Most spanking new US senators have respect for the seniority system that's been in effect in the US Senate since Daniel Webster was making speeches that were actually eloquent. Most new senators tread lightly, with a sense of relative humility ("relative" being the operative word in a joint where the average ego makes Achilles look like Saint Francis of Assisi)and a realization that by storming out of the gate at the sound of the bell they might stumble, break a leg, and be put down. Then again, most US senators aren't a direct descendant of warriors of the Great Plains.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren isn’t wasting time wading into banking policy.
Less than a month into her new job, the Massachusetts Democrat, a new member of the Senate Banking Committee, is seeking information from regulators on why federal bank regulators halted a detailed review of foreclosure files this month.
In a letter sent to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Reserve on Thursday, Ms. Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), requested a detailed set of documents related to a foreclosure- review launched by the bank regulators in 2011.
[...]In their letter, Ms. Warren and Mr. Cummings urged the regulators to provide information on the reviews’ findings – including how much several consulting firms were paid, and any conclusions about how much consumers were harmed.
The review was designed to address banks’ use of so-called robo-signers, a term for employees who signed off on numerous foreclosures and falsely claimed to have reviewed each case. Banks and regulators concluded that it was becoming far too expensive and not compensating homeowners. In recent weeks, regulators have reached agreements with 13 banks, in a pact now worth $9.3 billion.
The lawmakers said they agreed with regulators’ goal of making sure consumers receive aid more quickly. However, they argued that far more information about the settlement agreements should be public.
“Public confidence in the banking system has been badly undermined by a widespread concern that large financial institutions are not held fully to account when they break the rules—and that consumers are not sufficiently compensated,” they wrote.
Although the OCC and Fed refused to publicly comment on the cheeky request of She-Who-Hunts-At-Walmart, my understanding is that, under their breath, the bank regulators were discussing "a pound of sand" or something similar. Perhaps I didn't quite hear them clearly.
I understand why everyone is upset with the robosigning shenanigans, and I've many times blathered on this blog that robosigners deserve to be punished, including being fined and, where perjury has been committed, imprisoned. On the other hand, I'm not sure how the "compensation" argument continues to preoccupy the minds of lovers of The Great Spirit like Liz. I realize that the settlement exacted from the large loan servicers by the bank regulators required "compensation," but that seemed to me to be more of a purely political sop than an attempt to render justice. In a just world, lenders ought to be punished for falsifying documents and borrowers ought to pay their debts. Apparently, "The Greatest Senator From Massachusetts Since Scott Brown" agrees with many that because of documentation or ministerial deficiencies, borrowers who had defaulted on their loans were "unjustly" foreclosed upon and should have been allowed to stay in their homes without having to cure those defaults, and because they weren't allowed to stay in their homes with the loan terms modified as necessary to accomplish that result, they are entitled to be "compensated."
I predict that over the next six years, Lizzie will inspire much talk of "pounding" and of "sand", most of it in the same declarative sentence.
I knew there was going to be a silver lining to Liz in the Senate. I never expected it to pay off so quickly. I sure hope Barney Frank wins John Carey's vacant seat so whenever blogging topics are ebbing, I can always go to my sure fire daily double.