Atrios (and other bloggers) met with President Obama today. Hopefully he asked him about HAMP:

Every [HAMP] trial modification payment reads as a default to the credit reporting companies. The Treasury Department could have set it up so that didnít happen; they chose not to intervene in that reality. All of the money between the trial modification and the original payment that borrowers donít pay during their trial period gets tacked on as part of the unpaid principal balance at the end. The servicers also tack on late fees. Treasury could have banned that. They chose not to intervene. The servicers can proceed with foreclosure operations during the trial period, arguing that the borrower is in default. They canít actually foreclose (also in some cases they have). But they can go through the legal process. Treasury could have put a stop to that. They didnít. Borrowers keep getting told they have to miss a payment to be eligible for HAMP. Treasury actually didnít put that into the design. But they havenít sanctioned a single servicer for this or any other violation of the program guidelines. They could have done something. They didnít.

(Emphasis supplied.) Speaking for me only

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    As someone (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 03:48:05 PM EST
    who is trying to get a loan modification right now I can tell you that everything bad thing that is said is true. The banks know that there is absolutely no consequence to them doing nothing or denying people or anything. A friend of mine's son tried to get a modification and was turned down. He is trying once again but to what avail? I mean the banks can lie and cheat and ruin and you and you have no recourse and they know they will never be held accountable. I have to wonder if things wouldn't be any worse if they had passed nothing. Truly.

    HOLC (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by robrecht on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 05:27:02 PM EST

    Call me a cynic... (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Romberry on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 07:58:07 PM EST
    ...but this "outreach" at this late date strikes me as a likely attempt to "wow" people with access to power, and in so doing effectively co-opt them and silence their criticisms. If so, it would be the same thing that was done with Krugman and Stiglitz when Obama had them over for lunch (or maybe it was dinner) at the White House. In the case of Krugman and Stiglitz, the ploy seemed to work for a while (though the effect has since seemingly worn off) in getting them to rein in or otherwise mute their criticisms.

    Will this same tactic work (at least in the short term) with these bloggers?* They are only human. Guess we'll see.

    *Oliver Willis didn't need to be reined in. He's right there with Booman.

    Atrios has the internal White House transcript up (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Romberry on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 08:49:44 PM EST

    The second question:

    Q:  Mr. President, you've said that you want to work with Republicans after the election, but there's probably a pretty good chance that they're not going to advance with you.  Is there sort of a breaking point you have of where you try to work with them and they just refuse to budge, which they've indicated so far?  Is there a breaking point for you just like you're going to have to go off on your own and find a way around them?

    THE PRESIDENT: Look, the -- I'm a pretty stubborn guy when it comes to, on the one hand, trying to get cooperation.  I don't give up just because I didn't get cooperation on this issue; I'll try the next issue.  If the Republicans don't agree with me on fiscal policy, maybe they'll agree with me on infrastructure.  If they don't agree with me on infrastructure, I'll try to see if they agree with me on education.

         So I'm just going to keep on trying to see where they want to move the country forward.

         In that sense, there's not a breaking point for me.  

    [big snip]

    But I don't go into the next two years assuming that there's just going to be gridlock.  We're going to keep on working to make sure that we can get as much done as possible because folks are hurting out there.  What they're looking for is help on jobs, help on keeping their homes, help on sending their kids to college.  And if I can find ways for us to work with Republicans to advance those issues, then that's going to be my priority.

    Is Obama saying here that the post partisan unity shtick remains alive? Isn't that shtick a large part of how we arrived at this sorry point?

    The answer to the next question on jobs (unemployment), foreclosures and the economy isn't really any better. And the evasion on a straight answer to whether or not he would accept a recommendation to raise the age for full Social Security retirement to 70? Worse.

    Still getting through it, but things like refusing to say whether or not he thinks DADT is unconstitutional...

    Q: (O)ne of the things I'd like to ask you -- and I think it's a simple yes or no question too -- is do you think that "don't ask, don't tell" is unconstitutional?

    THE PRESIDENT:  It's not a simple yes or no question, because I'm not sitting on the Supreme Court.  And I've got to be careful, as President of the United States, to make sure that when I'm making pronouncements about laws that Congress passed I don't do so just off the top of my head...

    ...seems like so much evasive BS to me. Does he not in fact make pronouncements about laws that Congress has passed every time he issues a signing statement saying that as the executive, he reserves the right to ignore the law and/or implement it in accordance with what he thinks is or is not constitutional regardless of congressional intent?

    Yeah, I don't love Obama, and I parse what he says very skeptically. That skepticism has to date been well placed.

    Apologize for replying to my own posts... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Romberry on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 08:57:26 PM EST
    ...but I just got through that transcript completely and mostly what I want to say is...Argghhhh!

    Given the dire situation (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 10:45:27 PM EST
    our country is in, all I have to say is One Term President.

    Off the top of his head? (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Joan in VA on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 09:05:32 PM EST
    He's had several years to ponder it. He has hundreds of staffers to dissect the issue to the nth degree for him. I don't think you're being too hard on him.

