President Obama’s announcement Wednesday of a multi-pronged initiative on the housing front that includes a new investigation of illegal mortgage practices and some relief for “under water” borrowers ran into immediate catcalls from the usual suspects. That would be Republicans in Congress and the front-running candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney. But some Democrats, particularly in California, are also not happy.
In addition, critics who have closely followed the efforts to get a mortgage settlement from financial institutions involved in abusive lending practices, including over-the-line foreclosure shenanigans, continue to believe that the deal will not be nearly tough enough. Some fear the assignment of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to co-chair a new Department of Justice probe of the foreclosures scandal is an attempt to neuter one of the fiercest proponents of a tough settlement with the banks.
A big problem is that some elements of the initiative would require congressional action. That would be difficult any time on any issue given the current make-up of the House of Representatives. But chances for approval in an election year? Nil. That’s not idle speculation:
“This is not a serious plan to help the nation’s housing market,” Rep. Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement. “This is just more of the same from an administration that offers expensive program after expensive program, none of which have worked to help struggling homeowners.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) told reporters that “none of these programs have worked … I don’t know why anyone would think that this next idea is going to work.””One more time? One more time? How many times have we done this?” he asked reporters. “I don’t know why anyone would think that this next idea is going to work.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation, and 28 other California Democrats in Congress—from blue dogs to leftists, signed onto a statement saying the president’s proposals were “encouraging” but did not go far enough.
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