WASHINGTON, DC- At the Senate Banking Committee hearing today on the financial markets with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, SEC Chairman Chris Cox and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Jim Lockhart, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement:
“My reaction to the proposal that was sent by the Administration this weekend was similar to that of the American people in a couple of ways: the three-page proposal granted authority to the Treasury Department that was far too broad and it was missing some basic features important to the American people.
“First of all, I think it missed completely the idea of directly addressing the root cause of this problem which started with foreclosures. A lot of work has been done this past weekend by the Banking Committee, my staff and me to try to fill in that blank.
“On Friday, I sent a letter to Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke outlining a couple of things on housing and the economy. First of all, help for homeowners is a way to further amplify or expand our efforts in that area. It is no secret that the mortgage crisis is the root of the current financial crisis. I have worked with my colleagues to help keep families in their homes and in turn help the broader economy for well over a year.
“We should also look at the GSE moratorium issue that I proposed with my colleagues. Another very successful model is an innovative judicial oversight program in Philadelphia where the city government and the court system intervened to try to prevent foreclosures. And I think there are other ideas that we'll hear especially on matters of transparency and accountability.
“Taxpayers and families are looking for a couple of things: they're looking for more oversight and they want to know that if the federal government is given the opportunity to exercise power which involves the expenditure of maybe $700 billion that there's some oversight.
“Taxpayers have a real concern, obviously, a deep, abiding concern about their own savings. What will this mean to their livelihood in the short-term as well as their long-term and retirement savings?
“We must do everything possible with limited time, I realize, under duress and with urgency, to do everything possible to keep people in their homes. And I think that's, in the end, what most Americans are concerned about – their homes, their neighborhoods and their financial well-being.
"People in my homestate of Pennsylvania are worried about their futures. Foreclosures were up 60% this August over August 2007-- a much higher rate than the rest of the country. They are also facing rising health care, education, child care and energy costs.
“If you're a family in Pennsylvania and have two kids, your monthly cost for child care is $1,311. That's weighing on people as they worry about making the house payment this month and next month and all these months ahead of them.
“As we finalize the proposal, and I know we're trying to work together to make this happen, we should keep in mind those families and their peace of mind and their economic security.”
To watch Senator Casey's opening statement, please click here.