Full Text February 4, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address Calling on Congress to Pass his Program to Help Responsible Homeowners Refinance their Mortagages as Part of his Blueprint for an Economy Built to Last

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama continues his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address
President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 2/3/12

Weekly Address: It’s Time for Congress to Act to Help Responsible Homeowners

Source: WH, 2-4-12
President Obama continues his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.
Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

WEEKLY ADDRESS: It’s Time for Congress to Act to Help Responsible Homeowners

In this week’s address, President Obama continued his call for a return to American values, including fairness and equality, as part of his blueprint for an economy built to last.  This is why the President is sending Congress his plan to give responsible homeowners the chance to save thousands of dollars on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates without adding a cent to the deficit.  The housing crisis has been the single largest drag on the recovery, and although the Administration’s actions have helped responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages and stay in their homes, Congress must act now to do more to continue assisting homeowners and the economy.  President Obama asks all Americans to tell their elected officials to pass this plan to keep more families in their homes and more neighborhoods thriving and whole.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
Saturday, February 4, 2012

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling around the country and talking with folks about my blueprint for an economy built to last.  It’s a blueprint that focuses on restoring the things we’ve always done best.  Our strengths.  American manufacturing.  American energy.  The skills and education of American workers.

And most importantly, American values like fairness and responsibility.

We know what happened when we strayed from those values over the past decade – especially when it comes to our housing market.

Lenders sold loans to families who couldn’t afford them.  Banks packaged those mortgages up and traded them for phony profits.  It drove up prices and created an unsustainable bubble that burst – and left millions of families who did everything right in a world of hurt.

It was wrong.  The housing crisis has been the single biggest drag on our recovery from the recession.  It has kept millions of families in debt and unable to spend, and it has left hundreds of thousands of construction workers out of a job.

But there’s something even more important at stake.  I’ve been saying this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class.  And the housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle-class in this country: owning a home.  Raising our kids.  Building our dreams.

Right now, there are more than 10 million homeowners in this country who, because of a decline in home prices that is no fault of their own, owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.  Now, it is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.  I don’t accept that.  None of us should.

That’s why we launched a plan a couple years ago that’s helped nearly one million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages and save an average of $300 on their payments each month.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit it didn’t help as many folks as we’d hoped.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying.

That’s why I’m sending Congress a plan that will give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates.  No more red tape.  No more endless forms.  And a small fee on the largest financial institutions will make sure it doesn’t add a dime to the deficit.

I want to be clear: this plan will not help folks who bought a house they couldn’t afford and then walked away from it.  It won’t help folks who bought multiple houses just to turn around and sell them.

What this plan will do is help millions of responsible homeowners who make their payments every month, but who, until now, couldn’t refinance because their home values kept dropping or they got wrapped up in too much red tape.

But here’s the catch.  In order to lower mortgage payments for millions of Americans, we need Congress to act.  They’re the ones who have to pass this plan.  And as anyone who has followed the news in the last six months can tell you, getting Congress to do anything these days is not an easy job.

That’s why I’m going to keep up the pressure on Congress to do the right thing.  But I also need your help.  I need your voice.  I need everyone who agrees with this plan to get on the phone, send an email, tweet, pay a visit, and remind your representatives in Washington who they work for.  Tell them to pass this plan.  Tell them to help more families keep their homes, and more neighborhoods stay vibrant and whole.

The truth is, it will take time for our housing market to recover.  It will take time for our economy to fully bounce back.  But there are steps we can take, right now, to move this country forward.  That’s what I promise to do as your President, and I hope Members of Congress will join me.

Thank you, and have a great weekend.

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Full Text February 1, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech About Ways to Help Homeowners Refinance their Mortgages with New Housing Program the Homeowners Bill of Rights

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

America Built to Last

President Obama wants to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages at today’s historically low interest rates. Learn more.

President Obama talks about housing and the Homeowners Bill of Rights

President Obama talks about housing and the Homeowners Bill of Rights, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/1/12

 

President Obama Talks About Ways to Help Homeowners

Source: WH, 2-1-12

Today, in Falls Church, Virginia, President Obama expanded on the ideas he first presented in the State of the Union on ways to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages.

