Friday, October 31, 2008


Courtesy of the Senate Democratic Communications Center (so make of it what you will).


December 28, 2002: A study by Federal Reserve economists reported homeowners taking advantage of falling interest rates and rising home values to extract $131.6 billion via mortgage refinancings in 2001 and early 2002, while consumers spent some of the money, they saved or invested more of it, according to a study published in the Federal Reserve Bulletin. Homeowners spent an estimated $20.7 billion of the cash for personal items such as cars, vacations or medical services, the study said. [Chicago Tribune, 12/28/02]

May 2002: Senator Sarbanes introduces the Predatory Lending Consumer Protection Act of 2002. [S. 2438]

November 2003: Senator Sarbanes, introduces the Predatory Lending Consumer Protection Act of 2003. [S. 1928]

February 23, 2004: Instead of heeding warnings, Federal Reserve leadership promotes non-traditional mortgages over fixed rate products in a speech to the Credit Union National Association annual conference. "American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage.the traditional fixed-rate mortgage may be an expensive method of financing a home." [Remarks By Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, 2/23/04]

October 8, 2003: Bush administration objected to a proposal to have an independent regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be an independent unit of Treasury, much like financial regulators housed in the agency that oversee banks and thrifts. The Bush administration also objected to a proposal to have the Department of Housing and Urban Development have oversight over the companies' business activities. The independence provision has broad support from committee Democrats and Republicans. The HUD provision was pushed mostly by Democrats but had been accepted by Oxley and Baker as a compromise needed to move the bill forward. [Washington Post, 10/8/03]

February 24, 2004: At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Norman Rice, President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle questioned having low-income Americans use ARM's to finance their homes. In addition, Senator Sarbanes questioned the Federal Reserve's promotion of alternative mortgage products over traditional fixed rate mortgages:

* Norman Rice: "Particularly if you're talking about serving an underserved constituency. Adjustable rate mortgages for a low income constituency is a nightmare."

* Senator Sarbanes: "[The Federal Reserve] is pushing adjustable rate mortgages.and throwing this risk back on the consumer." [Senate Banking Committee Transcript, 2/25/04]

June 30, 2004: After encouraging the use of non-traditional mortgages, many of which re-set with rising interest rates, the Federal Reserve begins to raise rates-17 consecutive, 25 basis point increases that take the Federal Reserve Funds rate from a 46-year low of 1 percent in June 2004 to 5.25 percent in June 2006. [Market News International, 4/29/08]

October 26, 2005: House of Representatives passed regulation reforming the GSE's. The bill passed the House 331-90 (Republicans: 209-15; Democrats: 122-74), and would have given the new regulator broad authority over setting capital requirements and limiting portfolio size. Senate Democrats picked that bill up and offered it, but the Administration opposed that legislation. According to Mr. Oxley, the White House gave Congress and the GSE reform legislation "a one-finger salute."

* "We missed a golden opportunity that would have avoided a lot of the problems we're facing now, if we hadn't had such a firm ideological position at the White House and the Treasury and the Fed," Mr. Oxley says." [Financial Times, 9/11/08]

February 7, 2007: Federal banking regulators released their voluntary Guidance on Nontraditional Mortgage Products for mortgage lenders. However, the guidance did not apply to subprime mortgages. [Senate Banking Committee Transcipt, Prepared Statement of Martin Eakes, 2/7/07]

March 22, 2007: Senator Dodd laid out how the Federal Reserve was responsible for the "perfect storm" sweeping over American homeowners. At a Banking committee hearing Dodd said, "By May of 2005, the press was reporting that economists were warning about the risks of these new mortgages. In June of that year, Chairman Greenspan was talking about "froth" in the mortgage market and testified before the Joint Economic Committee that he was troubled by the surge in exotic mortgages." [Senate Banking Committee Transcript, 3/22/07]

August 6, 2007: At a White House morning press briefing, in response to a question whether the housing market is correcting or in crisis, President Bush says that the economy is stable: "[I]t looks we're headed for a soft landing." [Remarks By President Bush, 8/9/07]

November 15, 2007: Senator Reid asked unanimous consent to pass the FHA Modernization Act, but Republicans objected. [Congressional Record, 11/15/08]

December 4, 2007: In response to a question about whether the Administration was too slow to recognize the subprime problem, President Bush said: "We've been working on this since August." [Remarks By President Bush, 12/4/07]

December 6, 2007: Senator Reid asked unanimous consent to pass the FHA Modernization Act, but Republicans objected. [Congressional Record, 12/6/08]

October 4, 2007: At a news conference on Wednesday, House and Senate Democrats outlined a plan to help low- and middle-income families keep their homes." [New York Times, 10/04/07]

January 9, 2008: The Federal Reserve finally proposes rule pursuant to the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, to combat abusive and deceptive lending practices. Congress passed the law in 1994. [Federal Reserve System, 1/9/08; Public Law No: 103-325]

