|2:09 PM EDT||
Jeb Hensarling, R-TX 5th
Mr. HENSARLING. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I first come here somewhat amused at the lecture that some of us received from the majority leader last evening on abuse of process. I hear many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say that we have a housing crisis and that this is one of the single most important bills to come to this floor in this Congress. And yet here we are, as the minority, not being allowed any amendments, not being allowed a substitute, not being allowed a motion to recommit, not even being allowed to have
an up-or-down vote on the bill. And we're accused of an abusive process?
But enough of that.
Let's look at the substance of this. There is a great challenge in our housing markets. There is no doubt about it. And there are innocent people who have suffered, and they deserve to be helped. But this is the wrong plan.
What we need to do, Mr. Speaker, is, number one, we have to have better disclosure so that people understand the economic obligations they're undertaking. We need to enforce the laws that we have on the books. Mortgage fraud has been rampant on both the borrowers' side and on the lenders' side.
We need to prevent the automatic tax increase that has been included in the majority's budget that's going to impose a $3,000-a-year on the average American family tax increase phased in over the next 3 years. We need to do something about the skyrocketing cost of gasoline and food that has occurred on the watch of the majority. They've been in charge of the economic policies of this country for almost 18 months.
The shrinking American paycheck is our challenge. A huge bailout of Wall Street and borrowers, some who may be innocent victims and some who may be guilty, is not the answer, and using taxpayers' money to do it is simply an insult.
Number one, we ought to have the facts before we actually take on a major piece of legislation. The American people need to know. Over half of America rents their homes or owns their home outright. Of those who have an active mortgage, 95 percent are making their mortgage payments on time. You have roughly 2 percent who are in foreclosure. So now we're being asked essentially for 98 percent of America to bail out 2 percent of America.
Now listen. On the investors' side, these are a big bunch of boys and girls on Wall Street who made decisions about what they should invest in. We know from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network that mortgage fraud has been rampant: 1,400 percent increase over the last 6 years; 42 percent increase last year alone, with the majority of the fraud being borrowers who lied about their income, about their assets, about their occupancy; and yet we have a bill to help them out.
Let's hear from some of the people who are being called upon to do the bailout. I often ask people who reside in the Fifth Congressional District of Texas that I have the honor of representing what they think about legislation coming to the House floor. And I hear from people like the Sadler family in Mesquite, Texas, and they write:
``Congressman, 3 years ago my husband and I faced the loss of our home due to a decrease in the sales income. We cut our expenses as much as possible, but it was simply no longer affordable. We made the decision to put the home on the market before we faced foreclosure.
``I am adamantly opposed to my tax dollars going toward bailing anyone out of a mortgage crisis. If we didn't have to give up so much of our income to the government for taxes, we could have continued to afford our home.''
And what is the answer of the Democrat majority? Well, to the Sadler family in Mesquite, we're going to increase your taxes an extra $3,000 a year.
Mr. Speaker, I heard from Sergeant First Class Kenneth Adams of Frankston, Texas. He writes:
``Congressman, the mortgage crisis Congress is trying to fix is an insult. My house went unpainted until I could return from serving in Iraq. I'm a Sergeant First Class in the United States [Page: H3294]
Army with over 20 years active and reserve service. Some day I would like to use my VA house-buying benefits, but what a fool I was to earn those type of benefits when all I had to do was be irresponsible, overspend, and have the government bail me out.''
That's the answer that the Democrat majority brings to the floor, and it is an insult to 98 percent of Americans who did it right.
Mr. Speaker, we should reject this legislation.