Las Vegas Sun

December 21, 2014

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Sun Editorial:

Romney, GOP fail to see Americans’ need for help in foreclosure crisis

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got in trouble recently when he came to Nevada and started talking about housing. Nevada has the highest foreclosure rate in the country, and Romney, a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, showed little sense of compassion or desire to help ease the foreclosure crisis.

In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Romney said “the key thing for me is let the market do its work. Get the foreclosures washed through the system ... let the market rebound from the bottom that it hits, and get people back into homes.”

In other words, Romney doesn’t want the government involved but instead wants the market left on its own. And he wants it to move quickly by having foreclosures “washed through the system,” meaning even more foreclosures.

Romney is not alone proposing a hands-off approach to the foreclosure crisis. Arguing to let the market “do its work” has become something of a conservative mantra. Nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates have said similar things.

Conservatives are loath to talk about any type of government help or intervention. They have offered a number of economic explanations about how letting the market work supposedly makes sense, but does anyone see a problem with leaving the market on its own to correct itself? After all, it was the market — fueled by lax oversight — that got the country into this mess with its risky practices. The result is that millions of Americans have faced job loss and foreclosure.

And the idea that foreclosures need to be “washed through the system” quickly is ludicrous. Did the Republican presidential candidates fail to notice what happened as the banks scrambled to foreclose on properties? There were serious problems. In Nevada, for example, state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has alleged that one major bank essentially railroaded homeowners, ignoring its own procedures to foreclose on properties when it didn’t have the right to do so.

What makes the Republican presidential candidates’ advocacy of a hands-off approach even more troubling is that it leaves consumers with nowhere to turn. Wall Street made billions in profits by breaking and bending the rules, and Americans are paying the price. It is galling that the Republican approach would only further this injustice. This is the time government should be involved.

Nevadans understand how devastating the situation is. In addition to the highest rate of foreclosure, the state also has the highest rate of unemployment.

President Barack Obama was in Las Vegas last week to unveil his plan to help ease the foreclosure crisis. The plan will allow people who owe more than their home is worth, or who have a small amount of equity, to refinance. To qualify, the mortgages have to be owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and homeowners have to be current with their loans and have a strong record of making payments on time.

Estimates say as many as 2 million homes could qualify, and critics have tried to dismiss the plan, saying it won’t help much, if at all. The plan certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s at least a step in the right direction — and it’s more than anyone else has offered.

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  1. President Obama's plan already fails before leaving the gate. It does not help those like me who have struggled making payments as my salary was frozen then reduced, and those who do not have Freddie or Fannie Mac loans. It is a gesture, a dewdrop in the bucket.

    And not much has been done to those WALL STREET entities responsible for this mess, in fact, they are still having record profits! It is obvious WHO CONTROLS the economy and their intents to carry on, immune from government interference.

  2. first, it was not 'the market--fueled by lax ovesight--that got the country into this mess'! It was MISregulation of those who always know best, the same guys who can fix this problems: THE GOVERNMENT! It was the Justice Dept suing banks to force them to make poor loans(can't have 'racism' in housing loans, can we?); it was HUD re-writing the rules to make govt aid, 'income'(can't discriminate against where the money comes from, now can we?); it was community groups (can you say ACORN)giving support to those in return for more Freddie and Fannie money spurred on by lawyers with eyes on the country: Barry Obama! And by the way all this took place under BILL CLINTON! So NO the market didn't do it. GOVERNMENT did. Wall street did not bend the rules the govt changed the rules because it KNEW better how to run the market than the market did. SURPRISE govt has no idea what the problem is and no idea how to run a lemonade stand let alone the housing market. The HUBRIS of govt is laughable and the cause of most if not all of mankinds problems.

    Second, yes we all need help. But how do you help someone without hurting others? How do you give money to someone who is just barely making it without affecting those who are making it. And don't tell me that taxing millionares (actually everyone over $250000) will not affect anyone else. The govt should have stayed out of things back in 1937 but just couldn't bring itself to believe that they didn't KNOW better how to run things. It should have stayed out of things in the 90's but wanted to boast about increased home ownership and knew that they wouldn't be around to be blamed for the burst that was trully to come.
    For the same reason the govt should stay out now--not because people are unfeeling--but because the govt will just muck it up:AGAIN. How? part of the plan is to help people keep houses they can't afford, right? And part of it is to get people into foreclosed homes that they cannot afford to 'stabalize the market', right? How did this thing start again? Obama CANNOT fix the problem because he refuses to understand the problem is govt action and reaction to things it simply cannot control; he is the problem.

    just some thoughts that may help?!?
    Those that do not learn from history are doomed to relive it.
    FDR (AND ALL LIBERALS) wishes he had been around at creation becuase he would have had some helpful suggestions to give God on how things should work!
    Men plan and the gods laugh!
    Don't blame the steak for killing you if you use cyanide as seasoning--don't blame the market for the misregulation of govt.
    Whom the gods would destroy they first make drunk with power.

