As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Banks Still Rule Washington, But The Shareholder Meetings?

The bad news is that the Senate is on the verge of gutting that mortgage "cram-down" bill, removing the ability for bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of loans for primary residences of people facing foreclosure.

Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) have indicated to the Huffington Post that they oppose the bill's central measure -- giving bankruptcy judges the power to reduce, or cramdown, a homeowner's mortgage payment under bankruptcy proceedings.

That provision is on the chopping block.

"The bill that the House sent us is a very, very good bill, a very good bill," said Reid. "It would be a terrific bill if we had cramdown in it and it'll still be a good bill if that's not in it."

Cramdown, however, is the guts of the bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Huffington Post.

"Well, it wouldn't be a bankruptcy reform bill without cramdown in it," she said.

The two versions of the bill would need to be reconciled in a conference committee. "I strongly support [cramdown], but we'll see what happens on the Senate floor," said Pelosi.

I can tell you what will happen, the banking lobby refuses to relinquish the power they hold, and will squash efforts to write down these loans. Because the banks, in the words of Dick Durbin, own the place. So despite the facts that the lenders committed clear acts of fraud on practically all of their customers when handing out the loans, the people will get no relief with the only tool available to them to ensure a level playing field when they try to rewrite the terms.

On the flip side, a shareholder revolt led by institutional investors, state pension funds, union leaders and everyday people got Ken Lewis fired as the chairman of Bank of America. He remains on as CEO but lost the chairmanship to Walter Massey. This may not mean a hell of a lot on its own, but it's a powerful symbol of the anger felt by people out in the country with the banksters. And this will only grow. If Congress refuses to take action on these executives, maybe the people will hold them to account.

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