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Public Statements

Mortgage Reform And Anti Predatory Lending Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield myself 5 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, today could easily be a day toward a celebration for myself, as an original cosponsor of this bill, and Mr. Miller of North Carolina, my colleague, who also is an original cosponsor of this bill, perhaps leading to a celebration of final passage.

But I approach this day with two rather major concerns about celebrating. First of all, I approach it asking: What if 6 years ago we had passed the legislation that Mr. Miller and I proposed to the House of Representatives at that time? Isn't it likely that the major meltdown in our credit system would not have occurred, and there's the prospect that had that not occurred, the major economic crisis in which our country finds itself now, trying to dig our way out, may also have been avoided.

So the decisions that we make have consequences. They have had consequences to our credit markets and they have consequences going forward, and have had consequences to our economy.

So this is not a day for celebration. If we pass the bill and the Senate passes the bill and it gets signed into law, we will always wonder what if we had done this when we originally brought forward the bill and dealt with the issue when it should have been dealt with.

Second, my observation is that this has been a very difficult and delicate bill to balance because we have tried to, on the one hand, not to dry up the credit--the money that is out there to be in the market for lenders to make loans to potential homeowners and to current homeowners to refinance while, at the same time, cutting back on the abuses that took place in the marketplace that led to the credit crisis and the economic meltdown that I just described.

Balancing those two interests has been difficult and, unfortunately, those interests were balanced inappropriately in the past because credit obviously was made too readily available to too many people who could not afford to pay it back, who are now in foreclosure proceedings, now in bankruptcies, and we are seeing the negative consequences of an unrestrained market.

So, obviously, the balance was not drawn appropriately in the past, and now we face the argument from a number of my colleagues that, ``Well, we can just leave this alone and let the market take care of itself and we shouldn't be doing anything.'' We're going to hear those arguments throughout today's general debate and, no doubt, on tomorrow when we start dealing with the amendment process.

That's a laissez-faire attitude that I would remind my colleagues is the same laissez-faire attitude that we faced 6 years ago when we first introduced this bill which, I would suggest to you, if we had acted then, we wouldn't be here.


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