  3. Apparently the Sun does not remember that there are 15 Pub bills on the economy waiting for the Reid Senate to vote upon. The Pubs have plenty of real free enterprise answers but the snarky, smarmy Reid will not bring them up for an up or down vote. The House should still keep passing laws that would aid all Americans and then educate the populace with ads telling them to ask Reid and Obama to please sign the House bills passed.

  4. Government got us into this mess. Government now must step aside and let us clean it up, but he people who made the mess - love the mess they have made and want to keep it messed up. Are you listening harry and shelly?

  5. I think that you ought to actually read those "15" "Jobs" bills. I've read 3 of the 15th, and for those 3 snakey seems an understatement.

    HR 1904 would swap a body of copper (apparently quite large and rich) on federal land for some other land even and limit or eliminate the usual royalties payable to the Treasury for mining on public land -- and, at the same time, operate to allow the mining company to extract -- without restriction -- any copper or other minerals on the lands they would be swapping to the federal government. The swap would be a swap in name only and the limitation of mineral royalties is a raid on the Treasury for private gain. This stinks of corrupt transfer of public funds and public property for political support. It does probably help protect a Congressman's job -- and of course, the jobs of his staff.

    HR 647 deals with the standards for ERISA Actuaries. It is difficult to imagine that there might be enough demand for ERISA Actuaries so that reducing or eliminating standards for their education, training, and experience would yield a substantial decrease in unemployment. It is also difficult to see how eliminating a 3% backup withholding for these folks who do their work under government contracts would reduce the unemployment rate.

    HR 4, which has passed into law, eliminates 1099s on payments to corporations and for certain property transactions. This keeps open a huge hole -- one which is not a loophole, but absolute tax evasion -- one which has significantly reduced the revenues of the U.S. (We complain about Deficits, but Heaven Forbid is actually doing something that would actually reduce it in real time.)

    3 of the "job creating" bills are free trade treaties which have since been approved by the Senate, but which open more holes in the sieve we call The American Economy.

    I'm hoping the rest of these "job creating" House resolutions are not as lame as these. But I think no one should be repeating the Rs propaganda lines until they have read each one and understood its role -- or lack thereof -- in "job creation."

  6. So, it's OK, in the current Republican mantra, for the government to bailout the wealthy, the banks, and the corporations, but not homeowners? I love the hypocrisy. In the current Republican world, the free market works, until it hurts the wealthy, the banks, or the corporations. When *they* are hurt, then the current group of Republicans loves big government.

    Once the US Government, under George W. Bush, chose to go down the bank bailout road with TARP, the government had to bailout all sides of the mortgage transaction for the whole Ponzi scheme to succeed. TARP interfered with the natural bankruptcy process and tilted the free market system firmly in the direction of the banks. Instead of having to work to make loan portfolios perform, the banks could just take foreclosure losses and go crying to the US Government or Federal Reserve for "more capital". The threat of an ugly bank collapse is a great motivator to get mortgage lenders to renegotiate.

    I don't buy the story that the government earned a profit from TARP, either. Sure, the funds specifically allocated to TARP were, largely, repaid, but that amount doesn't include the stealth tax of 0% Federal Reserve loans to the banks or other assistance in the form of corporate tax breaks, stimulus, and social safety nets costs.

    If we want to fix this economy, short of having a revolution, the homeowners have to be helped in an equal manner to the banks, which will bring the capitalistic forces around the mortgage situation back into balance. Homeowners, especially those who've been making regular payments throughout this crisis, have nothing more to give.

    Of course, the end result is a further destruction of the value of the US dollar and a further reduction of the US living standard. Taxes will have to go up, especially for the wealthy who benefitted from TARP, and government services, including Defense, will have to be cut. The US will have to adopt a much less agressive foreign policy and live within its means.

    TARP is going to go down in history as one of those turning points, like the Iraq War, where everything started to go badly.

    The really sad part is that I've been a lifelong, free market Republican. I can probably count, on one hand, the number of times I've voted for a Democrat and the current President was not one of them. However, somewhere along the way, the Republican Party lost its way. The free market works, when it applies to all sides of a transaction, equally, which isn't what happened here. Now, we are left with bad choices. Look around, people, the crowd is getting very ugly and the current crop of mainstream Republican candidates seems tone deaf to the problems of the Middle Class.

  7. Anyone who votes Republican and makes less than 250k and has less than 10 million in cash, should see a good doctor. The Republican Party represent the Top 1% of Wall Street and the top 6 Banks - and they are Proud of It. They even have a gullible electorate that thinks they are working for the country. As for Reid not bringing a Bill before the Senate - remember every single Republican (and you need only 40) will filibuster anything they think may help the country create jobs so they can get One Job for themselves.