Congress and the administration are currently in negotiations over a $700 billion legislative package to relieve financial institutions of their bad mortgage-based assets. At issue is to what extent the package should also aid Americans facing foreclosures. “We must insulate Main Street from Wall Street and keep people in their homes by reducing mortgage foreclosures,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
On ABC’s This Week today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) rejected relief for Main Street, labeling it simply “partisan politics” and saying that it doesn’t “need to be part of this package”:
DODD: I think there’s going to be a strong interest to deal with the Main Street aspects of this.
BOEHNER: But we’ve already dealt with that, when we passed the housing bill last summer. I didn’t vote for it because of the $300 billion bailout for scam artists, and speculators, and others around the housing industry. But there are a lot of tools in there to help the Federal Housing Administration deal with the foreclosures problems that’s out there. We need to rise above partisan politics…and deal with this as adults.
Boehner suggested giving Treasury Secretary Paulson the “powers as quickly as possible.” “There are a lot of well-meaning, well-intentioned ideas out there, but they don’t need to be part of this package,” he said, referring to assistance for average working families. Watch it:
Boehner needs to wake up if he thinks help for Americans facing foreclosure is unnecessary because of last year’s housing bill. Foreclosure filings last month increased 27 percent compared to the same month a year ago. Homeless advocacy groups are “reporting the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation” in part because of rising foreclosures.
Direct relief for the middle-class and Americans struggling to stay in their homes should be a necessary part of the bailout package. Ed Paisely of the Center for American Progress explained:
The legislative package that moves rapidly through Congress to implement Paulson’s new plan should also include expanded unemployment benefits and heating assistance for low-income families, increased food stamps, and assistance for states in providing health coverage to families in need during these difficult times. … It would not be right if the rescue only rescues firms and not families.
President Bush also hinted at opposition to direct help for Main Street in a press conference yesterday, stating, “I think most leaders would understand we need to get this done quickly…the cleaner the better.”