The plan

It was always the plan to pretend we were going to help people with their mortgages without actually helping them. Progress!

A year after five of the nation’s biggest banks reached a pact with state and federal officials over claims of vast foreclosure abuses, the banks are taking credit for giving more than half a million struggling homeowners roughly $45.8 billion in relief.


But despite the banner numbers released on Thursday in a report by Joseph A. Smith, the independent overseer of the settlement, thousands of homeowners are still not getting the help they need to save their homes from foreclosure, according to interviews with housing advocates and homeowners facing foreclosure.


Just under 71,000 borrowers, or 13 percent of the total borrowers helped so far, received assistance on their primary mortgage, which has been the main source of defaults and foreclosures through the housing crisis. But more than 170,000 homeowners received assistance on their second mortgage, which typically is a home equity line of credit that borrowers can tap for cash.


Even though addressing second mortgages does offer some relief to homeowners, in a troubling number of instances the banks are not providing any help with the first mortgage, the housing advocates said. That leaves the homeowners still in jeopardy of losing their homes, while giving banks credit for restructuring loans or wiping out debt under the settlement.


“The second mortgage forgiveness is basically a loophole, which allows the banks to continue foreclosures unabated,” said Elizabeth M. Lynch, a lawyer at MFY Legal Services in New York.


Based on the monitor’s report, it is impossible to tell how many homeowners who received help on their second mortgage are still facing foreclosure on their first mortgage. Ms. Lynch and other advocates estimate that thousands of homeowners across the country are in that predicament.

Justice

Years ago, after reading an Inquirer puff piece about this woman, I wrote the reporter who did the story and pointed out that she was a Dominionist, which meant she believed lying in the service of her ultimate goal — a theocratic state — was perfectly okay. The reporter blew me off. I guess my instincts were better than his.

Staying stupid

Joe Conason on why young Republicans can’t change their party:

The young Republicans bitterly mock the Romney campaign’s technological ineptitude, and complain more broadly about the party’s repellent reputation among young voters, minorities, gays, immigrants, women and everyone sympathetic to them. They largely seem to believe that if the Republican National Committee would hire people like them—and if Rush Limbaugh and Todd Akin would simply shut the eff up—then the party could expand beyond its narrow, aging, white, and religiously conservative base.


As they hasten to assure Draper, these dissidents would adopt a friendlier attitude toward those who are different and are even eager to engineer a few minor platform alterations to accommodate immigrants or gays.


But why would they make such concessions to decency? Not out of any sense of justice or shame. They are not interested in social justice and they only feel ashamed of losing. Rather than honestly confronting the harm done by pandering to bigotry and division, they’d prefer to paper it over with a smiley face and move on.


By proclaiming that their defeats are due mainly to technological inferiority or bad messaging, the young Republicans ignore the underlying source of popular disdain for their party. It is true that their technology was feeble, their candidate and consultants were incompetent, and their messaging was often repellent. But the self-styled hipsters of the right are in fact not much different from the Tea Party octogenarians in their hostility to government investment, social insurance, health care, education, and industry – and both are in conflict with the evolving attitudes of young Americans across all demographic lines.

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