February 14, 2008: Senate Democrats announce The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 which would keep families facing foreclosure in their homes, help other families avoid foreclosures in the future, and help communities already harmed by foreclosure to recover. [HR 3221, 2008]

February 26, 2008: After Senate Democrats introduce The Foreclosure Prevention Act, White House issues a veto threat and Senate Republicans block consideration of the bill. [Statement of Administration Policy, 2/26/08; Senate Vote #35, HR 3221]

February 28, 2008: Senate Republicans blocked consideration of the Foreclosure Prevention Act. The bill provided $10 billion in bond authority to refinance subprime loans, $4 billion in grants for the rehabilitation of foreclosed homes and tax relief for struggling homebuilders. The bill also included a provision that would allow bankruptcy courts to modify the terms of a mortgage on a primary residence that could have helped 600,000 families stay in their homes. [Senate Vote #35, HR 3221; CRS Summary; Finance Committee Press Release, 2/15/08; Center for Responsible Lending]

March 14, 2008: Federal Reserve and JP Morgan Chase Bailed Out Bear Stearns. "On the verge of a collapse that could have shaken the very foundations of the U.S. financial system, investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. was bailed out Friday by a rival and the federal government. The near-miss raised new alarm about the credit crisis -- and whether other big firms might be in jeopardy." [AP, 3/15/08]

April 1, 2008: Republicans Stall Housing Bill. Republicans force cloture vote on motion to proceed to energy bill. [Senate Vote 86, HR 3221, 4/1/08]

June 19, 2008: After measure is reported by the Senate banking committee, White House issues a veto threat against the Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008, which includes GSEs reform, on the grounds that the bill provides $4 billion in grants to communities struggling with foreclosed properties. [Statement of Administration Policy, 1/19/08]

June 24, 2008: Republicans Stall Housing Bill. Republicans forced Democrats to file cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Housing bill. [Senate Vote 155, HR 3221, 6/24/08]

June 25, 2008: 79 Senators vote to pass the bipartisan housing bill while some Republican Senators announce they would use procedural maneuvers to delay final passage until after the July 4th recess. "Sens. Jim DeMint and John Ensign both said they were willing to run out the clock on a major housing bill.'I don't intend to allow any unanimous consents to shorten the debate time on the housing bill,' DeMint said." [Roll Call, 6/26/08]

July 7, 2008: Republican Senators force a procedural vote in order to further delay the passage of the comprehensive housing bill. [Senate Vote #163, HR 3221, 7/10/08]

July 10, 2008: Several Republican Senators force another procedural vote in order to delay passage of the housing bill. (Senate Vote #170, HR 3221, 7/10/08) "By a vote of 84-12 Thursday, the Senate cleared away the last procedural hurdle hindering the measure in that chamber, but lingering objections by a GOP critic pushed off passage until Friday." [AP, 7/11/08]

July 11, 2008: White House spokeswoman Dana Perino renews veto threat against the housing bill. [AP, 7/11/08]

April 10: 2008: Senate Democrats Passed the Foreclosure Prevention Act. The bill provided tax breaks for those buying foreclosed homes, overhaul of the FHA mortgage insurance program, $4 billion to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed homes, $100 million for housing counseling and relief for veterans returning from war facing foreclosure. [Senate Vote 96, HR 3221]

May 20, 2008: Senate Banking Committee passes bipartisan housing bill. The bill, passed out of committee on a vote of 19-2, includes major efforts to help prevent the rising number of foreclosures, to create more affordable housing for Americans, and to strengthen the regulation of the GSEs in order to reduce risk and improve their role in the housing finance system. [CQ Committee Coverage, 5/20/08]

July 11, 2008: Alarmed by the growing financial stress at the nation's two largest mortgage finance companies, senior Bush administration officials consider a plan to have the government take over Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac and place them in a conservatorship if their problems worsen. [New York Times, 7/11/08]

July 15, 2008: Bush says he opposes bailouts for private companies, "In terms of private enterprises, no, I don't think the government ought to be involved with bailing out companies. I think the government ought to create the conditions so that companies can survive. And I've listed four. And one of the things I'm deeply troubled about is people who feel like it's okay to raise taxes during these times. And it would be a huge mistake to raise taxes right now." [Remarks By President Bush, 7/15/08 ]

July 26, 2008: Senate passes the Housing and Economic Recovery Act by a vote of 72-13.

July 23, 2008: White House drops veto threat based on Secretary Paulson's request for GSE authority. "The legislation, unveiled in March, sped to approval after lawmakers added a plan proposed July 13 by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that lets him back up Fannie and Freddie..The change prompted Bush to drop a veto threat." [Bloomberg, 7/27/08]

July 25, 2008: Republicans stall housing bill. Republicans force cloture vote on the motion to concur to the House amendments to the Housing bill. [Senate Vote 185, HR 3221, 7/25/08]

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