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Public Statements

Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, have I ever told you about my dog, Max? I don't think I have. Let me just take a minute and tell you about Max.

Like a lot of us who are fathers of younger children, I have four children, who approached me, Mr. Speaker, and begged me and begged me and begged me to get them a dog. And for years I was able to avoid eye contact and was able to keep an animal out of my house. But, finally, in a moment of weakness, I said yes.

And a friend of mine, Mr. Speaker, realized what was happening, and he pulled me aside and he said, ``Look, if you're going to get a dog, realize this: You get what you pet.'' You get what you pet. So if a dog comes in and it's disobedient and you pet that dog and give it all kinds of affirmation, then guess what. It's going to keep being disobedient. And not being very wise, we started to do that, and so now we've got a slightly out-of-control dog.

Now, why do I mention Max? We're on the verge of doing that same type of conduct exactly to people who have fundamentally made some bad decisions. Let's take the borrowers aside, and I realize the chairman has worked hard, but let's take the borrowers aside and just put them in a different category because what we're going to be doing today, in addition to helping borrowers, is really bailing out lenders. And I don't think that's an overcharacterization. I don't think that's an unfair way of looking at this. We are being told that lenders who were in this, who are great advocates of the free market when they're making money, they love the free market when they're making money, and now all of a sudden, they are coming to the Federal taxpayer and saying this has gotten a little bit more complicated than we thought, and now we want the taxpayers to come in and take care of this from here out. It's voluntary on the part of the lenders, and think about how voluntary that would be. What a great invitation. These lenders go and they say here's our pile of bad debt. Let's take a haircut, 85 percent of the value, shove that off to the FHA, which is pretty ill equipped, I might add, to take on this obligation--let's shove that off to the taxpayer, and instead of getting our heads chopped off as lenders, we're just going to get a haircut.

I think we can do a lot better, I think, over a period of time.

There is a great willingness, Mr. Speaker, on this side of the aisle to try and work creatively and to try and work substantively on solutions. But I think as we reflect back on this, in the chairman's own words, it is going to cost $5,000 for every defaulted mortgage that is assumed by the FHA, times a half million. That gets us to the $2.5 billion figure that makes many of us cringe.

And I don't think that those types of numbers should be allocated to lenders and bailing out lenders who made bad decisions.

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