The Bush administration has steadfastly opposed direct assistance to homeowners caught up in the subprime mortgage mess. Instead, the administration is relying on voluntary negotiation between mortgage lenders and imperiled homeowners to help Americans stay in their homes. This is unlikely to be effective given the continued resistance of mortgage service companies and the lenders and investors they work for to voluntarily help struggling homeowners restructure their mortgage payments. It is also, as is all too common with the policies of this administration, completely out of step with the public’s views on the issue.
Consider the results of a new Los Angeles Times poll. The poll finds that the public supports federal government assistance to homeowners “caught between rising mortgage payments and falling home values” by well over 2:1—60 percent to 25 percent.
The same poll finds that the public believes, also by over 2:1 (56 percent to 27 percent), that Wall Street should be regulated more aggressively to prevent problems like the current home foreclosure crisis.
Finally, the public says by 3:1 (63 percent to 21 percent) that lack of regulation is partly responsible for the current financial and housing crisis.
The public’s views are very clear: It’s time to help homeowners and fix the system so that such painful problems are avoided in the future. Therefore, it’s also time for Congress to move forward on the various bills now before it that would accomplish these goals. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) have crafted legislation with bipartisan support to help responsible homeowners caught up in the foreclosure crisis, alongside necessary financial support for communities hit hardest by the crisis so that they can combat the foreclosure blight afflicting their neighborhoods.
This is the right way to go. The American public expects Congress to act. And the poll numbers indicate the public would clearly reject the president’s threatened veto of this legislation.