble for Iowa Judge

(Flickr/Serdar Kaya)
It looks like another Iowa Supreme Court justice may lose his job this year. Conservatives are once again railing against one of the judges who legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent social conservative on the local scene who led an anti-retention campaign against three of the state's supreme court justices in 2010, announced last month that he was spearheading an effort to make sure David Wiggins doesn't succeed at the polls this November. A Public Policy Polling survey from last week indicates that Vander Plaats's plan is working. Among likely Iowa voters, 38 percent would like to retain Wiggins, while another 38 percent want to send him home. While at first glance that tie might seem positive for Wiggins—in 2010 two of his colleagues lost by 8 percent, one by a ten-point margin—the dynamics don't favor Wiggins. Many of those likely voters supporting Wiggins might not vote in the retention election—judicial retention votes were...

Ryan's Speech Lays on the Charm, Drops the Plan

Paul Ryan might be a familiar pretty face among the wonky set, but for most voters he is an unknown figure, a minor House representative from someplace in the middle of the country whose name they first encountered at the start of the month. His primetime premiere at the GOP convention last night was supposed to be his coming out moment, an occasion to sell voters on the idea that he is a leader they can see leading the country. Instead, Ryan revealed that he cannot escape the conservative think tank culture that spawned him. It is sure to satisfy the rightwingers who filled the convention hall in Tampa, but the vice=presidential candidate offered little of substance or style for those yet to be decided voters. Typically these convention speeches serve two purposes: building a narrative of one's life story and spinning a vision on the purpose of government. Ryan failed in both directions. He barely touched upon his personal biography. There were the requisite shout-outs to his wife,...

Foreclosure Free-For-All

The CFPB is getting resistance from its allies on proposed mortgage policies. 

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
It's almost four years since the economy cratered, yet 11 million homes—accounting for 23 percent of all outstanding mortgages— remain underwater. The Obama administration's efforts to shore up the housing market by offering incentives for refinancing, rather than the government directly purchasing loans, has been an utter failure ; countless homeowners have been left desperately negotiating with their lenders to modify the terms of their loan and more often than not, being tossed onto the street by mortgage servicers. Servicers are the companies that process mortgage payments; they're also the point of contact should something go amiss, resolving a defaulted mortgage by either restructuring the loan or beginning foreclosure proceedings. During normal times, servicers could better handle the requests of an occasional delinquent borrower. When the avalanche fell in 2009 and a massive pool of customers could no longer make the monthly payments, the incentives shifted, often...

Climate Changes the GOP Convention

August hasn't been too kind to Mitt Romney. He started the month trying to recover from a summer jaunt abroad at the end of July, which was supposed to be an easy string of photo-ops but turned into a Griswoldian comedy of errors. It all might have been forgotten if the running-mate rollout went well. But that didn’t happen, with Paul Ryan receiving the lowest approval rating among voters since Dan Quayle. The bad news didn't stop there. Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, a former nobody, caused a stir on Sunday by saying that rape did not lead to pregnancy, forcing the Romney campaign to tread into abortion politics—territory Mitt typically shies away from. To top it all off, major newspapers have finally starting to take note of Romney's lies on policy matters. Add it all up, and it explains why the former Massachusetts governor still can't break the 45 percent barrier in national polls. Nate Silver puts Obama as a 67 percent favorite in November, and the Prospect 's...