Mark Winston Griffith
Mortgage Reform: A Dream Deferred?
It's come to this. Once the modest hope of the financial justice advocacy world, HR 3915, The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007, has slipped considerably in the estimation of many of its former supporters. The New York Times, which has been remarkably astute in it's editorial critiques of the subprime mortgage crisis and was once a champion of H.R. 3915, was last seen in a November 15 editorial threatening to abandon ship because of all of the amendments that have severely weakened the bill:
"Industry has already scored some regrettable victories. It persuaded the bill's backers to include a provision that would prevent borrowers from suing Wall Street firms in state court - - where consumer protections are often stronger - - for common abusive loan practices. If Congress truly wants to protect consumers, rather than kowtow to the mortgage industry, lawmakers must resist further efforts to cripple the bill and pass a number of essential amendments before the final vote...The House bill could help to ensure that the unfolding debacle is not repeated, but only if lawmakers insist on putting the interests of American consumers first. "
Yesterday, some of the most progressive consumer protection organizations in the country, like the National Consumer Law Center, followed suit, withholding their support, insisting that Congress reverse the bill's present course:
"The bill insulates those that hold the loans, the very parties that funded these abusive
products and created a market for predatory loans. Moreover, there are multiple hoops through which the
homeowner has to jump to obtain any redress for violations of these new federal protections against
securitizers or other parties, and these are primarily limited to borrowers already in foreclosure. Most
importantly, the various safe harbors in the bill provide little or no incentive for the market to change."
There you have it. The story of a bill that once spoke of change, now chemically re-engineered to keep the status quo firmly in place.