Senate Judiciary Committee: Closing the Barn Door after the Barn’s Been Foreclosed

Sometime this week, the long-awaited terms for the foreclosure settlement will be released, giving banks immunity for much of the fraud and forgery they committed in the course of taking homeowners’ houses.

Which makes the timing of this hearing the Senate Judiciary Committee just announced beyond absurd.

“Examining Lending Discrimination Practices and Foreclosure Abuses”

Senate Judiciary Committee
Full Committee

DATE: March 7, 2012

A better time for such a hearing might have been December 2010, just as the full extent of the robosigning was being exposed. In fact, that’s the second-to-last hearing John Conyers hadbefore Dems lost their House majority. Since that time, he has been imploring the Administration and the Attorneys General to do something substantive about foreclosure problems, even asking MI’s AG not to sign onto the settlement.

But next week!?!?! Just as the settlement will be enacted, making many of these issues (though reportedly not civil rights issues) moot?!?! Really?!?!

I mean, if the Judiciary Committee is going to hold a hearing in the immediate future, it’d be far better to hold a hearing considering what impact it will have on justice in this country to assign a $2,000 price tag to fabricating forged documents or engaging in other fraudulent activities before a court. Will judges ever be able to trust corporations in their courtrooms again? Will private citizens have access to this $2,000 Get Out of Jail Free card, or only Too Big to Fail institutions?

Alternately, act like the bankster-owned body the Senate is, and simply call a hearing to discuss whether having pension funds pay to buy immunity for the banks hurts corporations.

And then there’s the witness list: right now, just Civil Rights Division head Thomas Perez will testify. I’m all in favor of Thomas Perez in most any role–his work at Civil Rights has easily been the best part of DOJ under Obama. But aren’t there other people who might better address foreclosure abuses, even if the hearing just focuses on lending discrimination?

I mean, I’m all in favor of someone finally conducting oversight over the fraud going on in this country. But this hearing couldn’t be more badly timed.

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

9 replies
  1. rugger9 says:

    It’s all the more appalling when one considers just how pervasive the fraud is. San Francisco’s Assessor [it’s a city and county rolled into one] did a study where 84% of the 382 foreclosures studied had at least one clear violation of the law. That study literally came out the week after the settlement was announced, and has been backed up by other studies completed in the three weeks since then [and, we still don’t know what the terms are]. If I were cynical, I would think that this mad rush to settle was intended to create the moot situation described here. It was the price demanded by the banksters to send $$$ into the re-election kitty. So, in spite of all of the “official ignorance” and the laughable OCC “study”, millions of homeowners are going to get hosed, and the rest of us will get our hosing later.

    Let’s not forget that the end result of this fraud is that no one will know who owns the house or the liens on it. The banks could slap a “loan” on your house ex post facto and you wouldn’t know until the foreclosure was in full swing. This settlement allows them to create the paper trail to steal your house even if you never did business with them. If you want to sell your house or buy a house, who is the real owner, especially if the loan was MERSed? Only one note exists, but it doesn’t matter any more. If you buy the house from the wrong “owner” you are SOL, or if your refi of the loan didn’t “clear” the prior loan to be conveniently “discovered” many years later. As you might see this is going to be litigated for some time, particularly the title issue.

    In case anyone wonders, the same circus exists in the commercial real estate market.

    What it will do, and it will be far worse when the real terms come out, is potentially cost Obama the election since everyone will know who sold the millions of homeowners out. Obama’s figuring he’ll get enough dough to put the political lipstick on the pig [so do the AGs who signed on to this, like Ms Harris of CA], but he is ignoring the already evident facts on the ground that Jamie and the rest do not honor deals they make with the 99%, and they certainly won’t toss anything like what they’ll give the GOP corporate candidate [I still think it’s Petraeus] into Obama’s re-election kitty.

    Way to go, O, I hope you have worked out the explanation to your kids when they figure out what you shoved through on the backs of homeowners.

  2. Bob Schacht says:

    I guess they’d say better late than never.
    But didn’t the NY AG and new head of Obama’s fraud investigation, Eric schneiderman, assure us that this agreement only covered a little corner of the fraud activity, and there was much more to come?

    Bob in AZ

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    But this hearing couldn’t be more badly timed.

    That assumes the purpose of the hearing is to engage in fact finding and legitimate congressional oversight. The timing is just fine, however, if the intent is to appear to engage in oversight but without actually threatening to engage in it. That exercise in Rovian cynicism would suit electioneering postures on the right and left. It would also keep the banksters’ lobbyists dollars coming in.

  4. jo6pac says:

    The only reason it took this long is the bankster need the time to make sure once again No Bankster Goes to Jail and Main Street get the bill. Yep you gotta love 0 and friends.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @emptywheel: You have a nice balance between optimism and a skepticism worthy of Twain, Will Rogers and Izzy, which makes for more interesting reading than would a foolish consistency.

  6. P J Evans says:

    Some friends of mine had their house foreclosed on and it was sold – or supposed to be sold – at the end of December. I hear that the bank is dragging its feet on the formal transfer. If the neighboring houses didn’t have occupants, it would probably have squatters already.

  7. rosalind says:

    @P J Evans: or get rented out by a fake realtor to unsuspecting renters:

    A former real estate agent has been arrested for allegedly taking over foreclosed homes in Contra Costa County that weren’t his and renting them out to unsuspecting tenants, authorities said.

    Alfonso Salazar, 62, a Martinez resident, is accused of moving in on foreclosed homes, having the locks changed and renting them out to tenants who didn’t realize he didn’t own the properties, prosecutor Ken McCormick said.

  8. prostratedragon says:

    In a closely related matter, James Kwak reports on one economist’s effort to explain why the financial sector has been garnering such an increasing share of all corporate profits in the country for the last decade.

    Please brace yourselves: it is apparently not that the sector is in any sense operating far more efficiently than in the past. Rather, it seems to be due largely to our old friend, churning. Or something much like it.

Comments are closed.