Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson indicated today that the U.S. government is hard at work putting together a program to help “struggling mortgage holders.” I have a question. Where the hell was Henry Paulson, his predecessors, and the rest of the supposed watchdogs in government when the mortgage lenders were granting loans that the borrowers were obviously going to be unable to pay when conditions changed? They were, I would suggest, sitting on their thumbs.
Mortgage lender after mortgage lender issued variable mortgages to people whose assets and incomes would cover the low payments required by the first year or two of the contract. However, those same borrowers could not have qualified for the payment amounts that would take hold one or a few years into the contract. Simply stated, the lenders were leading the borrowers on just to get the business, not to mention the closing costs and loan fees. They were all too aware that the vast majority of those borrowers were likely to lose their homes in a few years.
Now Paulson wants to bail out the mortgage holders. Wait just a moment. It was the lenders who were in error, and grievous error at that, willfully granting loans that they knew the borrowers could not pay, just to make a buck. The borrowers were not exactly being realistic about it, either. The politicians were looking the other way, thanks to millions contributed by the mortgage lenders and builders to those their campaigns. Any of those parties could, and should, be considered culpable.
I will tell you who is not at fault here. I am not at fault here. Neither are 99.6% of the rest of the people in our country. We did not do anything wrong. We did not intentionally make bad loans just so we could profit on the upfront costs. We did not sign papers for a loan that we knew we could not pay in two years. We did not look the other way while these ridiculous deals were being engineered and consummated.
Mr. Paulson should not be doing anything at the Treasury Department except sitting on his butt on the sidewalk out front, the result of having been flung out of the building for not doing his job. Also sitting out there should be all of those officials and functionaries responsible for oversight of the mortgage lending business. They should then be joined by all of the politicians that took all that “campaign” money.
Who should foot the bill here? Who made the money on these deals? Who should have known better? The mortgage lending companies should not be allowed to collect another dollar on any of these loans, period, starting today. Each of the people that signed one of those loans, on the theory that they were trusting the lenders and the government to know better than they, should be evaluated for a fixed mortgage based on the value of the property in today’s market.
If they can qualify for that mortgage, it should be issued, at a fair rate and with fair payments. If they cannot, they should be allowed to walk away without any penalty at all. Of the culpable, they are the least to blame. In cases where the current owner can not qualify, the properties should be sold at auction, with proceeds going into the General Fund. There should be no mercy shown to the corporations that offered these ridiculous loans or the government officials that failed to provide oversight for the industry.
I, for one, am damned tired of being asked to bail out people who made a bad or greedy deal. If the homeowners can qualify, great, they will remain homeowners. As for the mortgage lenders, they deserve no special consideration. They were motivated by pure greed. They got the money, which is what they wanted. Now let’s give them what they deserve: the bill for this mess they caused.