Here are more details about that plan.

But the President also said that we can’t wait on Congress to take action to help working families in this country:

Already, we’ve set up a special task force I asked my Attorney General to establish to investigate the kind of activity banks took when they packaged and sold risky mortgages.  And that task force is ramping up its work as we speak. We’re going to keep at it and hold people who broke the law accountable and help restore confidence in the market.  We’re going to speed assistance to homeowners. And we’re going to turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many hardworking Americans.

Read the full remarks here. Or watch the video to learn more.
Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (183MB) | mp3 (18MB)
 

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Housing

James Lee Community Center
Falls Church, Virginia

11:05 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Everybody please have a seat.  Have a seat.  It is great to be back in Falls Church.  (Applause.)  Thank you for having me.

Last week, in my State of the Union, I laid out my blueprint for an economy that’s built to last.  And I want to assure you I am not going to go over the whole thing again this morning.  (Laughter.)  That was a long speech.  I’m not going to repeat the whole thing.  (Laughter.)  But I do want to talk about some of the issues that I discussed last week because the blueprint we put forward was one that focuses on restoring what have always been this country’s greatest strengths — American manufacturing, American energy, skills and education for American workers so that we can compete with anybody around the world in this 21st century economy, and most importantly, the American values of fairness and responsibility.  Fairness and responsibility.  (Applause.)

Now, we know what happens, because we’ve just seen it — what happened when we stray from those values.  We saw what happened over the past decade when we strayed from those values  — especially when it comes to the massive housing bubble that burst and hurt so many people.  Millions of families who did the right and the responsible thing, folks who shopped for a home that they could afford, secured a mortgage, made their payments each month — they were hurt badly by the irresponsible actions of other people who weren’t playing by the same rules, weren’t taking the same care, weren’t acting as responsibly.  By lenders who sold loans to people who they knew couldn’t afford the mortgages; and buyers who bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford; and banks that packaged those mortgages up and traded them to reap phantom profits, knowing that they were building a house of cards.

It was wrong.  It was wrong.  It triggered the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  And it has been the single biggest drag on our recovery from a terrible recession.  Crushing debt has kept millions of consumers from spending.  A lack of building demand has kept hundreds of thousands of construction workers idle.  Everybody involved in the home-building business  — folks who make windows, folks who make carpets — they’ve all been impacted.  The challenge is massive in size and in scope, because we’ve got a multitrillion-dollar housing industry.  And economists can tell you how it’s affected all sorts of statistics, from GDP to consumer confidence.

But what’s at stake is more than just statistics.  It’s personal.  I’ve been saying that this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class.  And this housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America:  our homes — the place where we invest our nest egg, place where we raise our family, the place where we plant roots in a community, the place where we build memories.

It’s personal.  It affects so much of how people feel about their lives, about their communities, about the country, about the economy.  We need to do everything in our power to repair the damage and make responsible families whole again.  Everything we can.  (Applause.)

Now, the truth is it’s going to take more time than any of us would like for the housing market to fully recover from this crisis.  This was a big bubble, and when it burst it had a big effect.  Home prices started a pretty steady decline about five years ago.  And government certainly can’t fix the entire problem on its own.  But it is wrong for anybody to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom.  (Applause.)  I refuse to accept that, and so do the American people.

There are more than 10 million homeowners across the country right now who, because of an unprecedented decline in home prices that is no fault of their own, owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth.  It means your mortgage, your house is underwater.

Here in Falls Church, home values have fallen by about a quarter from their peak.  In places like Las Vegas, more than half of all homeowners are underwater.  More than half.  So it’s going to take a while for those prices to rise again.  But there are actions we can take right now to provide some relief to folks who’ve been responsible, have done the right thing, and are making their payments on time.

