Full Text Obama Presidency May 11, 2012: President Barack Obama Calls for a Simpler Refinancing Process for Homeowners in Statement in Reno, Nevada

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama is calling on Congress to cut red tape and make it simpler for responsible homeowners to refinance

President Obama with Valerie and Paul Keller in Reno, Nevada

President Obama with Valerie and Paul Keller in Reno, Nevada, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/11/12

President Obama Calls for a Simpler Refinancing Process

Source: WH, 5-11-12

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to neighbors at the home of Valerie and Paul Keller (May 11, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to neighbors at the home of Valerie and Paul Keller in Reno, Nevada, May 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today in Nevada, President Obama pushed Congress to cut red tape and make it simpler for responsible homeowners to refinance and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates.

First, he sat down with Val and Paul Keller — two homeowners from Reno. They were able to refinance their mortgage after the President made changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program, and because of that, they’re currently saving around $240 a month.

The President said that their experience is one that should be open to more Americans:

The pool of folks who can refinance right now, when their homes are underwater, is still too small. The reason the Kellers were able to refinance is because the only thing that we could do without congressional action was to give opportunities for refinancing for folks with a government-backed loan, an FHA-backed loan. But in order to expand that opportunity — we want to include everybody; people whose mortgages aren’t government-backed. And in order to do that we’ve got to have Congress move.

President Obama’s refinancing proposal is part of his To-Do List for Congress. To learn more, and watch a video from one of his economic advisors explaining how the President’s plan would help homeowners more easily refinance their mortgages, click here.


Learn More

Related Topics: Economy, ToDo List, Nevada

Remarks by the President on Helping Responsible Homeowners

Private Residence
Reno, Nevada

12:00 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  (Applause.)  And thank you for arranging a beautiful day.  This is just a spectacular afternoon and I’m thrilled to be here.

We all know how difficult these past few years have been for this country, but especially for this state.  After the worst recession in our lifetimes — a crisis that followed the collapse of the housing market — it’s going to take a long time for the economy to fully recover.  More time than any of us would like.  But there are plenty of steps that we can take to speed up the recovery right now.  There are things we can do right now to help create jobs and help restore some of the financial security that too many families have lost.

Now, I have to say that there are a few too many Republicans in Congress who don’t seem to be as optimistic as we are.  They think that all we can do are try the things that have been done in the past — things that they’ve tried in the past.  So they want to cut more taxes, especially for the wealthiest Americans.  They want to cut back on the rules that we put in place for banks and financial institutions.  They’ve said that they want to let the housing market hit bottom, and just hope for the best.  That’s it.  We’ve heard those ideas before.  That’s their economic agenda.  And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t buy it.  I think they’re wrong.

We tried their ideas for nearly a decade and they didn’t work.  And I refuse to sell this country short by going back to the exact same ideas that helped to get us in this mess in the first place.  Our goal is to build an economy where hard work and responsibility are rewarded — where you can find a good job, make a good wage, own your own home, maybe start a business, send your kids to college.  Hopefully, their lives will be even better than ours.  That’s what I wish for Malia and Sasha, and I know you guys feel the same way who have kids.

And that’s where we need to go.  I’ve been pushing Congress to help us get there by passing a few common-sense policies that we’re convinced will make a difference.  We even made a handy “To-Do” list for Congress so they can just check them off — it’s a list like Michelle gives me.  (Laughter.)  I know Paul is familiar with that list.  He gets it from Val.

Now, there are only five things on this list — because I don’t want to overload Congress with too much at once.  But they’re ideas that will help create jobs and build a stronger economy right now.

So first up on the list — it makes absolutely no sense that we actually give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs and factories overseas.  That doesn’t make any sense at all.  (Applause.)  So we told Congress it’s time to end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and use that money to cover moving expenses for companies that bring jobs back to America.  (Applause.)

Second, instead of just talking about job creators, Congress should help small businesses and help small business owners who create most of the new jobs in America.  So we want to give them a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages.

