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Public Statements

House Crisis

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, it's over time for Wall Street megabanks, their CEOs, speculators, and sharpies to come and scrub the floors of homeless shelters across this country that are crammed with people who have lost their homes. Let's make those Wall Street bankers sign up to work with Habitat for Humanity to restore housing in neighborhoods across our Nation. Wouldn't that be sweet justice? Once they've paid back the billions that they owe the American people, whose homes they've raided of equity, let's put them to work.

Wouldn't it be great to see the CEO of Goldman Sachs, I think his name is Lloyd Blankfein, out there with buckets and scrub brushes? Come to Toledo; come to Cleveland; come to America, the part you've hurt so deeply. Wouldn't it be great? Let him be joined by Josh Bolten, who was there when the Bush administration handed the toxic mortgage paper to the people of the United States.

Well, come on down, Angelo Mozilo, from Countrywide. I think a little hard work would help you a whole lot. How about Bank of America? How about the CEO there? How about JPMorgan Chase? How about Jamie Dimon? I wonder when was the last time he scrubbed a floor. How about Jim Johnson, who headed up Fannie Mae, or Hank Paulson? Oh, I'd love to see this.

As I speak, coming to light are important developments in the much anticipated settlement between the individual State governments and the big Wall Street banks over the widespread use of fraudulent schemes and missing paperwork that fueled the foreclosure crisis. As the press has reported, we are seeing the possible imposition of $25 billion in penalties against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Ally Financial and Citigroup. Given the extent of the damage they caused, it's a small start. Just in Ohio, the financing gap was $20 billion. That's what it would take to stabilize the housing market in just our State.

Most importantly, The New York Times is reporting that the deals will ``preserve the right to investigate past misdeeds by the bank.'' Not one, not even the titans of Wall Street, should be able to buy legal immunity for their criminal acts as millions of families lose their homes.

It is important that we do not forget how systemic mortgage fraud has become. In an interview given by a former executive vice president of Countrywide Financial, a giant player in the U.S. mortgage business, this executive who was in charge of fraud investigations at the company related how ``Countrywide loan officers were forging and manipulating borrowers' income and asset statements to help them get loans they weren't qualified for and couldn't afford.'' She went on to say that, whenever we looked through all of the recycle bins, they were full of signatures that they had cut off of one document and put on another and then photocopied or faxed. According to her, the fraud was systemic, taking place in Boston, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and, I can tell you, Cleveland, Parma, Lorain, Elyria, Toledo, and Sandusky.

What we cannot forget is that these stories are not isolated. The FBI testified before Congress as early as 2004 that they were seeing an epidemic in white collar financial crimes, and they did not have anywhere near enough agents to go after the wrongdoers. Wasn't that convenient? While the number of agents has increased due to congressional pressure, the FBI needs to have more special agents and forensic experts to properly investigate the level of accounting corruption that is believed to exist.

This is the most basic, bipartisan concept I can think of, that criminals cannot be allowed to get away with their crimes because our law enforcement agencies lack the manpower to stop them.

I have a bill I hope my colleagues can support. It is H.R. 3050, the Financial Crisis Criminal Investigation Act, that would authorize an additional 1,000 FBI agents to take on the kinds of fraud that have destroyed the economic futures of countless American families and so gravely harmed our Republic. A good first step was the inclusion of more than 200 additional agents in the last appropriations cycle. This administration should use it to go after these Wall Street perpetrators.

The President announced during his State of the Union address a new working group to look into mortgage fraud. It will coordinate efforts between the FBI, the Justice Department, and various States to go after those on Wall Street who have perpetuated fraud in the markets, using mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, and lots of other sophisticated financial tricks.

Given the seriousness of the fraud, the number of American families that have lost their homes and savings, and the drag that that foreclosure crisis continues to have on the economy means we need more vigilance and let's confront Wall Street, and put the perpetrators in jail. And let's have them scrub floors in this new year.


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