Who says bipartisanship is dead? From President Bush to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, to Mitt Romney and John McCain, virtually everyone in Washington agrees: The government must Do Something to stop home foreclosures across the country. These leaders agree on the total presumption of homeowner innocence. The borrower-as-victim and lender-as-predator storylines are etched in stone. Can't let reality get in the way of election-year pander-monium.
Special guests at the State of the Union address are usually extraordinary heroes, entrepreneurs or citizens who've gone above and beyond the call of duty. On Monday night, one of those guests was an Indiana woman whose claim to fame is that she called a 1-800 number and was assisted by the "Hope Now Alliance," a group Bush convened, which, according to him, "is helping many struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure."
Subprime victims are the new heroes. Welcome to the politics of foreclosure.
Housing Czarina Hillary immediately jumped on the president's address and on news that foreclosure rates skyrocketed 79 percent over the last year. She reiterated her call for "a 90-day foreclosure moratorium on subprime mortgages and a 5-year freeze in rates on subprime loans." Borrowers who knowingly bought more house than they could pay for have no place in Hillary's world. "It is indisputable that brokers and mortgage companies lured families into mortgages that were designed to end in foreclosure," she stated in a Denver Post questionnaire this week.
Continuing the theme of duped borrowers, Sen. Chuck Schumer is crusading for more federally subsidized "mortgage counseling." He wants $200 million more, in addition to the $180 million for "Housing Counseling Assistance" that he helped stick into the omnibus spending bill last year. A significant portion of that will go to government-approved counselors affiliated with left-wing activist groups such as La Raza and ACORN.
I certainly have sympathy for borrowers who may have been misled. But for every "predatory lender" out there, you can find a predatory borrower. For every fraud-minded loan officer or mortgage broker, you can find a homeowner who secured financing and bought a home he knew he couldn't afford with little money down and bogus or no income verification. Washington is silent about this reckless behavior, which it is encouraging both tacitly and explicitly.