The third thing on our “To-Do” list — Congress should extend tax credits that are set to expire for our clean energy companies.  These businesses are putting folks to work here in this state of Nevada.  Last time I was here, in fact, I went to see a huge solar plant, solar energy plant.  A lot of folks are working both in the construction of it and maintaining it.  That’s happening all across the country.  And so we’ve got to make sure that we are helping those folks, because that helps us break our dependence on foreign oil.  Over the long term that will help drive down gas prices and it puts people to work right now.  It’s the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

Fourth, Congress should create a Veterans Jobs Corps so that we can help communities hire returning heroes — our veterans — as cops and firefighters and employees at national parks — because nobody who fights for this country should ever have to come home and fight for a job or fight for a roof over their heads.  (Applause.)

All right, so that’s four — which brings me to the fifth.  The fifth thing on the list, and that’s why I’m here today.  I’m calling on Congress to give every responsible homeowner the chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage.  It’s a simple idea.  (Applause.)  It makes great sense.  And I know it will have an impact.

Last October, I was in Clark County, where I announced new steps to help responsible homeowners refinance their homes.  And at the time, Congress wasn’t willing to act, so we did.  We went ahead and did what we could do administratively, without a new law being passed.  And as a result, Americans who were previously stuck in high interest loans have been able to take advantage of these lower rates.  And they’ve been able to save thousands of dollars every year.

And it turns out that two of those people are your neighbors, Paul and Valerie Keller.  (Applause.)  So I just had a chance to visit with Paul and Valerie and look at their beautiful home and check out the grill out back.  (Laughter.)  Valerie says Paul is a pretty good cook, so I’m going to take her word for it.

The Kellers have lived in this house for 14 years.  Val works nearby, helping secure loans for farmers and ranchers.  Paul is a retired electrical contractor who started a family business with their son.  Last year, with mortgage rates at historic lows, the Kellers decided it would make sense for them to refinance.  They thought it would be easy, since they’re current on their mortgage, they make their payments on time.  So this is an example of responsible homeowners doing the right thing.

But when they tried to refinance, they were told they couldn’t do it.  Because the Kellers’ house, like thousands of others in this state and probably some of the neighbors here, their house is underwater, which means that the price is currently lower than what they owe on it.  So they were hit — you were hit with a historic drop in housing prices which caused the value of the homes in their neighborhood to plummet.  And a lot of banks historically have said, well, we’re not going to refinance you if your home is underwater.

Now, luckily, the Kellers saw my announcement that I had made down in Clark County.  So I’m assuming it must have been Val because whenever something smart is done, it’s usually the wife in the house.  (Laughter.)

So they called their lender, and within a few months, within 90 days, they were able to refinance under this new program that we set up.  Their monthly mortgage bill has now dropped $240 dollars a month, and that means every year they’re saving close to $3000.  (Applause.)

Now, Val says that they’ve been talking to some of their neighbors — maybe some of you are here today — and you’re saying, well, that sounds like a pretty good idea.  And a lot of folks across the country recognize this is a smart thing to do not only for homeowners but for our economy, because if Paul and Val have an extra $240, $250 a month, then they might spend it on the local business.  They might go to a restaurant a little more often.  They might spoil their grandkids even more.  (Laughter.)  And that means more money in the economy, and businesses do better, and slowly home prices start rising again.  So it makes sense for all of us.

And the good news is, since I’ve made this announcement, refinancing applications have gone up by 50 percent nationwide and 230 percent here in Nevada alone.  That’s the good news.  People are taking advantage of this.  (Applause.)  That’s what we want to see.

But here’s the only catch — and this is where you come in, because you’re going to have to pressure Congress:  The pool of folks who can refinance right now, when their homes are underwater, is still too small.  The reason the Kellers were able to refinance is because the only thing that we could do without congressional action was to give opportunities for refinancing for folks with a government-backed loan, an FHA-backed loan.  But in order to expand that opportunity — we want to include everybody; people whose mortgages aren’t government-backed.  (Applause.)  And in order to do that we’ve got to have Congress move.