Already, thanks to the outstanding work, in part, of my Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun Donovan, who’s here today — (applause) — yes, there he is, the good-looking guy in the front here.  (Laughter.)  The housing plan we launched a couple years ago has helped nearly 1 million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages, and they’re saving an average of $300 on their payments each month — $300 — which is great.  (Applause.)

But I’ll be honest — the programs that we put forward haven’t worked at the scale that we hoped.  Not as many people have taken advantage of it as we wanted.  Mortgage rates are as low as they’ve been in half a century, and when that happens, usually homeowners flock to refinance their mortgages — so a lot of people take advantage of it and save a lot of money.  But this time too many families haven’t been able to take advantage of the low rates, because falling prices lock them out of the market.  They were underwater; made it more difficult for them to refinance.

Then you’ve got all the fees involved in refinancing.  And a lot of people just said, you know what, even though I’d like to be, obviously, cutting down my monthly payment, the banks just aren’t being real encouraging.

So last year we took aggressive action that allowed more families to participate.  And today we’re doing even more.  This is the main reason I’m here today.  (Applause.)

As I indicated at the State of the Union last week, I am sending Congress a plan that will give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low rates.  (Applause.)  No more red tape.  No more runaround from the banks. And a small fee on the largest financial institutions will make sure it doesn’t add to our deficit.

I want to be clear:  This plan, like the other actions we’ve taken, will not help the neighbors down the street who bought a house they couldn’t afford, and then walked away and left a foreclosed home behind.  It’s not designed for those who’ve acted irresponsibly, but it can help those who’ve acted responsibly.  It’s not going to help those who bought multiple homes just to speculate and flip the house and make a quick buck, but it can help those who’ve acted responsibly.

What this plan will do is help millions of responsible homeowners who make their payments on time but find themselves trapped under falling home values or wrapped up in red tape.

If you’re ineligible for refinancing just because you’re underwater on your mortgage, through no fault of your own, this plan changes that.  You’ll be able to refinance at a lower rate. You’ll be able to save hundreds of dollars a month that you can put back in your pocket.  Or you can choose those savings to rebuild equity in your homes, which will help most underwater homeowners come back up for air more quickly.

Now, to move this part of my plan, we’re going to need Congress to act.  We’re going to need Congress to act.  I hear some — (laughter) — murmuring in the audience here.  We need them to act.  But we’re not just going to wait for Congress.  We’re going to keep building a firewall to prevent the same kinds of abuses that led this crisis — led to this crisis in the first place.  So there are things we can do administratively that are also going to help responsible homeowners.  (Applause.)

Already, we’ve set up a special task force I asked my Attorney General to establish to investigate the kind of activity banks took when they packaged and sold risky mortgages.  (Applause.)  And that task force is ramping up its work as we speak.  We’re going to keep at it and hold people who broke the law accountable and help restore confidence in the market.  We’re going to speed assistance to homeowners.  And we’re going to turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many hardworking Americans.  (Applause.)

Today, I’m also proposing a Homeowners Bill of Rights — one straightforward set of common-sense rules of the road that every family knows they can count on when they’re shopping for a mortgage.  No more hidden fees or conflicts of interest.  No more getting the runaround when you call about your loan.  No more fine print that you used to get families to take a deal that is not as good as the one they should have gotten.  New safeguards against inappropriate foreclosures.  New options to avoid foreclosure if you’ve fallen on hardship or a run of bad luck.  (Applause.)  And a new, simple, clear form for new buyers of a home.  (Applause.)

Now, think about it.  This is the most important purchase a family makes.  But how many of you have had to deal with overly complicated mortgage forms and hidden clauses and complex terms? I remember when Michelle and I bought our first condo — and we’re both lawyers.  (Laughter.)  And we’re looking through the forms and kind of holding it up — (laughter) — reading it again — “What does this phrase mean?”  And that’s for two trained lawyers.  The forms, the confusion, the potential for abuse is too great just because the forms were too complicated.

So this is what a mortgage form should look like.  This is it.  (Applause.)  Now that our new consumer watchdog agency is finally running at full steam — (applause) — now that Richard Cordray is in as the Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau — (applause) — they’re moving forward on important protections like this new, shorter mortgage form.  Simple, not complicated.  Informative, not confusing.  Terms are clear.  Fees are transparent.

