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REPORT: Mortgage Mess Costly for NY — Bailout Could Help

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September 29, 2008

New York, NY — The New York economy will take a $36 billion hit because of foreclosures on sub-prime mortgages, according to a new report from Common Cause. But the bailout plan currently under consideration could soften the impact of that hit, says Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York. Under the plan, homeowners would get help keeping their homes, she says, and the bailout also would help get the market back on track, a boon to Wall Street's significant affect on state revenue.

"Not only is New York the home of the financial industry, we also have a large number of homeowners whose homes are at risk. We have a great stake in the bailout and we all fervently hope that congress has gotten it right."

The Common Cause report, "Ask Yourself Why They Didn’t See This Coming," focuses on lobbying. Lerner says the public needs to know who had influence in crafting the bailout plan, since the only testimony in the public record came from the administration.

"There is oversight in this bill, which is certainly better than the initial proposal, but my concern is that this entire plan was prepared in a pressured echo chamber. There have been press reports that this week has been a frenzy of lobbying in Washington."

The report states five bank and mortgage brokers spent $31 billion on campaign contributions since the beginning of last year.

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office, the bailout plan would allow the Treasury to work with homeowners to refinance mortgages purchased by the government. Common Cause supports Congress' decision to grant the bailout money in stages, arguing it would allow for more input and oversight. The group hopes that, before Congress approves the second installment, they will first hear from independent experts.

Full report is available at

Michael Clifford/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - NY