House Republicans have taken another pound-foolish step by voting to axe a program that provides a lifeline for middle-class homeowners who face foreclosure through no fault of their own because of the predatory and economy-wrecking policies of Wall Street.
The Emergency Mortgage Relief Program, which Republicans voted to de-fund in H.R. 836, replicates a successful program that I helped create as a young state legislator in Pennsylvania in the 1980s — and which was signed into law by a Republican governor.
Emergency mortgage relief is not an untried or experimental program. Nor is it a grant or giveaway. The federal program, which I introduced and guided toward enactment last fall, is just now getting to roll out phase. It provides small bridge loans to mortgage holders who have lost their jobs and is modeled after Pennsylvania’s Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance. HEMAP has made $223 million in such loans and actually receive some $245 million in paybacks.
But profit isn’t the point here — it is about keeping the American dream of home ownership alive for law abiding citizens who have temporarily fallen behind in their solid (not subprime) mortgages.
The House Republican majority has been only too happy to keep bailing out Wall Street, which has caused such mortgage misery, while it criticizes such successful efforts as keeping the American auto industry afloat. Today we witness another example of such unequal treatment: The Republican Wall Street enablers are willing to support corporations with tax dollars but unwilling to provide temporary assistance, that will be paid back, to tax-paying homeowners in their time of need.
Today’s wrong-headed attempt to wipe out emergency mortgage assistance before it even hits the ground is nothing more than a political statement. It is doomed to fail, along with the rest of the Republicans’ proposed budget cuts, which in any case amount to only 1.5 percent of total spending. Senator Bob Casey will be leading the charge in the Senate to keep this program moving, as he did for enactment. President Obama has vowed to veto the bill if it ever gets to the White House.
To add insult to this injury, the Republicans threw homeowner/veterans under the bus. They defeated a Democratic proposal to keep emergency mortgage relief in effect for veterans and active duty military.
The whole world looks to us as a beacon of hope. We cannot become a cold-hearted nation of nope.
Follow Rep. Chaka Fattah on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ChakaFattah