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Tauscher, other local Dems praise foreclosure bill

By Josh Richman
Thursday, March 5th, 2009 at 7:09 pm in Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, General, housing, John Boehner, Lynn Woolsey, U.S. House.

New Democrat Coalition chairwoman Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has been getting no love from the liberal netroots – see here, here and here for examples – over her role in H.R. 1106, the foreclosure-prevention legislation. That didn’t stop her from expressing joy as the bill passed the House today on a 234-191 vote.

“I am pleased that the House approved the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. This is one component of a very large effort to stabilize the housing market and limit the number of home foreclosures in California and across the country,” she said in a statement issued this afternoon. “Accessible and sustainable loan modifications are essential to getting millions of families the tools they need to stay in their homes.”

Her news release said she “played a leading role in improving the bill, which is a key part of President Obama’s Making Home Affordable program, so that homeowners can first and foremost access a loan modification plan and, allowing homeowners in the most dire of circumstances, to seek relief through bankruptcy as a last resort.” She also “inserted language into the bill to prevent homeowners who can afford their loans from abusing the system by filing for bankruptcy just to capitalize on falling real estate prices,” the release said.

Other, more liberal Bay Area House members gave the bill similarly rosy reviews. Read ‘em, plus the GOP’s take, after the jump…

From Congressional Black Caucus chairwoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“The roots of the current economic crisis are grounded in the housing market and the greedy lending practices of the banks. Many of us warned about this impending housing crisis years ago. As a member of the Financial Services committee for eight years, I remember expressing my concern about the housing bubble and the subprime loans that were fueling it and the consequences to our economy if the bubble popped.

“But our warnings fell on deaf ears. When we tried to encourage the banks to participate in voluntary foreclosure prevention programs to help families in distress, they balked and made every excuse to avoid participating.

“Then the economy tanked and they begged us for a bail out. Now millions more families are threatened with bankruptcy and foreclosure. That’s why we are taking this step today, to restore some equity to our bankruptcy laws to allow judicial modifications of mortgages on primary residences and to help keep families in their homes.

“I applaud the improvements to the Hope for Homeowners program that are also included in this legislation. We had to address the low rate of participation in this voluntary program and I know that the improvements included here will provide many more homeowners with a way to work out new, affordable mortgages and to continue making their mortgage payments.

“Passing this bill will be an important step in stabilizing the housing markets because not only will we help families protect their homes and their assets during this economic crisis, we will strengthen our entire banking system by making permanent the increase in the FDIC insurance limits to $250,000. This will protect the savings of every American and will increase confidence in the banking systems both here and abroad.”

From Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma:

“Across the country millions of hard working families are facing foreclosure, and every day we’re seeing this crisis’ increasing impact here in Marin and Sonoma counties. The dream of homeownership is turning into a nightmare for local families, and many more have seen steady declines in their home’s value. This crisis threatens all of us, our neighbors, and our communities. Foreclosed properties drag down the values of nearby homes, leading to a decrease in tax revenue for local governments who are already struggling to provide basic services such as adequate police and fire protection.”

[snip]

“Stabilizing home values is essential to keeping people in their homes, restoring our economy and stopping this current freefall. That’s why this legislation is so important. It provides a positive approach to confronting what is really a major challenge for both borrowers and lenders, and works with President Obama’s plan to get our housing market up and running again.”

From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“The collapse of the subprime mortgage market has put millions of families in danger of losing their homes. This bill will help those struggling to pay their mortgage in rough economic times, and will not cost the taxpayer a single dollar. The legislation will decrease the number of foreclosures by 20% and help put a floor on plummeting home prices.”

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, D-Ohio:

“Owning a home is the heart and soul of the American Dream, and Republicans believe that we need to help families who acted responsibly stay in their homes. But this legislation doesn’t do that. What it really does is punish those who played by the rules to subsidize those who didn’t. Democrats even defeated a Republican proposal that would have protected taxpayers from bailing out those who lied on their mortgage applications. No wonder we are seeing more and more ‘taxpayer tea parties’ taking place all across America. Taxpayers are fed up with what they are seeing in Washington.

“This legislation forces taxpayers to reward irresponsible behavior – including lying about income on a mortgage application – and will prolong the housing crisis. By letting bankruptcy judges rewrite a mortgage through the controversial ‘cramdown’ process, it gives a pass to the small percentage of borrowers who made bad decisions and adds more uncertainty to a market that desperately needs some stability. This will undermine measures taken to unfreeze credit and will lead to higher mortgage costs for all borrowers.

“Nine out of every 10 homeowners are playing by the rules and making their payments. Republicans believe those who acted responsibly and need help should get it, but we should not bail out scam artists by forcing taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior. It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to work together on a better solution to preserve the American Dream for those who play by the rules.”

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