There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t make this happen right now.  If they started now, in a couple of weeks, in a month, they could make every homeowner in America who is underwater right now eligible to be able to refinance their homes — if they’re making their payments, if they’re responsible, if they’re doing the right thing.  And think about all those families saving $3,000 on average a month year– that’s a huge boost to our economy.  And for some of you who are underwater, you might say, instead of spending that money I can plow that back into equity in my home, and build that back up, which would further strengthen housing prices here in Nevada and around the country.

So it’s the right thing to do.  There’s already a bill in the works.  It’s supported by independent, nonpartisan economists.  It’s supported by industry leaders.  Congress should pass it right now.  (Applause.)

And let me just say this — maybe there are some members of Congress watching.  (Laughter.)  If you need some motivation to make this happen, then you should come to Reno and you should visit with folks like the Kellers.  (Applause.)  I’m not saying the Kellers want all these members of Congress up in their house.  (Laughter.)  It’s bad enough having me and Secret Service in there.  (Laughter.)  But at least they — they probably wouldn’t mind saying hello and talking to them here in front of their house.  (Laughter.)  But they should talk to people whose lives are better because of the action that we took.

All over the country, there are people just like Paul and Val, folks just like you, who are doing everything they can to do the right thing — to meet their responsibilities, to look after their families, to raise their kids right, give them good values.  You’re not looking for a handout.  You just want to make sure that somebody is looking out for you, and that when you do the right thing that you’re able to keep everything that you’ve worked for.  That’s what folks are looking for, and that’s what they expect from Washington:  to put the politics aside and the electioneering aside, and just do what’s right for people.  (Applause.)

So I need all of you and everybody who’s watching to push Congress on their “To-Do” list.  Nag them until they actually get it done.  We need to keep moving this country forward.  Send them an email.  Tweet them.  Write them a letter if you’re old-fashioned like me.  (Laughter.)

But communicate to them that this will make a difference.  It’s one small step that will help us create the kind of economy that all Americans deserve.  And that’s an economy that’s built to last.  An economy where everybody has a fair shot, everybody gets a fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  That’s what made us great in the past.  That’s what’s going to make us great in the future.

All right.  Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  And give Paul and Val a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

END
12:11 P.M. PDT

White House Recap February 4-10, 2012: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Hosts Second Annual White House Science Fair & Hails Housing Agreement with Banks over Mortgage Fraud & Abuses

WHITE HOUSE RECAP

WHITE HOUSE RECAP: February 4-10, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The Next Generation of Scientists, Engineers and Inventors

Source: WH, 2-10-12

All-hands-on-deck for Science and Innovation: Monday marked the second annual White House Science Fair, featuring research and inventions from more than 100 students representing 30 student teams. With marshmallows catapulting through the State Dining Room and robots roaming around the Blue Room, this celebration of research highlighted the talent of America’s next generation and their ability to change the world through science and engineering. If you missed President Obama’s historic launch of 14-year-old Joey Hudy’s marshmallow cannon, you can check it out here.

Housing Agreement: On Thursday morning, President Obama spoke about what he called a “landmark settlement”– an agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage providers that will result in their issuing at least $25 billion to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. This settlement, in which “America’s biggest banks – banks that were rescued by taxpayer dollars – will be required to right these wrongs,” will aid thousands of working families now, and establish new protections for homeowners henceforward.

Kids Can’t Wait: From the East Room of the White House, the President announced that 10 states have agreed to implement impactful education reforms and will receive waivers from the burdensome mandates of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind. These waivers will ensure that states have the flexibility necessary to raise student achievement standards, improve school accountability and increase teacher effectiveness.

Happy Second Birthday, Let’s Move!: There’s reason to celebrate – Thursday marked the Let’s Move! initiative’s second anniversary. Significant progress has been made to solve the problem of childhood obesity over the course of the past two years – President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law in December 2012; grocers including Walgreens, Supervalu and Walmart committed to build or expand 1,500 stores in food deserts; among many other accomplishments that are making a difference in the lives of our children.

