The Treasury Department on Monday agreed to release $100 million from the Troubled Asset Recovery Program, or TARP, to pay for a pilot program to destroy old, vacant buildings in five Michigan cities: Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac, and Saginaw. The money comes from TARP’s “Hardest Hit Fund” which was created "to develop locally tailored foreclosure prevention solutions in areas that have been hard hit by home price declines and high unemployment."
The funds were designed to help prevent foreclosures and keep unemployed and underemployed people in their homes—like helping with mortgage payments and getting underwater homeowners into more affordable mortgages by paying down principal. “But what it was not designed to fund is demolition projects,” The Atlantic’s Sarah Goodyear writes. “But Michigan's leaders argued that if their state was ever to pull out of the decline precipitated by the housing and financial crisis, demolition was the sensible place to start.” - Read more at The Atlantic
OBAMA TO TAP FURMAN FOR TOP ECON POST In an open secret for the past few weeks, Jason Furman will replace Alan Krueger as the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
President Obama is scheduled to announce the transition around 2 p.m. today. The nomination requires Senate confirmation.
Furman worked on the president’s 2008 campaign and has since served as the principal deputy director of the National Economic Council. Before joining the president, he directed the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution and served as a visiting scholar or lecturer at Yale University, Columbia University and New York University. He also worked as a junior economic staffer in the Clinton administration, in addition to time spent as a teenager juggling in New York City for tourists, the skillset that might prove most useful in Washington. - Read more at The Washington Post
TAX REFORM SLOG CONTINUES While they await new information about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups, the House will turn its attention back to reforming the sprawling U.S. tax code.
The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on examining how offshore tax havens have impacted the U.S. tax base. The tax reform discussion will continue on Friday morning when Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) speak about their plans at a public breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. - Read more at The Hill
IMMIGRATION REFORM’S MOMENT OF TRUTH The push for a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system enters its most crucial phase this week in the Senate, where Republicans remain divided over how much to cooperate with President Obama as they try to repair their party’s standing among Hispanic voters, The New York Times’ Michael Shear and Ashley Parker write.
“The final vote in the Senate, which is set to come by the time senators leave for their Fourth of July break, could shape the future of the Republican Party and help determine the political strength of the conservative movement heading into next year’s midterm elections.” Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are anticipating that most of their 54 members will support the legislation, but there are still several red-state Democrats who could likely vote no, including Arkansas’ Mark Pryor, Montana’s Jon Tester and Max Baucus, Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp. - Read more at The New York Times
CRITICS SAY PRISM LACKS OVERSIGHT The Wall Street Journal reports that from 1979 through 2012, the court overseeing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act rejected only 11 of the more than 33,900 surveillance applications by the government, suggesting to critics of programs such as the recently exposed PRISM that there is lax oversight. And of 1,856 applications the Justice Department made in 2012, the court denied none but modified 40, the Justice Department reported. - Read more at The Wall Street Journal
RAND PAUL TO FILE CLASS ACTION AGAINST OBAMA Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plans to file a class action lawsuit against the Obama administration for its “unconstitutional” surveillance programs. On “Fox News Sunday,” Paul said he wants to get the support of 10 million Americans. “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level,” Paul said, according to a rush transcript. “I’m going to be asking all the Internet providers and all of the phone companies, ask your customers to join me in a class action lawsuit. If we get 10 million Americans saying we don’t want our phone records looked at, then somebody will wake up and say things will change in Washington.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times