Chris Bowers advises that the House will be going ahead with housing legislation tomorrow that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of mortgages to reflect current home values and allow homeowners to avoid foreclosure (commonly known as “cram-down”. As I discussed with Rep. John Conyers, the author of this bill, this would not encourage bankruptcy but help people avoid it, giving them a level playing field to get banks to follow through with loan modifications. While practically every other property someone owns can have the terms rewritten by a bankruptcy judge, primary residences are excluded. That is arbitrary and wrong, and changing it would reduce foreclosures and homelessness and bring some stability to the housing market. This legislation is supported by the President and included in his housing plan, but a change in the law like this should be passed by the Congress to make it a federal statute.
Tomorrow, the House will vote on Representative Conyer’s bankruptcy cram down. The whip count is unclear right now, but some Blue Dogs and New Democrats, including Melissa Bean (D-IL), Dennis Moore (D-KS), and New Democratic chair Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), are working on behalf of the financial services industry to water down the legislation. Tauscher in particular is problematic, both because of her leadership role in one of the ideological caucuses, and also because rumors are that she has organized up to two dozen members thus far. It is about time that Tauscher, and the Representatives she is organizing, stop listening to industry lobbyists who do not have the public interest in mind.
So, let’s make Representative Tauscher listen to someone else right now. Contact Ellen Tauscher, and urge her to stop organizing other Democrats to water down HR 200. She needs to listen to honewoners, not to the financial industry that got us into this economic disaster.
Here is the contact information:
Email form (California residents only)
D.C. office: 202.225.1880
Ellen Tauscher’s New Democrat ways haven’t surfaced much since the threatened primary challenge in 2007, but torpedoing this bill would bring that back all over again. She needs to know that people are watching her and want to be sure that she is protecting homeowners and not the big banks and lenders.
Please contact her now or in the morning.