Full Text February 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech Hails the Housing Agreement — States’ $25 Billion Deal With Banks Over Foreclosure Fraud & Abuses

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Barack Obama delivers remark on a landmark housing  agreement (February 9, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks announcing the finalization of a $26 billion settlement between mortgage providers, state attorneys general and the Justice Department, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, Feb. 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Officials set to announce landmark foreclosure fraud settlement:  State and federal officials on Thursday will announce a landmark settlement with five of the nation’s banks over their flawed and fraudulent foreclosure practices.
The deal, which officially will be unveiled at a 10 a.m. Department of Justice news conference, aims to help troubled borrowers by reducing the amount they owe on their mortgages, lowering their interest rates and paying restitution to homeowners who suffered mortgage-related abuses…. – WaPo, 2-9-12

States Reach $25 Billion Deal With Banks Over Foreclosure Abuses:
More than two million American homeowners will get at least $25 billion in relief from the nation’s biggest banks as part of a broad settlement to be announced as early as Thursday with state and federal authorities. It is the latest effort by the government to halt the housing market’s downward slide.
Despite the billions earmarked in the accord, the aid will help only a relatively small portion of the millions of borrowers who are delinquent and still facing foreclosure. The success could depend in part on how effectively the program is implemented, because earlier attempts by Washington to help troubled borrowers aided far fewer than had been expected.
Still, the agreement marks the broadest effort yet to help borrowers who owe more than their houses are worth, with roughly 1 million to see their mortgage debt reduced by banks. In addition, 300,000 homeowners are to be able to refinance at lower rates, while another 750,000 people who lost their homes to foreclosure between September 2008 and the end of 2011 will receive checks for about $2,000.
Brokered by officials in Washington, the final details of the pact were being negotiated until the last possible minute, including how many states would participate and when the formal announcement would be made in Washington. The two biggest holdouts, California and New York, now plan to sign on, according to officials familiar with the negotiations…. — NYT, 2-9-12

President Obama Hails the Housing Agreement

Source: WH, 2-9-12

This morning, the federal government and the attorneys general of 49 states announced an agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage providers — Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo.

Because of that agreement, the financial institutions will provide at least $25 billion to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. It will not only help thousands of working families now, it will establish new protections for homeowners going forward.

Earlier, President Obama spoke about what he called a “landmark settlement.” He discussed the irresponsible practices from lenders that created the housing crisis and said:

Under the terms of this settlement, America’s biggest banks — banks that were rescued by taxpayer dollars — will be required to right these wrongs.  That means more than just paying a fee.  These banks will put billions of dollars towards relief for families across the nation.  They’ll provide refinancing for borrowers that are stuck in high interest rate mortgages.  They’ll reduce loans for families who owe more on their homes than they’re worth.  And they will deliver some measure of justice for families that have already been victims of abusive practices.

All told, this isn’t just good for those families — it’s good for their neighborhoods, it’s good for their communities, and it’s good for our economy.

But this is no where near all that needs to be done to help working families. In his State of the Union, President Obama pledged to create a Financial Crimes Unit to investigate the practice of packaging risky mortgages for sale that led to the financial crisis. He also called for legislation that will help every responsible homeowner in America refinance their mortgages and save thousands of dollars each year.

Learn more about these proposals here.

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (86MB) | mp3 (8MB)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Housing Settlement

Room 430
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

12:28 P.M. E

THE PRESIDENT:  All right, good afternoon, everybody.  Before I start, I just want to introduce the folks on stage here, because the extraordinary work that they did is the reason that a lot of families are going to be helped all across the country.

First of all, our Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan; Associate Attorney General — and former classmate of mine — Tom Perrelli.  We’ve got Attorney General George Jepsen from Connecticut; Roy Cooper, Attorney General from North Carolina; Lisa Madigan from my home state of Illinois, and former seatmate of mine when we were in the state legislature together; Dustin McDaniel from Arkansas; Gregory Zoeller from Indiana; and Tom Miller from Iowa.  And I also want to acknowledge Bob Ryan, who worked with Shaun Donovan extensively on this issue, as well as Tim Massad of Treasury.  And I’m going to acknowledge also Gene Sperling, who doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for doing outstanding work.

