Posts Tagged ‘congress’

Elizabeth Warren Stops Obama From Signing Foreclosure Friendly Bill

 

You might be wondering why would our government would try to loosen the documentation standards to make it easier for banks to foreclose on homeowners in the the midst of the worst foreclosure crisis in the history of the United States. Yeah, I am wondering about that, too.

See, both houses of congress passed a bill that would have made it easier for banks to foreclose across state lines by easing notarization standards. President Obama was going to sign the bill, too. Another win for the banks who are awash in profits while millions of homeowners flounder under the weight of the sagging economy and the bad loans that Wall Street pushed on them.

Elizabeth Warren who has been given broad authority in shaping the new watchdog agency within the Fed dedicated to making sure that all financial products are safe for the American consumer, and who reports directly to President Obama, persuaded him to veto the bill, and so he did.

Wall Street and the financial industry do not like Ms. Warren. She pulls no punches and tells it like it is. She also understands the plight of the middle class and how hard it is for American families to make it these days and she is the champion of average every day Americans long missing from Obama’s Administration.

More Foreclosure Assistance Provided In Financial Reform Bill

As the financial reform bill continues to make its way through Congress, at least one measure has been hammered out: a plan to combat mortgage foreclosures styled after the Pennsylvania HEMAP program has been approved by both the House and Senate.  I wrote about the HEMAP program in an earlier blog post.

The plan, called HEMA, would take $3 billion from unused TARP funds to provide assistance to homeowners in financial distress.  HEMA will require servicers and lenders to inform homeowners of the program availability before starting the foreclosure process.

If the homeowner is accepted into the program, he or she would make a small payment, based on what is affordable to the HUD and HUD would remit the full payment to the homeowner’s servicer. Payments would continue until the homeowner’s financial problems were resolved, whereupon he or she would resume making the full mortgage payment to the servicer and would also need to repay HUD for the payments advanced.

It is unclear how closely the HEMA program mirrors the HEMAP program, but if it is fairly close, any repayment of advanced monies would be over a long term period of time and capped at a level that is affordable for the homeowner.

The inclusion of a foreclosure assistance program within the financial reform bill is welcome news. Unlike HAMP, the HEMA program will carry the full force of law, which means that servicers and lenders can be forced to comply.

Unemployment Extension Passed Both Houses and Signed by President

The millions of Americans who are depending upon their unemployment checks to pay their bills and put food on the table can rest easier today. A 60 day extension to the time to file for extended benefits in any of the four tiers of benefits available has passed in Congress and has been signed into law by President Obama.

While no additional weeks have been added, this extension would allow anyone who has exhausted a particular tier to move on to the next tier of benefits. The deadline to file is now June 2, and it applies retroactively to April 5th, so any missed benefits will be paid.

Senate Passes 30 Day Unemployment Benefit Extension

With the help of Republican Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, the Senate today passed an amendment that would extend  the EUC program for another thirty days.

Because days were added to the original extension that had already passed by the House,  it now needs to go back to the House for approval there.  Had days not been added, the current extension would be effective for only two weeks.

In the meantime, more and more unemployed Americans are losing their benefits. A longer extension, through the end of the year, is under consideration. Both houses of Congress have passed bills containing an unemployment benefit extension through the end of this year, but have not yet reconciled the two versions of the bills.

200,000 Americans May Lose Unemployment Benefits This Week

Since the Senate failed to pass even a one month extension on Extended Unemployment Compensation (EUC) before adjourning for the Spring recess, over 200,000 people could run out of the unemployment benefits they’re relying on to make ends meet until they find work.

What is sad is that it doesn’t appear that either side, Democrat, or Republican, is against extending the EUC program. The argument is about how it should be paid for. Republicans want it paid by drawing on previously committed stimulus funds. They say that not doing so will grow the deficit and that this is unacceptable.  Democrats argue that doing so would negate the stimulating effect, since it would take away money from another part of the stimulus package.

To be fair to the Democrats, the Republicans did not care much about the deficit when they unanimously voted to pass President Bush’s tax cuts, which were not paid for at all, nor were they concerned about the deficit when they voted to continue funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were also not paid for.  Why they should be so concerned about the deficit now, and over a $9 billion dollar expenditure, which is a drop in the bucket compared to those other things, is baffling.

Congressman Barney Frank Optimistic About Financial Reform Bill

Congressman Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee believes that Congress can deliver a bill for the president’s signature on financial reform at the end of May.

This is despite Republican senator Corker’s statements yesterday that he would not be voting for the bill in its current form. To refresh your memory, he thinks that the current bill offers consumers too much protection from the banks. 

Right now,  the bill is under consideration by the Senate, which must pass its own version before the two versions are reconciled between both houses of the legislature.

Is Congressman Frank right? I guess we’ll see at the end of May.

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