The Justice Department has stepped into the fray today over reports that the country’s largest mortgage lenders may have evicted tens of thousands of borrowers from their homes with little or no scrutiny of their documents. The lenders are accused of using “robo-signers” to approve foreclosures en masse, like GMAC official Jeffrey Stephan, who has testified to signing some 10,000 documents a month.
The number of foreclosures has slowed significantly since state officials began investigations into the practice in recent weeks, but this may be of scant comfort to the housing market as long as the uncertainty lingers, with a possible backlog of pending foreclosures hanging over the market.
The practice raises yet more questions about regulation of the financial industry, and plays into the narrative of inadequate oversight of greedy bankers undermining the economy, a narrative which lay behind the administration’s reform of financial regulation. But it also highlights the failure of the White House and Dodd-Frank to properly address one of the biggest issues behind the economic collapse, namely the housing market and reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Meanwhile, the media seem to have grown bored of the midterm elections already and turned their collective attention to 2012. First we had Donald Trump opening the door for a possible bid for the presidency. Then there was a leaked email which provided more evidence that Sarah Palin is seriously pondering a bid for the top job. Finally, there is the speculation, fuelled by Bob Woodward, that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden might consider swapping jobs going into the 2012 campaign, to shore up support for President Barack Obama among his Democratic base.
“I think the vice president is doing a wonderful job and he is a great friend of mine,” Clinton said today, declaring she had no interest in the job or reason to do it. “There is so much to do and I think both of us are very happy doing what we are doing.” Washington Extra can only add that it would be rare for a president to change his running mate, and perhaps tough for Hillary Clinton to give up a solid job at State for the slightly nebulous role of vice president. But stranger things have happened.