E. J. Dionne hearts Rep. Tom Perriello. Perriello was one of the participants in the panel on the future of the middle class where I felt out of place. He was not the Congressman who threw down his pen. But his beliefs seemed impervious to facts. What I most remember him saying is that we will never have good government until we have publicly financed campaigns. You see, it’s not that his economic ideas are backward and uninformed. They are merely opposed by special interests.

Legal Controversy over Foreclosures. The general mood these days is that banks are to blame for everything. And you get the sense that the paperwork got “lost” in the securitization process.

But my reading of the story is that the villains here are lawyers. The ownership and mortgage records are in a central electronic storage facility, known to the industry as MERS. The lawyers are using arbitrary technicalities as an excuse to refuse to acknowledge the validity of those records. (Obviously, I have not examined any of these cases specifically. To the extent that there are instances in which there is evidence that bank X is not the servicer of the mortgage as recorded in MERS, I would have to back down from that statement.)

I suspect that the right public policy is to shut down the legal challenges to MERS unless real errors (as opposed to technicalities) are found. But in a country where lawyers dominate the making of public policy, that is not going to happen.

Ambulance fees would hurt the poor. Another lawyer making a public policy argument.

Brad DeLong should apologize?. We will see lawyers take a modest approach to public policy first.