The housing bubble that burst nearly six years ago triggered, as we all know, the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes.  It cost millions of innocent Americans their jobs and their homes.  And it remains one of the biggest drags on our economy.

Last fall, my administration unveiled a series of steps to help responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages to take advantage of historically low rates.  And last week, I urged Congress to pass a plan that would help millions more Americans refinance and stay in their homes.  And I indicated that the American people need Congress to act on this piece of legislation.

But in the meantime, we can’t wait to get things done and to provide relief to America’s homeowners.  We need to keep doing everything we can to help homeowners and our economy.  And today, with the help of Democratic and Republican attorney generals from nearly every state in the country, we are about to take a major step on our own.

We have reached a landmark settlement with the nation’s largest banks that will speed relief to the hardest-hit homeowners, end some of the most abusive practices of the mortgage industry, and begin to turn the page on an era of recklessness that has left so much damage in its wake.

By now, it’s well known that millions of Americans who did the right thing and the responsible thing — shopped for a house, secured a mortgage that they could afford, made their payments on time — were, nevertheless, hurt badly by the irresponsible actions of others:  by lenders who sold loans to people who couldn’t afford them; by buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them; by speculators who were looking to make a quick buck; by banks that took risky mortgages, packaged them up, and traded them off for large profits.

It was wrong.  And it cost more than 4 million families their homes to foreclosure.

Even worse, many companies that handled these foreclosures didn’t give people a fighting chance to hold onto their homes.  In many cases, they didn’t even verify that these foreclosures were actually legitimate.  Some of the people they hired to process foreclosures used fake signatures to — on fake documents to speed up the foreclosure process.  Some of them didn’t read what they were signing at all.

We’ve got to think about that.  You work and you save your entire life to buy a home.  That’s where you raise your family.  That’s where your kids’ memories are formed.  That’s your stake, your claim on the American Dream.  And the person signing the document couldn’t take enough time to even make sure that the foreclosure was legitimate.

These practices were plainly irresponsible.  And we refused to let them go unanswered.  So about a year ago, our federal law enforcement agencies teamed up with state attorneys general to get to the bottom of these abuses.  The settlement we’ve reached today, thanks to the work of some of the folks who are on this stage — this is the largest joint federal-state settlement in our nation’s history — is the result of that extraordinary cooperation.

Under the terms of this settlement, America’s biggest banks — banks that were rescued by taxpayer dollars — will be required to right these wrongs.  That means more than just paying a fee.  These banks will put billions of dollars towards relief for families across the nation.  They’ll provide refinancing for borrowers that are stuck in high interest rate mortgages.  They’ll reduce loans for families who owe more on their homes than they’re worth.  And they will deliver some measure of justice for families that have already been victims of abusive practices.

All told, this isn’t just good for those families — it’s good for their neighborhoods, it’s good for their communities, and it’s good for our economy.

This settlement also protects our ability to further investigate the practices that caused this mess.  And this is important.  The mortgage fraud task force I announced in my State of the Union address retains its full authority to aggressively investigate the packaging and selling of risky mortgages that led to this crisis.  This investigation is already well underway.  And working closely with state attorneys general, we’re going to keep at it until we hold those who broke the law fully accountable.

Now, I want to be clear.  No compensation, no amount of money, no measure of justice is enough to make it right for a family who’s had their piece of the American Dream wrongly taken from them.  And no action, no matter how meaningful, is going to, by itself, entirely heal the housing market.  But this settlement is a start.  And we’re going to make sure that the banks live up to their end of the bargain.  If they don’t, we’ve set up an independent inspector, a monitor, that has the power to make sure they pay exactly what they agreed to pay, plus a penalty if they fail to act in accordance with this agreement.  So this will be a big help.

Of course, even with this settlement, there’s still millions of responsible homeowners who are out there doing their best.  And they need us to do more to help them get back on their feet. We’ve still got to stoke the fires of our economic recovery.  So now is not the time to pull back.

