Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blamed Wall Street for the increase in home foreclosures and called for a $5 billion-plus "home protection" plan and tighter housing market regulations Wednesday.
“Wall Street not only enabled, but often encouraged, reckless lending," Clinton said at the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square.
In Manhattan, Clinton pitched a plan to protect borrowers who took out unaffordable home loans that are causing a $10 trillion upset in the domestic housing market. Low-interest “teaser” mortgage rates are scheduled to reset at higher rates through 2008, increasing payments for some by thousands of dollars, and more than 500,000 homeowners could lose their homes.
Swing states Florida, Nevada, California, Michigan and Ohio are among those states being hit hardest by foreclosures.
To stop this Clinton wants a 90-day "timeout" on foreclosures, a five-year interest freeze on mortgage payments for subprime borrowers, a federal licensing program for mortgage brokers and a requirement for the mortgage industry to submit monthly status reports to the government.
Clinton would also like to establish a $5 billion fund for things like “safety net housing” and home loan subsidies to help borrowers make their monthly payments.
CNBC host Maria Bartiromo asked Clinton in a televised interview Wednesday afternoon where the money would come from. Clinton said, “It’s going to come from where it comes from, from the budget, from emergency spending” and that it should be thought of as an economic stimulus package.
Bartiromo also asked “What’s to stop someone from gaming the system…the person who did all the wrong things by getting in over their head?”
Clinton told her, “There are some people who, in your words, would be considered to game the system, but the overall problem is so big that I don’t think we can be focused on the few that might benefit unjustifiably.”
In Clinton’s eyes, Wall Street is responsible for the foreclosure crisis, not those who signed expensive loans. “Wall Street helped create the foreclosure crisis, and Wall Street needs to help solve it,” she in her speech to Wall Street.
Clinton warned if investors would not agree to her plan to freeze foreclosures, she would require them to by law. “If we cannot reach a voluntary agreement [with Wall Street], I will consider legislation to address the problem,” she said.
To sweeten her offer, she said she’d give “legal protection” to those who went along with the plan. “I am prepared to consider giving legal protection to servicers and others who administer these loans and who do the right thing by balancing the interests of the homeowners, the investors, and our economy,” Clinton said.
President Bush is scheduled to make a speech about the housing crisis and offer his own relief plan Thursday.