Weatherford Democrat

AP Story Section

January 26, 2009

Fight building up over judges redoing mortgages

(Continued)



“We’re going to defend the industry” against “bad public policy,” O’Connor said.

The association’s 23-member government affairs team is trying to persuade lawmakers to kill the bankruptcy legislation. The team includes six lobbyists and nine policy experts who double as lobbyists, said O’Connor, senior vice president of government affairs.

The bankruptcy solution would not cost taxpayers money, as would mortgage modification programs that could become part of the government’s huge economic bailout package. But it certainly would harm the bottom line for lenders and investors holding mortgages.

The lending industry has voluntary programs in place to change mortgage terms. But Butler’s lawyer, Peter Bagley, said it was a nightmare trying to contact his client’s lender.

First, he was told the application for a loan modification would take at least 30 days to process. Bagley then called someone with authority to stop any sale of the home, but only received voice messages that the mailbox was full. The application never arrived.

The key to passage of the bankruptcy bill is the Senate, where Democrats need 60 votes to stop a possible filibuster. Ten Democrats — all still in the Senate — would not back the plan in a vote a year ago.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chief Senate sponsor of the bill, said Obama persuaded him in a White House meeting Friday to remove the bankruptcy proposal from an economic recovery package — to ensure it doesn’t jeopardize the stimulus bill. But Obama pledged his support for the bankruptcy solution, Durbin said.

Obama said he would work with Durbin to attach the proposal to other “must pass” legislation — with the hope that supporters of the overall bill would not vote against it because of the bankruptcy provisions.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, which represents 2,400 member companies in the real estate property industry, spent $3.8 million and the American Bankers Association totaled $6.8 million.

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