Here is the full video for the Forgotten Foreclosure Crisis Panel at Netroots Nation ’10 featuring Ryan Grim, David Dayen, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren. It was a really good panel.
I have to admit I got choked up while listening to Ryan Grim start the panel with a story about a camera operator who had his $100,000 down payment wiped out and doesn’t know where he’s going to live:
The sheer volume of misery in this housing mess is too much for me at times. “Lucky” for him, in Las Vegas no landlords check for short sales or foreclosures because if they did they could never find any tenants.
– David Dayen, in a nice move, started reading some quotes from when HAMP was introduced predicting it wouldn’t work and then said they were from Warren. Dayen also noted that this program is designed to make the phrase “We’re from the government and we’re here to help” the scariest phrase in the English language. (Dayen has more from the panel.)
– Senator Merkley and others are giving lien stripping another go in the Senate. Godspeed. He also asked us to not refer to it as “cramdown” anymore; I will do my best.
– I want there to be more “Topic 101″s for people in general, and especially at Netroot Nations. “Inflation 101.” “Filibuster 101.” Etc. Warren, one of the nation’s leading experts on bankruptcy law, walked through the concept of bankruptcy to the audience. Consider this 8 minute video “Bankruptcy 101”, and if you could use that course watch it:
Bankruptcy isn’t about “your neighbor getting a better break than you did.” It’s about who bears the losses when things go wrong. And the rebirth, the notion of starting over after a failure, is about as American as it can get. It’s worth noting that bankruptcy is in the Constitution, one of the few economic concepts in it.
– An audience member asked about derivatives getting to move to the front of the bankruptcy code after the 2005 bill, and if that meant anything for the crisis. Good times.
– Center for American Progress has a report “Now We’re Talking: A Look at Current State-Based Foreclosure Mediation Programs and How to Bring Them to Scale.” I hope that they can be made to work at scale as well.
I get the occasional angry email because I’m not hopey changey enough, but right now I’m angry at the administration over HAMP. It was their baby, it didn’t require Congressional action of any kind, and when it was introduced the usual suspects said it was unlikely to help people. More than that, it’s actually hurting people, extracting payments during the extend and pretend period before finally chucking people out.
At this point, walking away for underwater homeowners unable to meet their payments who have been given the run around by the government and their lenders shouldn’t simply be seen as a rational economic choice (check state laws, get some advice before doing so), but also as a noble act of civil disobedience. The system failed, and the government failed to help.
It’s really sad that it’s coming to this.