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A Curious Concurrence of Interests?

by Matt DiCharia, May 16, 2008

ForeclosureDoing some research on the housing market, I ran across an article from The Wall Street Journal about a political battle over how the government should address the collapse of the subprime mortgage market.

The article, Mortgage Bailout Infuriates Tenants (And Steve Forbes),” focuses on identifying the sponsors of, a site designed to mobilize renters against a federal bailout for lenders and homeowners who have been affected by the rampant foreclosures.

The article refers to as an AstroTurf political movement. A play on the political term grass-roots’ which refers to the organic, bottom-up organizing brand of political action, an AstroTurf movement seeks to reap the benefits from being perceived as a grass-roots campaign, but is created or backed by Washington power brokers. is indeed a project of FreedomWorks, a grassroots advocacy organization founded in 1984 to fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom,” led by former House Majority leader Dick Armey and publishing magnate Steve Forbes.

Does the fact that these wealthy homeowners lead delegitimize the site’s efforts to mobilize renters against a federal bailout for lenders and homeowners?

Rich Toscano, who was quoted in the article as a renter and creator of Professor Piggington’s Econo-Almanac for the Landed Poor, feels the importance of the message is of greater importance than who started the movement.

Indeed, it seems that getting people informed and involved in political action, especially when it is often very difficult for citizens to be aware of what goes on in Washington, is a noble cause, regardless of sponsor.

Though the origin and backers of surely play a significant role, shouldn’t the Wall Street Journal also find it expedient to provide summaries and implications of H.R. 5830and S. 2636, the bills in question?

What do you think?

Are Steve Forbes and the folks at FreedomWorks legitimate advocates for renters and renting issues? Are there more truly grass-roots renters-rights groups that we should know about and highlight?

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