To build on this settlement, Congress still needs to send me the bill I’ve proposed that gives every responsible homeowner in America the chance to refinance their mortgage and save about $3,000 a year.  It would help millions of homeowners who make their payments on time save hundreds of dollars a month, and it can broaden the impact building off this settlement.

That’s money that can be put back into the homes of those folks who are saving money on the refinancing, helping to build their equity back up.  They may decide to spend that money on local businesses.  Either way, it’s good for families, and it’s good for our economy.  But it’s only going to happen if Congress musters the will to act.  And I ask every American to raise your voice and demand that they do.

Because there really is no excuse for inaction.  There’s no excuse for doing nothing to help more families avoid foreclosure. That’s not who we are.  We are Americans, and we look out for one another; we get each other’s backs.  That’s not a Democratic issue, that’s not a Republican issue.  That’s who we are as Americans.

And the bipartisan nature of this settlement and the outstanding work that these state attorneys general did is a testament to what happens when everybody is pulling in the same direction.  And that’s what today’s settlement is all about — standing up for the American people, holding those who broke the law accountable, restoring confidence in our housing market and our financial sector, getting things moving.  And we’re going to keep on at it until everyone shares in America’s comeback.

So, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your outstanding efforts.  We are very, very proud of you.  And we look forward to seeing this settlement lead to some small measure of relief to a lot of families out there that need help.  And that’s going to strengthen the American economy overall.

So thank you very much.

END
12:37 P.M EST

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.

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.’

Full Text October 25, 2011: President Barack Obama & Federal Housing Finance Agency Introduce Home Affordable Refinance Program for “Underwater” Homeowners & Mortgages

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

We Can’t Wait

Since we can’t wait for Congress to act, President Obama speaks with homeowners in Las Vegas to highlight steps he’s taking to create jobs and improve the economy.

President Obama delivers a statement on housing
President Obama delivers a statement on housing in Las Vegas, Nevada, White House Photo, Chuck Kennedy, 10/24/11

We Can’t Wait: President Obama in Nevada

Source: WH, 10-24-11

Last week, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill that would have meant jobs for around 400,000 teachers and first responders. Twice.

This week, President Obama is back on the road with a new message, which today, he shared with a crowd in Nevada:

So I’m here to say to all of you — and to say to the people of Nevada and the people of Las Vegas — we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.

Instead of waiting for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind, the President directed his administration to move forward with a plan to give states the flexibility they need to help students meet higher standards. The Administration acted to cut dramatically the time it takes for small businesses who contract with the federal government to get paid. And last week, the President eliminated outdated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars in the years ahead.

Now, President Obama is taking on housing.

President Obama participates in a kitchen table discussion regarding the American Jobs Act

President Barack Obama participates in a kitchen table discussion regarding the American Jobs Act, with Jose and Lissette Bonilla at their home in Las Vegas, Nevada, Oct. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In addition to a new set of rules announced this morning that has the potential to allow millions of homeowners to refinance their mortgages, President Obama discussed Project Rebuild:

A lot of homeowners in neighborhoods like this one have watched the values of their home decline not just because the housing bubble burst, but also because of the foreclosure sign next door, or the vacant home across the street. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of vacant homes like these and more than a million unemployed construction workers. That doesn’t make any sense when there’s work to be done and there are workers ready to do it.

So Project Rebuild connects the two by helping the private sector put construction workers to work rehabilitating vacant or abandoned homes and businesses all across the country. That will help stabilize home prices in communities like this one.

Project Rebuild is a step that Congress can take right away. The time for inaction has passed.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on the Economy and Housing

Private Residence, Las Vegas, Nevada

2:15 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good afternoon!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you for letting me block your driveways.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You’re welcome.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it is wonderful to be with all of you.  And I want to thank Jose and Lissette and their wonderful children for letting us set up right in front of their house, and we just had a wonderful visit.

Without a doubt, the most urgent challenge that we face right now is getting our economy to grow faster and to create more jobs.  I know it; the people of Nevada know it; and I think most Americans also understand that the problems we face didn’t happen overnight and so we’re not going to solve them all overnight either.  What people don’t understand, though, is why some elected officials in Washington don’t seem to share the same sense of urgency that people all around the country are.

