DMI Blog

Mark Winston Griffith

Let’s Fulfill Spitzer’s Progressive Promise

What a difference a week makes.

Last Tuesday Eliot Spitzer was standing a few feet away from me, announcing his legislative proposal to prevent foreclosures and fight abusive lending in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis. For all his fine moments over the last few years, showing that he had been willing as Attorney General to go toe-to-toe with predatory lenders on Wall Street, this was one of his most impressive. Here, it seemed, the Governor was just starting to escape the rancor that marked his first year in office and follow through on the progressive policy agenda that I and my fellow economic justice advocates yearned for.

Although he mentioned his "Keep the Dream" program, which has had a difficult time living up to its promise of refinancing subprime mortgages, this new plan, which didn't have a name, much less finely honed details, was still exciting: Mandatory pre-foreclosure notices and early settlement conferences in order to give homeowners the opportunity to avoid foreclosure or at least minimize their financial damage; an expansion of the scope and definition of predatory lending; a requirment that lenders determine the borrowers' ability to re-pay, even at the fully indexed rate of the loan; a stated duty for the broker to work in the best interests of the borrower; stepped up mortgage fraud enforcement. If this wasn't an economic justice advocate's dream proposal in response to the subprime mortgage lending crisis, it could certainly lead to that.

Now, "poof", a week later, the man who could have potentially be the Sheriff of Wall Street 2.0, a more powerful and creative version of what we knew before, is gone from public life. But the promise of a progressive vision and agenda that began to appear just before Spitzer self-destructed will hopefully be fulfilled. As Nicholas Kristof said in the New York Times today, let's do as he said, not as he did.

Mark Winston Griffith: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 8:34 AM, Mar 13, 2008 in Economic Opportunity
Permalink | Email to Friend