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Public Statements

The Progressive Message

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. KAPTUR. I thank my dear colleague from Minnesota, and thank you for your leadership on so many issues here.

I listened with care to what you've been presenting today to give voice to the American people from coast to coast. And I want to thank you, in particular, for the work you've done on mortgage foreclosures, on holding Wall Street accountable, Congressman Ellison. No one has fought harder. Minnesota's been affected, your home city of Detroit, all across northern Ohio, Toledo to Sandusky to Lorain to Cleveland to Parma, all these communities struck so hard by Wall Street's malfeasance.

And I wanted to join you today as you keep a focus on who the wrongdoers really have been, and how we help the Republic heal; to thank the Obama administration for the efforts they've made to date on a major settlement that's being announced during the same timeframe as we speak here, where individual States and five of the major Wall Street banks who are responsible, who used widespread fraudulent paperwork that precipitated the foreclosure crisis, that this settlement will actually bring some measure of justice.

And we ought to claim a great deal of credit because the Progressive Caucus has been working so hard on this, and housing and the mortgage foreclosure crisis has been at the top of our agenda.

The settlement, the initial settlement will reportedly impose a $26 billion penalty against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Allied Financial, and Citigroup that were at the heart of the schemes that led to the securitization and collateralized debt obligation risk-taking. The total amount could grow to $30 billion or $45 billion if additional banks join the settlement. Given the extent of the damage they've caused, it's a start, and frankly, a very important one.

We can't forget that millions of America's families lost their homes, and countless more are still dealing with foreclosure. And our cities have empty hulks of neighborhoods that are struggling as a result.

If you come to places that I represent, as you've mentioned, in northern Ohio you can see the thousands of vacant structures that these banks left to decay. They didn't even manage them well once they possessed them. In neighborhood after neighborhood, the damage these banks inflicted is incalculable as they achieved the largest transfer of equity and wealth from Main Street to Wall Street. They've made every community more poor.

This agreement is the largest joint Federal/State settlement ever obtained and the result of unprecedented coordination between the various corners of our government and the States. And it needs to be a major settlement.

One in five American families with a mortgage today--this is an astounding number--owe more than the house is actually worth by an average of over $50,000. The collective negative equity across the Nation is over $700 billion.

For years I've come to this floor urging Congress to do more, and one critical part of this agreement is that it does not provide blanket immunity to the banks for their misdeeds. While the ink is barely dry on this agreement, the press is reporting, and I quote, Officials will also be able to pursue any allegations of criminal wrongdoing.

And I know the congressman and I want to go down that road, and I wish to place in the Record an article from The New York Times this week that talks about how African American New Yorkers making more than $68,000 are nearly five times as likely to hold high interest mortgages as Caucasians of similar income.


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