Obama failed to mitigate America's foreclosure crisis

Obama the candidate ran on allowing bankruptcy judges to cut balances on primary mortgages; Obama’s administration actively whipped against the policy. Obama’s transition team earmarked up to $100 billion in funds appropriated through Bush’s bank bailout to mitigate foreclosures; eight years later only around $21 billion has been spent. Obama the president promised 4 million mortgage modifications; to date less than a million have been successfully achieved.

No Republican sign-off was necessary for Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The Treasury Department alone decided to run it through mortgage companies that had financial incentives to foreclose rather than modify loans. Treasury never saw the program as a relief vehicle, but a way to “foam the runway” for the banks, allowing them to absorb inevitable foreclosures more slowly. Homeowners were the foam being crushed by a jumbo jet in that scenario, squeezed for as many payments as possible before ultimately losing their homes.

Worst of all, most of these foreclosures were executed fraudulently. Banks neglected centuries-old property records laws, and used millions of forged and fabricated documents as evidence in courtrooms and county offices to paper over their mistakes. When this came to light in fall 2010, the leading mortgage companies stopped foreclosing because they could no longer do so legally.

But Obama’s Justice Department did not use this newfound leverage to obtain equitable solutions for struggling families.