Just in case there’s still anyone out there who thinks that the government’s “home preservation” program HAMP (the Home Affordable Modification Program) was actually intended to help Americans devastated by the bank-induced economic crash and subsequent foreclosure feeding frenzy, here’s the real scoop from the man tasked with overseeing the bailout program TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program).
In response to homeowner complaints about mortgage servicers, Treasury “demonstrated no interest in taking even the most modest steps to punish them,” Barofsky writes. “That was unconscionable, given the pain being inflicted on so many home owners.”
In a meeting with [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner — this one involving fewer f-bombs than others — Barofsky says he finally realized the root of the Treasury Department’s apparent lack of interest in helping homeowners: They apparently had another goal in mind.
At the meeting, Elizabeth Warren, then chair of a congressional oversight panel established in 2008 to oversee the bailouts, questioned Geithner about HAMP’s ability to help homeowners — not the last time she would grill him.
“In defense of the program, Geithner finally blurted out, ‘We estimate that they can handle ten million foreclosures, over time,’ referring to the banks. ‘This program will help foam the runway for them.'”
To Barofsky it seemed that Geithner saw HAMP mainly as a way to stretch out the foreclosure process, giving banks time to recover from the crisis without having to be hit with a wave of foreclosures all at once.
“Helping the banks, not home owners, did in fact seem to be Treasury’s biggest concern,” Barofsky writes. “HAMP was not separate from the bank bailouts; it was an essential part of them.”
So, according to the man in the know, HAMP was supposed to create a soft landing (“foam the runway”) for banks that have gotten rich from making millions of risky and fraudulent mortgage loans.
What I’d like to know is, why didn’t the U.S. government pay any attention to creating a soft landing for the millions of Americans whose lives, livelihoods, retirement savings and households were devastated through no fault of their own? Why hasn’t the Dept. of Justice prosecuted a single bank exec. in the wake of mortgage loan fraud, robo-signing, securitization irregularities?
By the way, it seems Goldman Sachs and cronies have chosen to enthrone Romney this time, so no doubt see absolutely no need for the little people to waste time and effort voting. No worries, then, if you lost your house to an iffy foreclosure process and had to move, but forgot to update your voter registration. Wells Fargo, B of A, Chase, Citi and friends will take care of choosing a government that will keep providing them a soft place to land.