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Attorney General Beau Biden on Investigating the Mortgage Mess

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The Dylan Ratigan show is on a roll this week. The program today included a segment with one of our heros, Delaware attorney general Beau Biden, who was early to join New York’s Eric Schneiderman in questioning the now less than 50 state attorney general mortgage settlement. He also joined the FDIC, Schneiderman and a large number of investors in objecting to a proposed $8.5 billion mortgage settlement by Bank of America.

Biden makes a clear and concise statement of the major issues:

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12 comments

  1. nv

    Jesus Christ, will someone please script Dylan Ratigan’s remarks in advance? I like the sentiment, but the prose is pretty hard to take.

  2. LucyLulu

    Beau Biden was on Morning Joe earlier yesterday. He must be making the talk show rounds. He was asked if there would be any criminal prosecutions a couple of times. He never answered the question directly but responded that thus far the banks have yet to have ANY accountability. Eric Schneiderman, Martha Coakley, Catherine Masto were the same attorneys general he mentioned on Morning Joe as being the other ones that were also fighting for improved accountability. Notably, Kamala Harris wasn’t mentioned either time.

    I didn’t hear it mentioned that in exchange for the mortgage refinancings the banks will be granted broad immunity, from origination on through the process. Not a bad deal considering only 20% of mortgages are bank owned, and somewhere between 20-25% of those are underwater. In addition, the homeowner must be current, so the banks are refinancing somewhere less than 4-5% of mortgages in exchange for broad immunity. The interest rate isn’t final but the number I’ve heard thrown around is 4% so they’ll still be getting market rates, for current loans they hold anyways. There won’t be any principal reductions.

    As much as I’ve always been the model of responsibility, if I was significantly underwater and had a non-recourse loan, I’d be seriously considering letting the bank foreclose. The banks extended the loan, they hold the house as collateral, and the contract provides them the option of possession for non-payment. Gee shucks, there isn’t always a bailout when Wall Street gambles and loses.

    1. Pwelder

      That Morning Joe discussion wasn’t nearly as thorough as the Ratigan interview, but Biden did manage to work in his home-improvement simile – which is a pretty good thumbnail sketch of the situation for a broad audience.

      It’s interesting that Biden was given a respectful hearing by Joe Scarborough – an ex-Congressman and Gingrich acolyte from the deep South. I’m not sure if Scarborough realizes it, but as an elected Pensacola Republican he was a natural heir to the Andrew Jackson strain in the Democratic party which went Republican post-LBJ and civil rights. Jackson, of course, was to Nicholas Biddle and the eastern banking establishment as Obama could and should have been to the Rubinites.

      Where’s Old Hickory when you really need him?

  3. psychohistorian

    Frankly I am a bit surprised or perplexed by Biden the AG son of the VP. Either this kabuki has gotten more complex that I can understand or the Biden family members are not all playing from the same book.

    I would like to think that there is a way to fix our problems without structural change but once this current mess starts to go it will be near impossible to stop the momentum and we all will suffer.

    Hence my simplistic solution is to laugh the global inherited rich out of control of our society and into rooms at the Hague. We need to deal with the head of our rotten fish, not the banker puppets trying to keep the putrid greedy smell of their bosses from us.

    1. sheepdog

      Beau Biden is being set up as the “relief valve” for the emotional steam pent up for change. He is now the new “hope and change” hero who, and I do believe this is true, will begin prosecutions of Wall Street perpetrators once the 1% outside of Wall Street feel their system itself is in jeopardy. A few perp walks and the focus of those feeling dispossessed will move to the courtrooms.

      The system of the 1% is self perpetuating and ALWAYS finds a way to redirect emotions that it cannot control. Remember this when you hear “Beau Biden for President”.

      1. Nathanael

        I don’t know — the Biden family’s always been a bit “rough and ready”. Very wrong sometimes, very right sometimes, but never comfortable rolling over and doing what they’re told.

        This may just be Beau Biden’s personal choice of what to do; he may have decided that massive criminality among the banks is sufficiently dangerous to the existing system that he wants to stop the crime. (And it is sufficiently dangerous; it hurts business, even big business, and it hurts rich people.) This doesn’t mean he’ll be any good on, say, the right to a fair trial (versus assasination orders).

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves

    Biden’s comment about problems with absurdly limited scope of the 50 AG investigation is certainly a breath of fresh air.

    Good to hear Biden point out that it’s not clear whether the securitized ‘property’ was actually owned by the parties who were slicing and dicing it. Anyone who’s read ECONned, NC, or a host of other blogs knows this and it’s refreshing to hear it stated publicly.

    It’s heartening to see Ratigan on a roll. He’s had some great interviews recently.

  5. b.

    I wonder, where is Joe in this? At which point is the VP put his offspring on notice that he is becoming inconvenient?

    1. 2laneIA

      I don’t think that Joe will tell Beau how to do his job, and what may be of more interest is the information about how bad things are that could be passed to the Veep from Beau. Joe will certainly not be hearing this point of view from Geithner, who is helping to pressure AGs into taking Miller’s deal. Joe’s views on domestic issues are informed by a humble upbringing, and tend toward the populist. He hired Jared Bernstein in 2009; Obama hired Summers.

  6. Mark

    Bank of America took over Delaware’s number 1 employer, MBNA (Joe Senior was often referred to as the Senator from MBNA) and moved every single one of those jobs out of the state. BAC is not a player in the Delaware banking scene. When Beau and Joe go after one of the banks that is still a major DE employer, I’ll my hat.

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