Usual Suspects

Obama’s Mortgage Program Falls Short

Ten months ago, President Obama announced a $75 billion program to help as many as four-million Americans to refinance their mortgages. Since then, lenders have accepted over one-million applications and cut three month deals with 759,000 people—but only 31,000 have received the new mortgages that are the program’s goal. Who’s to blame? No surprise here: Critics are fingering the lenders, which are subsidiaries of big banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and J.P. Morgan. Some accuse these lenders of piling on delay after delay, steering homeowners toward mortgages with onerous terms, and even doing things that Obama’s program is supposed to prohibit, like forcing homeowners to waive their right to sue. The Obama administration pays the lenders $1,000 for each new loan and then another $1,000 per year for three years if the homeowner avoids foreclosure. The lenders say the homeowners, many of whom fail to show proof of income and fail to make even modified payments, are to blame.