The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 736-5770

Lending Industry Still Fighting Mortgage Modification as Foreclosure Crisis Continues


As the House debates the Wall Street Reform and Consumer
Protection Act of 2009 this week, the lending industry continues to
fight a mortgage modification provision that would allow bankruptcy
judges to adjust the terms of mortgages to help struggling families as
part of a broader effort to stem the worsening foreclosure crisis.

Lending industry opponents of the measure, some of the biggest recipients of federal bailout money,
have spent lavishly on lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009. An
analysis by Common Cause and Public Campaign shows that the coalition
of banks opposed to the mortgage modification provision - including
Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase & Co --
have spent more than $80 million on lobbying and more than $6 million
on campaign contributions this year, according to data from the Center
for Responsive Politics.

"These Wall Street banks were rescued by the taxpayers after
they almost collapsed under their own bad investments," said Common
Cause President Bob Edgar. "They took that money and are spending
millions lobbying and making campaign contributions to stop proposals
that would help those same taxpayers keep their homes."

"From regulatory reform to health care, campaign cash from
Wall Street interests is permeating every corner of debate in
Washington, D.C.," said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public
Campaign. "Congress must create a political system that works for all
of us, not just those with money to spare. It's time to pass the Fair
Elections Now Act."

The House is currently debating the Wall Street Reform and
Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (HR 4173), the most significant
overhaul of the financial industry since the New Deal. It may take up
the bankruptcy amendment offered by Judiciary Committee Chairman
John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) as soon as today.
The House passed identical language in March, but the effort ran
aground in the Senate.

Some House members want the Senate to reconsider the proposal,
as most major lenders have not responded to the voluntary initiatives
adopted in place of the bankruptcy provision. The Treasury Department
estimates that only one-in-five eligible households have received
government assistance through these voluntary programs.

Common Cause and Public Campaign continue to work to pass the
Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826 / S.752) as the comprehensive
solution to the pay-to-play culture in Washington, DC exposed by the
debate over regulatory reform. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Dick
Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) would create a
citizen-funded election system for Congress in which candidates could
run for office on a blend of small donations and public funds.

Click here to read the full analysis
that includes spending on lobbying and campaign contributions for 2009
by the coalition of banks opposed to the mortgage modification

Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

(202) 833-1200