Sunday, October 17, 2010

A leftover from before the trip

I can almost see the tear in his eye, the quiver in his voice as he cries out in his emotional pain "The child- I mean, the banks! Think of the banks!"
A top White House adviser questioned the need [last] Sunday for a blanket national stoppage of all home foreclosures, even as pressure grows on the Obama administration to do something about mounting evidence that banks have used inaccurate documents to evict homeowners.

"It is a serious problem," said David Axelrod, who contended that the flawed paperwork is hurting the U.S. housing market as well as lending institutions. But he added, "I'm not sure about a national moratorium because there are in fact valid foreclosures that probably should go forward" because their documents are accurate.
Leave aside for the moment the fact that Axelrod expressed concern about the housing market and the banks - but not the homeowners being wrongfully evicted. Rather, consider that the specific purpose of the sort of moratorium being proposed is to stop things long enough to separate out the "valid" foreclosures from those based on incompetence or outright fraud. What that means is that what Axelrod is actually suggesting is that we knowingly allow the bogus foreclosures to continue until some unknown future time when the "flawed paperwork" is straightened out, although lacking a moratorium, it's hard to see what the incentive is for the banks and their partners in crime - excuuuuse me, "flawed paperwork" - to act with any alacrity.

Ultimately, though, isn't Axelrod's argument rather like saying we shouldn't have laws against, say, passing bad checks because, after all, some checks are legitimate?

Footnote: One little bit of good news on this front is that a week ago Obama vetoed a bill that would have
require[d] courts to accept as valid document notarizations made out of state, making it harder to challenge the authenticity of foreclosure and other legal documents. ...

The legislation could protect bank and mortgage processors from liability for false or improperly prepared documents.
The bill had been passed twice by the House only to die in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It appeared to be headed for the same fate this time. However,
[a]fter languishing for months in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill passed the Senate with lightning speed and with hardly any public awareness of the bill's existence on Sept. 27, the day before the Senate recessed for midterm election campaign. ...

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pressed to have the bill rushed through the special procedure [by which the bill is discharged from the Judiciary Committe and passed by unanimous consent], after Leahy "constituents" called him and pressed for passage.

[Senate] staffers [familiar with the actions] said they didn't know who these constituents were....
Any guesses?

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