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Monday, April 7, 2008

Does this man even have an IQ?: Bush’s response to the foreclosure crisis

Posted By on Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 5:22 AM

George%20Bush.jpg
Archeologists hope to someday uncover the president’s IQ, which was last seen in 1974.
Last fall, when President Bush belatedly realized that the foreclosure crisis was about to capsize the economy, he decided to do something about it. His administration helped set up the Hope Now alliance, a group of banking and lender types that would work with non-profit counselors to help homeowners fix ballooning and predatory loans. But this being George Bush, the operative goal was to look like he was doing something, rather than the time-tested concept of actually doing something. Turns out his alliance is housed by a financial lobbyist group, and includes members such as Countrywide Financial, also known as the Great White Loan Shark. And its executive director, Faith Schwartz, is a VP for a subprime lender Option One Mortgage… This is a bit like having Halliburton oversee the budget for the Iraq war. Though Hope Now claims to have helped more than one million people avoid foreclosure, critics say many just got new repayment plans for their loans — which they still can’t afford. And the alliance certainly isn’t helping those in desperate need, such as families in Cleveland, the nation’s foreclosure capital. “It’s a complete joke,” says Mark Seifert, head of the East Side Organizing Project, a local group that helps predatory loan victims. To qualify for help, Seifert says, you can’t be more than one month behind in your mortgage, and your credit rate has to be high. “If all those things were happening, you’re probably not in trouble,” he says. Plus, Hope Now is basically just an 800 number. Often, counselors ask a bunch of questions, and then just tell callers to contact their mortgage lender directly. So the point of calling is…? – Lisa Rab

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