It's incompatible with the health of our democracy to allow wealthy and powerful people off the hook after they have caused massive and widespread
So it's deeply troubling that the Obama administration is pressuring state attorneys general to quickly cut a deal with the banks that lets them off
the hook for massive amounts of mortgage and foreclosure fraud.
Representative Tammy Baldwin is pushing back and has introduced a resolution in Congress that supports taking a tough line with the banks.
The more Democratic members of Congress who co-sponsor it, the stronger the message it will send to President Obama that he cannot give Wall Street a
"get out of jail free" card for mortgage and foreclosure fraud.
The Baldwin resolution already has 31 co-sponsors.
Not one of the Wall Street crooks who drove our economy off a cliff has gone to jail. And without aggressive investigation and prosecution of
misconduct, none of them will.
Yet the Obama administration is pushing for a deal between state attorneys general and the large mortgage firms that essentially revolves around how
lightly the banks would get off.
There has been no real investigation, and no real push for meaningful penalties or accountability. In many ways, the settlement terms under
consideration would amount to another backdoor bailout for the banks.
This is unacceptable.
Rep. Baldwin's resolution has three tenets:
(1) The mortgage servicers who engaged in fraudulent behavior should not be granted criminal or civil immunity for potential wrongdoing related to
illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices.
(2) The Federal Government and State attorneys general should proceed with full investigations into claims of fraudulent behavior by mortgage
(3) Any financial settlement reached with mortgage servicers should appropriately compensate for, and accurately reflect, the extent of harm to
all victims, including homeowners and State pension beneficiaries, caused by the mortgage servicers' fraudulent behavior.
What's on the table now — and what the Obama administration is pressuring the states to accept — falls far short of these standards.
While the Baldwin resolution itself is non-binding, a large number of Democratic co-sponsors will do two things. First it will make it harder to spin
a terrible settlement deal as a victory, which itself makes a deal less likely. Second, by establishing criteria for what an acceptable settlement
might look like, it helps demonstrate the inadequacy of what's on the table.
We need to put the brakes on the headlong rush by state attorneys general and the Obama administration to settle with the banks.
The largest banks that caused the housing crisis that led to our economic meltdown should be investigated fully, punished to the full extent of the
law, and forced to compensate their victims for the harm they caused. The Obama administration shouldn't be pushing for anything less.
I have called my member of Congress in support of the Baldwin resolution. I hope you do, too.
Text of H. Con. Res. 85