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The United States of Banking and Serfdom

Ahhhh, smell that, it is the smell of destroyed dreams in the morning.  For those of you who thought my post on April 2, “This Country Needs An Enema”, was overwrought, pedantic, unrealistic, Utopian….  (umm, let me see what else did I hear, oh yeah, I forgot there were those of you who said “On the mark”, correct, the truth, a sad fact….  well you get the point) here is another post that ought to generate some emails.

So at the end of April we got a huge neon sign of a message explaining who OWNS this country.  A country “of the people, by the people, for the people” my ass… it’s a country of “the Rich”, by “the Rich”, for “the rich”.  And don’t start, I am not criticizing Lincoln , he is one of the very few true Americans ever!  And one of my personal heroes. So the neon sign of which I speak is the defeat of the measure that would have allowed judges to modify primary mortgages for borrowers in bankruptcy court by the Banking industry and it’s minions in the Senate (mostly Republicans, but with 12 Democrats sprinkled in for good measure).  By the way, for anyone interested I will list the Senators at the end of this post.

Now here is the thing about primary mortgage modifications in bankruptcy court, it isn’t a new thing.  Prior to the 1980′s judges were able to do this, it was the Republican Congress of the 1980′s that changed it.  And even today, if you have loans on vacation houses, cars, and boats bankruptcy judges have the power to modify those loans. In other words, for people who have arguably “extra” stuff besides their home, a judge can reduce principal on the loans for such “extras” to make them more affordable, but the judge isn’t allowed to do that for the home that keeps you off the streets. A key idea behind the legislation was that it could have encouraged lenders to modify loans for borrowers before they were forced into bankruptcy. Across the United States, the measure was estimated to prevent 1.69 million foreclosures and preserve $300 billion in home equity.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “I am sick and tired of being asked to give billions to these banks,” threatening to oppose any further industry bailouts. “If they have no sympathy for homeowners facing foreclosure, I don’t have any sympathy for them.” Durbin concluded that banks “frankly own the place.”

Now you all know that I have been a long time fan of President Obama, but, this is one time when his administration either dropped the ball (which is what I sincerely hope happend) or caved in to Banking and Mortgage Industry lobbies.  They made no push to get this passed.  The administration meakly stated they were for the measure, even though it had been one of Candidate Obama’s ideas during the campaign.  The President refused to use his bully pulpit to get support for this both in the Senate and in the electorate, instead allowing House Democrats to run with it.  Even though in the past he was quick to point out that foreclosures are one of the biggest downward pressures on housing prices. I hate to do it, but, I must agree with much of what was said in the New York Times editorial on May 3rd.

So what do we learn from this kiddies?  We learn yet again, that if you are wealthy and have influence, then the rules are designed to elevate you and keep you safe from harm.  However, if you are a working stiff, doing your best to save your home and family, you better go buy a good thick winter coat just in case!

And so, as promised, here are the Senators responsible for the defeat, and courtesy of the Huffington Post, how much some of them were paid by the financial industry to sell their souls:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Byrd (D-WV)
Carper (D-DE)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (D-PA)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)

How much did the Senate go for, well according to the Huffington Post:

“The banking and real estate industry has funneled roughly $2,000,000 into Landrieu’s campaign coffers over her 12-year career, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. The financial sector is Nelson’s biggest backer; he’s taken $1.4 million from banks and real estate interests and another $1.2 million from insurance firms. Tester has fielded roughly half a million in his two years in office. Lincoln has taken $1.3 million from banking and real estate interests.

“Carper has raked in more than $1.5 million. Baucus, chair of the finance committee, has been on the receiving end of $3.5 million over his career. Specter has hauled in more than $4.5 million and Johnson has gotten some $2.5 million.”

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