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Obama Administration Withholds Home Foreclosure Aid to Hardest Hit

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Obama cries crocodile tears about what the Republicans in Congress won’t let him do. But he allowed more than $7 billion in TARP money set aside for worst hit victims of the housing crisis to sit, unspent, in Treasury Department accounts, for two years. “No wonder most people think TARP is only concerned with bailing out the banks. The Obama administration has treated it that way.”

 

Obama Administration Withholds Home Foreclosure Aid to Hardest Hit

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Treasury Secretary Geithner sat on the homeowners’ relief money for two years, because his boss wanted it that way.”

The Obama administration’s indifference to the plight of foreclosed homeowners, and total subservience to the banks, is once again on public display. According to a report by the Special Inspector General of the TARP program, the administration has spent only a tiny fraction of the money it was allocated to help those most negatively impacted by the housing collapse. In two years, only a little over 30,000 households have been helped, at a cost of $217 million. That’s only 3 percent of the $7.6 billion TARP is authorized to spend through its Hardest Hit Fund.

No wonder most people think TARP – the Troubled Asset Relief Fund – is only concerned with bailing out the banks. The Obama administration has treated it that way, even though Congress intended a portion of that money to help homeowners recover from the damage the banks had done.

From the day he was sworn in – and even before that, on the campaign trail – Obama has behaved as if the welfare of the banks is all that matters. Tim Geithner, the man he appointed to head the Treasury Department, which in turn runs the TARP program, is a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. A previous Inspector General of TARP reported, back in the summer of 2009, that the bank bailout might cost as much as $24 trillion – approaching twice the size of the gross domestic product of the United States. $7.4 trillion of that was to come out of TARP and other Treasury Department programs. That’s more than a thousand times more money than the $7.6 billion set aside for the hardest hit homeowners – but Geithner couldn’t even bring himself to spend that paltry sum on TARP’s Hardest Hit Fund, so almost all of the money has been sitting there, doing nothing for anybody, for the last two years.

Obama has behaved as if the welfare of the banks is all that matters.”

Obama apologists will probably claim the president didn’t know that his Treasury Secretary was withholding billions of dollars in aid to the worst hit victims of the housing crisis – which means, they’ll believe anything.

The reason Geithner didn’t spend the Hardest Hit Fund money is because he, like other bankers, believes that helping homeowners in crisis amounts to tampering with “the market” – a euphemism for Wall Street. Obama thinks that way, too. In early 2008, Obama alone, among the three Democratic presidential candidates in the running, rejected out of hand proposals for a moratorium on home foreclosures. He didn’t want to put a cap on mortgage rates, either. Candidates John Edwards and Hillary Clinton supported mandatory or voluntary moratoriums, respectively – but not Obama. He had already made his deal with Wall Street – and he’s kept his promises to the super-rich. Treasury Secretary Geithner sat on the homeowners’ relief money for two years, because his boss wanted it that way.

The Congressional Black Caucus begged Obama to target foreclosure relief funds to areas that were hurt worst by the meltdown – which overlaps with the geography of Black America. That’s what the $7.6 billion dollars in the Hardest Hit Fund was supposed to do. The Black Caucus was shamelessly betrayed by the First Black President. The homes of hundreds of thousands of their constituents could have been saved, but the Obama Team outright refused to spend money lying right there in the accounts. What will the Caucus do? Pretend that it never happened. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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