“Until now, the driver of copyright legislation has always been Big Content, and there's never really been a driving force on the free speech side or the tech side. So that has yet to develop. And I don't know that is going to effectively develop this year, but I think its time to take a look at these issues. For example, why is it that you can spend a billion dollars and develop a medication, and by the time you get it to market you've only got 15 years left on your patent term—but the ditty that advertises the medication is protected for 100 years. What is the rationale for that?”—Rep. Zoe Lofgren, one of the only people on capital hill that actually understands the concerns of the tech industry, and copyright law in general.
“Thanks to all for your kind words. My best assessment is that most members of the House who do not serve on the Judiciary Committee have not yet focused on SOPA. People should realize that incredible power they have to impact the thinking of their own Representative on the subject. For example, a very intelligent colleague who is not on the Committee approached me today asking about the bill. Why? He had received an urgent and forthright telephone call from a small business person in his district who is tremendously opposed. He wanted to know more about our Open Act Alternative. This is the power that each of you have with your own Representative. I have noticed lot of commentary on line, many thoughtful comments, tweets, etc. But most Representatives are not as plugged into the net world as many of you are. To be heard, you must speak, directly and either by phone or in person. Tweets, emails, petitions are nice, but they don't get the same level of attention. If I had to bet right now (no, not a $10,000 bet!) I would guess that SOPA proponents currently have the upper hand in Congress. But that is because you have not yet been heard from fully yet. That is very much subject to change. I learned long ago not to try to explain the thinking of other Members of Congress on any given subject. Instead, you should ask them. If they represent you in the House, they most likely will be happy to take your call. Please remember if you do call to be not only forthright but also polite. It's likely that the person answering the phone is some young person who is working long hours for low pay who does not deserve rude treatment. The House is out of session now but I will be happy to participate in AMA on SOPA again in the days ahead. Best wishes.”—Representative Zoe Lofgren (via a message posted on reddit)
More Evidence the Obama Administration Doesn't Care About Home Owners
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Hey folks, Doug Huggins here again with more evidence that the Obama administration doesn’t care about fixing the economy - especially the hosing market…
This article was posted on December 20, 2011 at FireDogLake.com
Obama Administration Opposes Proposed FHFA Principal Paydown Plan
By: David Dayen
A while back, House Democrats impressed upon the Federal Housing Finance Agency the need for some kind of principal modification program for underwater borrowers. One option proposed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren and the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys was a principal pay down. Under it, borrowers would get through a bankruptcy process a temporary elimination of interest on their loans for up to five years, allowing all of their monthly payment to go to paying down principal. After the five-year period, they would be able to roll into a market rate loan. They would give up right of action in exchange for this program, and the new mortgage coming out of the process would have “quiet title,” (basically title ownership would be restored) which are the incentives for the lender.
I wrote about this idea at the time, recognizing it as a trade-off.
Would this help mitigate the foreclosure crisis? Certainly it would increase equity. What’s less clear is whether the interest payments are forgiven or merely deferred. If they’re deferred, it’s like a forbearance, which doesn’t do a whole lot in the long run. If they’re forgiven, it would give underwater borrowers a leg up. But, bankruptcy would have to be declared to get the relief, and that raises a host of additional concerns. And, there’s a trade-off; borrowers who opt for this plan would accept a settlement of all claims against their servicers. So it trades accountability for crimes for the principal paydown relief.
This would perhaps be a better path on a loan modification than a mere interest rate reduction, though there are some unanswered questions.
It does appear that the interest payments would be forgiven, which is positive, but it’s still not a perfect plan, though better than the status quo. I questioned at the time whether Ed DeMarco would go for it. Now, Shahien Nasiripour writers that DeMarco is strongly considering it. But the sticking point is actually the Obama Administration.
Advocates of the proposal argue that the plan does not specifically call for slashing mortgage principal, and that it is targeted only towards underwater homeowners with government-backed mortgages in Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. But the White House said the initiative is not under consideration, angering members of Congress who have tried to get the Obama administration to devote more attention to the slumping property market.
“It would be a major missed opportunity to heal the housing market,” said Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. “But it wouldn’t be their only missed opportunity,” she added, in reference to a litany of underwhelming Obama administration efforts that have so far yielded little success.
Ms Lofgren and John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, met Timothy Geithner, US Treasury secretary, for about an hour on November 18 to discuss the proposal. Mr Geithner said the Treasury department was compiling a “major package of recommendations” to fix the housing market for President Barack Obama, and that the Chapter 13 proposal was among them, according to Ms Lofgren. The Treasury department declined to comment.
“While we continue to talk to the FHFA and other market participants about ways to help borrowers and support the housing market, the administration is not at this time considering this particular idea,” said Amy Brundage, White House spokeswoman.
Let’s just remember this the next time that the White House discusses “doing everything they can” to help homeowners. Recall that the Justice Department and HUD have no problem with the downside to this deal, the extinguishing of claims on servicer abuse and foreclosure fraud. That’s what the proposed, albeit doomed, state AG settlement is all about. But they don’t want to exchange that for something like principal pay-down, which is about as close as you can get to a legitimate write-down solution for the foreclosure crisis. It’s not perfect but so little is these days. And it’s limited to agency-owned mortgages in bankruptcy cases, so it won’t have a tremendous reach. But you’re talking about a plan that lets a borrower in bankruptcy restore equity and get a sustainable mortgage on the home. It’s voluntary on the part of the borrower; if they want to keep the property, this is an option. I’m mildly skeptical of it but not as much as some plan to give “credits” to servicers that make loan modifications, as per the proposed state AG deal. At least in this case, the borrower has the option.
FHFA, incidentally, could just go ahead and implement this; they’re an independent agency. And elements of FHFA have acted independently in the recent past, like in their lawsuit against 17 banks on representation and warranty claims, or in the FHFA IG’s pact with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on sharing documents and depositions. Maybe FHFA will go its own way again.
Doug Huggins is nationally recognized as the nation’s leading expert in helping individuals and families find, qualify for and own a home of their own. Contact Doug for a no-cost - no-obligation consultation about your home mortage needs.