"The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people." Abraham Lincoln
Millions of our Nation's homes are under threat of attack by mortgage foreclosure. We are experiencing the highest rate of unemployment and house the greatest prison population in decades. Isn't it about time We, The People awake from reality TV carb induced fog, and be interested and responsible to learn what is going on around us?
Congress, please, tell us where our (We, The People's) Bailout Billions have gone.... but don't pee on our legs and tell us it's raining....
I'm talking about TARP, the $700,000,000,000 Troubled Asset Relief Program. Taxpayers' (borrowed) money pledged to help millions of at risk homeowners avoid foreclosure and keep their homes.
Has it worked? Well, no. Despite the spending of these funds and more than two trillion by the U.S. Federal Reserve, there were more than 2 million home foreclosures in 2008. If actions speak louder than words, the letters TARP more likely stand for To Assist Rich People. So far, without our permission, our money has been repurposed and redirected. At risk homeowners will have to wait until recipients including Big Banks, Big Auto and Big Insurance have had their helpings... with some, like Bank of America and AIG going back for seconds.
So where has our (We, the Taxpayers') money gone? Not to be accused of sleeping while on duty, a Congressional Oversight Panel, a four person board authorized by Congress and led by consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, is charged with finding out what Treasury has done with the billions it has already spent. "'We are here to ask the questions that we believe all Americans have a right to ask; who got the money, what have they done with it, how has it helped the country and how has it helped "ordinary" people?'"
Huh? Using the term ‘ordinary people' suggest some people are ‘extra-ordinary' as described in Orwell's Animal Farm. "We are all equal... but some are more equal than others....."
The following is a quote taken from Abraham Lincoln's First Annual Message to Congress:
"The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself; then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way to all---gives hope to all, and consequent energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty---none less inclined to take,or touch, aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost."
So far, the Treasury's official response to the Congressional Oversight Panel has pretty much been, "Ah, it's really none of your business..."
It's no secret who the money hasn't helped. While AIG executives languish in luxury thanks to our bailout billions, the "ordinary" folks still wait. Do you recall the Nation's collective sigh of relief when the White House and the supportive fat cat Congress issued the Hope For Homeowners Program? It was introduced to help 400,000 at risk homeowners save their homes. Since its ballyhooed unveiling in late July 08, guess how many homes have been saved? If you guessed ZERO, you would be right. The program was a dismal failure... as many of us in the trenches predicted it would be.
Ah, it's really none of your business..." Bullshit! It's everybody's business because this crisis adversely impacts every person, every house, every neighborhood, every town, every city and every state.
Some of the most challenging issues We, The People face today are ensuring the stability of the residential real estate mortgage market, and the reduction of the rising tide of foreclosure throughout New Jersey, and the Nation. Along with other stakeholders, the Society for Preservation of Continued Homeownership ("SPOCH") a 501c3 nonprofit based in New Jersey for which I serve as the Executive Director has the capacity and experience to help achieve these priorities. How?
Click on Housing Crises Solved
The current bailout philosophy of funding the top and allowing relief to trickle down "to the ordinary people" is the death knoll to families already in foreclosure. The funds ought to be used to immediately STOP thousands of foreclosures WITHOUT REGARD to lender losses, restructure the at-risk loans from unsuitable and non performing, to affordable terms which reflect the property's current, fair market value, and the borrower's demonstrated income.
Hey, Mr. Secretary of the Treasury! If you want results and a return on your money, then LOAN, not give, SPOCH some TARP funds. We'll use it for the public good, repay it, and create jobs, too. Without the overwhelming bureaucratic red tape, and not motivated by corporate profit mandates, I would unilaterally keep homeowners in their homes by cutting out the middle men and dealing instead with at-risk homeowners directly.
You must understand that while Lenders are invited to participate in non foreclosure workout alternatives, NO laws yet exist which require lenders to offer loan workouts to its borrowers. The contract between lender and borrower is pretty straightforward. If the borrower doesn't pay as promised the borrower forfeits the loan's collateral....the house.
Since Lenders are unwilling to help voluntarily, We, The People need to empower (fund) non profits, like SPOCH, to negotiate the purchase of lenders' bad debt at a discount, and then send them packing... and let SPOCH and others like SPOCH solve the nation's housing crises.
Unless and until We, The People demand TARP funds are re-dedicated to the purchase and restructuring of individual loans in foreclosure, and pools of non performing loans, instead of waiting for relief to trickle down from above.... the problem will get worse, much worse, before it begins to get better.