Last week, for the second time this month, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill from moving forward — a bill that would have meant nearly 400,000 teachers, firefighters, and first responders being back on the job.  It was the kind of proposal that in the past, at least, Republicans and Democrats have supported.  It was paid for, and it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.  But they still said no.

Your senator, Majority Leader Harry Reid, he’s been fighting nonstop to help get the economy going.  But he’s not getting some help from some of the members of the Nevada delegation.  So we need them to get their act together.  Because the truth is, the only way that we can truly attack our economic challenges, the only way we can put hundreds of thousands of people back to work right now is with bold action from Congress.

That’s why I’m going to keep forcing these senators to vote on common-sense, paid-for jobs proposals.  But last month, when I addressed a joint session of Congress about our jobs crisis, I also said that I intend to do everything in my power to act on behalf of the American people — with or without Congress.

So I’m here to say to all of you — and to say to the people of Nevada and the people of Las Vegas — we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job.  Where they won’t act, I will.

In recent weeks, we decided to stop waiting for Congress to fix No Child Left Behind, and decided to give states the flexibility they need to help our children meet higher standards. We took steps on our own to reduce the time it takes for small businesses to get paid when they have a contract with the federal government.  And without any help from Congress, we eliminated outdated regulations that will save hospitals and patients billions of dollars.

Now, these steps aren’t substitutes for the bold action that we need to create jobs and grow the economy, but they will make a difference.  So we’re not going to wait for Congress.

I’ve told my administration to keep looking every single day for actions we can take without Congress — steps that can save consumers money, make government more efficient and responsive, and help heal the economy.  And we’re going to be announcing these executive actions on a regular basis.

Now, today what I want to focus on is housing, which is something obviously on the minds of a lot of folks here in Nevada.  Probably the single greatest cause of the financial crisis and this brutal recession has been the housing bubble that burst four years ago.  Since then, average home prices have fallen by nearly 17 percent.  Nationwide, more than 10 million homeowners are underwater.  That means that they owe more on their homes than those houses are worth.  And here in Las Vegas, the city that’s been hit hardest of all, almost the entire housing market is under severe stress.

Now, this is a painful burden for middle-class families.  And it’s also a drag on our economy.  When a home loses its value, a family loses a big chunk of their wealth.  Paying off mortgage debt means that consumers are spending less and businesses are making less and jobs are harder to come by.  And as long as this goes on, our recovery can’t take off as quickly as it would after a normal recession.

So the question is not whether or not we do something about it — we have to do something about it.  The question is, what do we do and how fast do we move?  One idea that I’ve proposed is contained in the jobs act that is before Congress right now, and it’s called Project Rebuild.

A lot of homeowners in neighborhoods like this one have watched the values of their home decline not just because the housing bubble burst, but also because of the foreclosure sign next door, or the vacant home across the street.  Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of vacant homes like these and more than a million unemployed construction workers.  That doesn’t make any sense when there’s work to be done and there are workers ready to do it.

So Project Rebuild connects the two by helping the private sector put construction workers to work rehabilitating vacant or abandoned homes and businesses all across the country.  That will help stabilize home prices in communities like this one.  And it will help families like the Bonillas to buy a new home and build a nest egg.

This is something that Congress can pass right now, because it’s in the jobs bill.  We will put construction workers back to work and we will rebuild homes all across Nevada and all across the country.

If Congress passes this jobs bill, we can get Project Rebuild moving right away.  If Congress acts, then people in Nevada and all across the country can get significant relief.  But remember what I said.  We can’t just wait for Congress.  Until they act, until they do what they need to do, we’re going to act on our own, because we can’t wait for Congress to help our families and our economy.

Over the past two years, we’ve already taken some steps to help families refinance their mortgages.  Nearly one million Americans with little equity in their homes have gotten assistance so far.  And we’ve also made it easier for unemployed homeowners to keep their homes while they’re looking for a job.  And we’re working to turn vacant properties into rental housing, which will help reduce the supply of unsold homes and stabilize housing prices here in Las Vegas and all across the country.

