Over the weekend, the Washington Post provided some more details about the ongoing foreclosure fraud scandal, noting that “virtually everyone involved – loan servicers, law firms, document processing companies and others – made more money as they evicted more borrowers from their homes, creating a system that was vulnerable to error and difficult for homeowners to challenge.” A bevy of Democratic lawmakers have called for examinations of the banks’ potentially fraudulent activities, while the Attorneys General of all fifty states have pledged a coordinated investigation.
Republicans, however, have been largely silent on the issue. And according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who is slated to take over the House Committee on Government and Oversight should the Republicans gain a majority, the GOP is not really interested in the banks’ malpractice. Instead, Issa wants to “launch aggressive inquiries” into whether the government helped poor people buy houses they couldn’t afford:
The conservative Republican from California, who would become chairman of the powerful House oversight and government reform committee, said hearings would focus on whether the federal government should be involved at all in sponsoring home loans for the poor.
Such hearings would evidently “centre on the roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” which Republicans have blamed for the financial collapse of 2008, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As the Wonk Room explains, Issa’s pronouncement is part of an ongoing conservative effort to scapegoat homeowners and government for Wall Street’s malfeasance.
While the GOP likes to blame homeowners for the country’s economic woes, in the last decade, as the Center for American Progress has documented, banks were still systematically charging minorities higher costs for loans and pushing them into expensive subprime mortgages, making government policies to ensure fair access to credit a necessary step. It says a lot about the Republican mindset that banks evicting homeowners who aren’t in foreclosure doesn’t merit an investigation, but a low-income family receiving a mortgage in a traditionally under-served community does.