This, by the way, is what some of the folks in Congress are trying to roll back and prevent from happening.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  I guess they like complicated things that confuse consumers and allow them to be cheated.  I prefer actions that are taken to make things simpler and easier to understand for consumers — (applause) — so that they can get the best deal possible, especially on the biggest single investment that most people will ever make.  (Applause.)

Americans making a down payment on their dreams shouldn’t be terrified by pages and pages of fine print.  They should be confident they’re making the right decision for their future.

There’s more that we’re announcing today.  We’re working to turn more foreclosed homes into rental housing, because as we know and a lot of families know, that empty house or “for sale” sign down the block can bring down the price of homes across the neighborhood.  We’re working to make sure people don’t lose their homes just because they lose their jobs.  These are steps that can make a concrete difference in people’s lives right now.  (Applause.)

As I said earlier, no program or policy will solve all the problems in a multitrillion-dollar housing market.  The heights of the housing bubble reached before it burst, those were unsustainable, and it’s going to take time to fully recover.  That requires everybody to do their part.

As much as our economic challenges were born of eroding home values and portfolio values, they were also born of an erosion of some old-fashioned American values.  An economy that’s built to last, that’s on a firm foundation, so that middle-class families have a sense of security and those who want to get in the middle class can make it if they’re working hard — that demands responsibility from everyone.

Government must take responsibility for rules that are fair and fairly enforced.  (Applause.)  Banks and lenders must be held accountable for ending the practices that helped cause this crisis in the first place.  (Applause.)  And all of us have to take responsibility for our own actions — or lack of action.  (Applause.)

So I urge Congress to act.  Pass this plan.  Help more families keep their homes.  Help more neighborhoods remain vibrant.  Help keep more dreams defended and alive.  And I promise you that I’ll keep doing everything I can to make the future brighter for this community, for this commonwealth, for this country.

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
11:24 A.M. EST

White House Recap October 21-28, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Created Executive Action to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs — Ended the War in Iraq & Urged Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act

White House Recap October 21-28, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Created Exceutive Action to Grow the Economy & Create Jobs — Ended the War in Iraq & Urged Congress to Pass the American Jobs Act

 

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: OCTOBER 21-28, 2011

This week, the President kept his promise and announced the end of the war in Iraq, headed west to urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act while announcing new executive actions that will help middle class families.

West Wing Week

Weekly Wrap Up: “We Can’t Wait”

Source: WH, 10-28-11
Helping Homeowners After Republicans in the Senate blocked the jobs bill yet again, President Obama hit the road with a new message,“We Can’t Wait.” The President decided to take executive action to create jobs and put money back in the pockets of Americans. While in Las Vegas, the President announced steps to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, helping responsible borrowers with little or no equity in their homes take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates.

Modifying Student Loans On a snowy day in Colorado, President Obama announced a new effort that will help borrowers better manage their student loan debt. He said he will move forward with A “Pay As You Earn” program that will reduce monthly payments for more than 1.6 million people. Starting in 2014, borrowers will be able to reduce their monthly student loan payments from 15 percent to 10 percent of their discretionary income.

Hiring Veterans The Obama Administration challenged each of the 8,000 Community Health Centers around the country to hire one veteran, effectively opening up 8,000 jobs to our unemployed veterans. These health centers, which provide primary care services in typically underserved areas, are a major piece of President Obama’s historic health care reform law.

We The People On Wednesday, President Obama’s top education advisors issued the first response to a petition created through the online petition site, We The People. The response addressed the petition “Taking Action to Reduce the Burden of Student Loan Debt”. The Administration recognized the high cost of education and moved forward to reduce monthly loan payments formore than1.6 million people. The online tool that allows Americans to voice their opinions to the government has had around755,000 people use the platform to create or sign more than 12,400 petitions.

Tonight Show The President flew to L.A. to appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The two talked about Libya, the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and reality television — including a show on C-SPAN called ‘Congress.’

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