But we can do more.  There are still millions of Americans who have worked hard and acted responsibly, paying their mortgage payments on time.  But now that their homes are worth less than they owe on their mortgage, they’re having trouble getting refinancing even though mortgage rates are at record lows.

So that’s going to soon change.  Last month, I directed my economic team to work with the Federal Housing Finance Agency — or FHFA — and their partners in the housing industry to identify barriers to refinancing, knock those barriers down, and explore every option available to help many American homeowners to refinance.

And today, I am pleased to announce that the agency that is in charge is going to be taking a series of steps to help responsible homeowners refinance and take advantage of low mortgage rates.  So let me just name those steps.

Number one, the barrier will be lifted that prohibits responsible homeowners from refinancing if their home values have fallen so low that what they owe on their mortgage is 25 percent higher than the current value of their home.  And this is critically important for a place like Las Vegas, where home values have fallen by more than 50 percent over the past five years.

So let me just give you an example.  If you’ve got a $250,000 mortgage at 6 percent interest rates, but the value of your home has fallen below $200,000, right now you can’t refinance.  You’re ineligible.  But that’s going to change.  If you meet certain requirements, you will have the chance to refinance at lower rates, which could save you hundreds of dollars a month, and thousands of dollars a year on mortgage payments.

Second, there are going to be lower closing costs, and certain refinancing fees will be eliminated — fees that can sometimes cancel out the benefits of refinancing altogether, so people don’t bother to refinance because they’ve got all these fees that they have to pay.  Well, we’re going to try to knock away some of those fees.

Third, there’s going to be more competition so that consumers can shop around for the best rates.  Right now, some underwater homeowners have no choice but to refinance with their original lender — and some lenders, frankly, just refuse to refinance.  So these changes are going to encourage other lenders to compete for that business by offering better terms and rates, and eligible homeowners are going to be able to shop around for the best rates and the best terms.

So you take these things together, this is going to help a lot more homeowners refinance at lower rates, which means consumers save money, those families save money, it gets those families spending again.  And it also makes it easier for them to make their mortgage payments, so that they don’t lose their home and bring down home values in the neighborhood.

And I’m going to keep on doing everything in my power to help to stabilize the housing market, grow the economy, accelerate job growth, and restore some of the security that middle-class families have felt slipping away for more than a decade.

Now, let me just say this in closing.  These steps that I’ve highlighted today, they’re not going to solve all the problems in the housing market here in Nevada or across the country.  Given the magnitude of the housing bubble and the huge inventory of unsold homes in places like Nevada, it’s going to take time to solve these challenges.  We still need Congress to pass the jobs bill.  We still need them to move forward on Project Rebuild so we can have more homes like this, and wonderful families having an opportunity to live out the American Dream.

But even if we do all those things, the housing market is not going to be fully healed until the unemployment rate comes down and the inventory of homes on the market also comes down. But that’s no excuse for inaction.  That’s no excuse for just saying “no” to Americans who need help right now.  It’s no excuse for all the games and the gridlock that we’ve been seeing in Washington.

People out here don’t have a lot of time or a lot of patience for some of that nonsense that’s been going on in Washington.  If any member of Congress thinks there are no unemployed workers or no down-on-their-luck neighborhoods in their district that would benefit from the proposals in the jobs bill, then they better think again.  They should come and talk to the families out here in Nevada.  These members of Congress who aren’t doing the right thing right now, they still have a chance to take meaningful action to put people back to work, and to help middle-class families and homeowners like the Bonillas.

But we can’t wait for that action.  I’m not going to wait for it.  So I’m going to keep on taking this message across the country.  Where we don’t have to wait for Congress, we’re just going to go ahead and act on our own.  And we’re going to keep on putting pressure on Congress to do the right thing for families all across the country.  And I am confident that the American people want to see action.  We know what to do.  The question is whether we’re going to have the political will to do it.

All right?  So thank you so much, everybody.  God bless you. God bless the United States of America.  Thanks for welcoming me to your neighborhood.  (Applause.)

END 2:28 P.M. PDT

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