|12:57 PM EDT||
Kevin Brady, R-TX 8th
Mr. BRADY of Texas. Thank you, Mr. Reynolds, for your leadership on our economic issues here in Congress.
Mr. Speaker, a principle that is before us today is that Congress should not be bailing out speculators, lenders, or investors who have behaved irresponsibly.
If you bought a home that is too big for you, that you couldn't afford from the get-go, or you were betting that property values would go up in your region, that's tough.
If you lent money without income or means of those who were borrowing it, or you preyed, you preyed on people who didn't know better and then churned their loan repeatedly, that's tough. If you purchased securities without determining if the loans underlying them were sound, that is your problem. That is not the taxpayers', that is not your next-door neighbor's problem.
We do have a role in Congress and it is this, to address this issue: One, we should make sure that there is available, affordable credit for creditworthy borrowers. We need to make sure that we prevent this from occurring again. And we need to punish, aggressively punish, the bad actors who have infected our entire American economy.
The proposal we have before us today is well intentioned, clearly. I think Republicans and Democrats agree on the need to help where we can. It is well intentioned. It is not particularly effective. I have my doubts that it will help much at all. It is too little, too slow, too unfocused. It is, as you would imagine, a typical Washington reaction.
For example, a provision to allow States to have more authority for low income housing. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, we need more of that. That housing likely, knowing the process that works here, in the State of Texas and others, it will probably be 3 years before anyone moves into housing of that caliber. Way too late for this problem.
The property tax deduction for seniors who don't itemize, you always want to help people with their property taxes. But is a retired person really going to take $350 and buy a new home or buy a foreclosed home in their neighborhood? Not likely.
Even the tax credit for first-time homebuyers, a part that, I think, the philosophy of which I really like. But this no-interest loan is structured so low, $7,500, it won't allow them to buy a home. There are not many $75,000 homes on the market. If it's only a 5 percent down payment, there are, truthfully, not very many $150,000 homes that are in the areas of America that actually have massive foreclosures. Those tend to be either in the depressed areas or in the high-value States where a lot
of people did bet on rising property values.
So I like the philosophy of it. I don't think it will help much. Thankfully it won't hurt. It won't hurt. There are good things in this bill. The FHA modernization and the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac I think are exactly appropriate.
But if our goal is to make sure we have available credit for creditworthy borrowers, I think this bill is a poor alternative to the Hope Alliance, which is moving faster and more effectively today and covering more than 90 percent of those who have mortgages and could have problems, or has already worked with 1.4 million families who need help moving them into new loans or moderating the loan they have today. And they are doing that without taxpayers underwriting any potential loss. That is,
I think, the approach that works best and is already proven to work.
I will finish with this. I have said that there is nothing patently offensive in the amendment from Ways and Means. In fact, again, I think it is well intentioned. But in the underlying bill by Chairman Frank, there is something that is especially offensive.
I come from Texas. Our region was destroyed in Hurricane Rita, a hurricane that was stronger than Hurricane Katrina. We lost 70,000 homes that were damaged or destroyed. We lost more than $1 billion of our timber industry, our main crop. We still have 10 percent of our families who haven't moved back to southeast Texas because they don't have housing. Yet in Chairman Frank's underlying bill, he creates an affordable housing fund and dedicates $500 million to Louisiana and Mississippi
to help rebuild housing in those areas. And yet for the same hurricane, and Hurricane Rita, in the communities that actually took in the Katrina families as they fled that hurricane, and then those same families have their own roofs torn off in southeast Texas, this bill says, ``Drop dead. Forget it. We are going to help those who are on this side of the hurricane.''