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Public Statements

Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BIGGERT. I would say that all I can find in the Congressional Budget Office cost estimate is that it's $2.7 billion and not $2.4 billion over 2008 to 2013, as far as the CBO estimate that Chairman Frank was talking about.

You know, Congress has yet to submit a single bill to the President that might begin to address this crisis in the housing market, and here we are again debating controversial new housing legislation, instead of passing common-sense housing reform that could start helping homeowners.

And I feel like I woke up one morning, we just had a markup on the Housing bill, and suddenly, I couldn't even find the number of it, H.R. 3221, and it suddenly was a different bill with a lot of different provisions in it. Some were the same and some weren't. I have to say this reminds me of the SCHIP bill that we debated, which kind of came over here the same way from the Senate. I don't think it's going to be the same result, but I just can't understand that process.

And I do appreciate Chairman Frank's inclusion of FHA and GSE reform, as well as the funding for housing counseling and mortgage fraud in the bill that we're considering today. But these are much needed reforms that could increase the liquidity in the housing market and provide consumers with an alternative to the bad subprime loans, and help to restore consumer confidence, which is so important.

But attaching these things to a taxpayer-funded bailout will not get them any closer to the President's desk. And make no mistake. This is a bailout. It would place U.S. taxpayers on the hook for the $300 billion guarantee, but that includes the riskiest mortgage debt on the market. And it does this by allowing speculators, borrowers who have overstated assets, who have cheated and knew that they couldn't make the payments, and those who invested irresponsibly, to pawn off their financial liabilities on U.S. taxpayers. This is a liability.

And instead of serving distressed homeowners, the bill requires that the lenders, not the homeowners, to make the decision to place the mortgage in the program. Since the lenders are the ones that would like to get rid of their bad loans and put those on the, be guaranteed by the Federal Government, the taxpayers, the taxpayers will be bailing out the banks, the investors on their most unwise lending decisions.

Even more disturbing is that the bailout is partially funded on the backs of seniors through changes to FHA reverse mortgage program.

Mr. Speaker, we shouldn't be asking American taxpayers to pay for the mistakes of those who over estimated their income on mortgage applications, or scam artists that inflated appraisals and flipped properties.

Nor should they pay for homeowners who chose to live beyond their means, using inflated home equity loans to buy a new plasma TV, a swimming pool or a fancy car. It is not fair to those who saved and invested responsibly.

The majority of Americans are working hard to make ends meet. Ninety-three percent of our mortgage holders are making their payments on time. Fifty-one out of 55 million Americans with a mortgage are making their mortgage payments on time.

Twenty-five million Americans own their own homes and have no mortgage. Thirty-four million Americans are prudently renting because they aren't ready to own a home. These hardworking Americans should not be forced to foot the bill for the bad decisions of a few who gambled that their home values would never stop rising. They don't think that's fair, and I don't think so either.

I understand that many of my colleagues are looking at the economic effects of the housing bubble and saying to themselves, ``We must act, we must do something. ``But we shouldn't do something if it's not right. Congress can help struggling borrowers and promote economic growth without burdening the taxpayers with inappropriate spending.

And that's why I join with Financial Services Ranking Member Bachus to offer an alternative plan that helps homeowners in a responsible way. It does include the FHA reform. This could solve this problem right away. Our substitute funds housing for counseling, other reforms to GSEs that's so important, without a so-called trust fund or slush fund.

And there's nothing in the Democrat alternative that would prevent a similar housing crisis like this in the future. Though improved, disclosure lender registration higher price is standard.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman from Illinois has expired.

Mr. NEUGEBAUER. I yield the gentlewoman an additional minute.

Mrs. BIGGERT. Our Republican alternative would do more than put an expensive Band-Aid on the housing market. It begins to address the underlying causes of the subprime mess. It will ensure that borrowers have access to legitimate loans; that they understand the terms of their loan, and that they are taking a loan that they can afford based on the actual value of the house.

We need to bring transparency and integrity to the homebuying process, and we need to expand access to credit for worthy borrowers who genuinely want to pay off their loans, but we need to do it without wasting taxpayers' dollars.

I think we have an alternative bill that would solve these problems. And many were supported by both Republicans and Democrats. It's a commonsense plan that doesn't spend money and, in fact, has been scored by CBO to actually reduce the deficit by $25 million. Coupled with Mr. Terry's tax credit for owner-occupied homebuyers, it will jump-start the flailing housing market and get our economy back on track.

That's why I urge my colleagues to vote against the bill before us today and consider the alternative, if we had the opportunity to have an alternative.

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. I yield myself first 45 seconds to say that on the scoring, $2.4 billion was the CBO score for the mortgage part. They did say a total of $2.7 billion. The other $300 million is attributable to an amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Illinois on mortgage. So the gentlewoman from Illinois is correct. It is $2.7 billion. That includes the $300 million she added to the bill with her amendment, and the $2.4 million in mortgages.

Mrs. BIGGERT. Will the gentleman yield? I thank you for putting that $300 million.

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Yes, the gentlewoman is correct.


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