    I wish the transcript had indicated (none / 0) (#12)
    by talesoftwokitties on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 10:16:07 PM EST
    who asked each question.  And where was FDL???

    FDL (none / 0) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 10:22:15 PM EST
    was not invited.

    Yes, identifying who asked the question would have been helpful.


    I want to know who asked (none / 0) (#15)
    by waldenpond on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 10:48:01 PM EST
    [Q Mr. President, you're often pressured from both the left and right on one issue or another, and then even within the Democratic Party you get pressured from the more conservative, more progressive side of the party. So I'm curious, you sort of govern as a -- sort of as a pragmatist, and I'm wondering if you view yourself as a progressive.]

    It came across as rather wishy-washy.


    I vote Willis (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 10:49:17 PM EST
    Bingo. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Romberry on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:00:30 PM EST
    Willis has it up on his site.

    Joe Sudbay of AmericaBlog... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Romberry on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 01:05:02 AM EST
    ...also reveals which questions were his.

    Commenters at AmericaBlog by and large don't seem to much care for the answers Joe received to his questions. There are of course exceptions.

    Those who were happy with the President prior to this session will probably remain happy with him. And those who weren't happy probably won't find much to change their minds.


    Best part of Obama's answer (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by waldenpond on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 10:51:09 PM EST
    Is where he defines Lincoln as a progressive and a Repub and how the values he admires traditionally have a home in the Repub party.

    Apparently (none / 0) (#23)
    by cal1942 on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:27:45 PM EST
    Obama, like Rip Van Winkle, has been asleep for the past 20 years.

    It makes no snese (none / 0) (#27)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:39:33 PM EST
    for him to blather on about continuing to try to find ways to cooperate with GOPers when he's spent the last several weeks loudly telling crowds the Republicans can't drive his car, they can only sit in the back seat.

    I have no fondness for Republicans, God knows, but which of those pronouncements are they supposed to buy?  And if he's only using the "back seat" line to rev up Da Base, does he imagine the GOPERs aren't listening?

    None of it makes any sense to me.


    Typical (none / 0) (#34)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 04:58:15 AM EST
    Obama. It's the same thing he did in 2008: he told each crowd what they wanted to hear.

    Atrios is really elite now! (none / 0) (#2)
    by observed on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 04:31:12 PM EST
    Good for him.

    Hey did I miss Booman's (none / 0) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 04:37:54 PM EST
    name in the linked Huff Post article? This was interesting:

    Obama's outreach on Wednesday could be about ginning up enthusiasm in the closing days of the election. But it also seems likely to be an effort at pre-scripting the online narrative about the election's fallout.

    Why would they invite (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 07:14:29 PM EST
    you to the White House when you have your nose buried so far up their arse they can taste what you had for breakfast?  No need to negotiate with or even speak with someone who goes on message via an email and a pat on the head :)  He did say he got a phone call though on the night that the President announced a troop expansion in Afghanistan.  The whole professional left was flaming ticked that night, and I guess they knew who would fall in line first via a phone call bone.

    My daughter is still going through (none / 0) (#5)
    by hairspray on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 05:52:03 PM EST
    the process having been denied (to much and then too little income).  She is noW being pushed into another program but has NEVER received the letter spelling out the exact numbers they used to deny her the program.  When she first applied she was told she was spot on for the program.  Well guess what folks!

    Phyllis Caldwell, head of Treasury's (none / 0) (#10)
    by Joan in VA on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 08:58:32 PM EST
    Homeownership Preservation office(Hilarious!), had a lovely day today in front of the COP. I almost felt sorry for her. She probably lost 5 lbs. in flop sweat. Check it out at c-span.org.

    I am so mad after reading the (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:00:16 PM EST
    transcript I could spit nails.  This doofus really just doesn't give a $hit if the people who voted him in are unhappy with how he has performed his job.  Either he refuses to believe that he has played a huge role in how badly these midterms are going or he thinks Republicans are going to get him voted in for a second term.  We haven't even voted yet for the midterms and he already just told me to my face to go phuck myself several times in that interview.  Maybe he never gives up on bipartisanship, but I give up on him.  I had not done that previously.  I was critical, figured he would figure it out though after midterms.  We wouldn't be starting out on good footing but at least I expected after midterms that we would have started, but nothing will be started and he really thinks he has done a bang up insanely good job and now we are all treating him badly.  Stick a damned fork in me cuz I AM DONE.

    And he might think that he likes to campaign (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:03:56 PM EST
    and it's what he's good at, but he has a record now....he isn't some unknown hopey changey entity, he has defined himself now and he is known.

    Spit nails? Angry? (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Romberry on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:12:32 PM EST
    You're supposed to be energized. Reassured. Ready and raring to go. Hope and change! Hope and change!

    OK...that kind of snark may be going a little far, but what I come away from that transcript with is the idea that what Obama really wants to be is a moderate Republican. In fact, I think that ideologically, at least by current standards, that's what he is. Of course I could be wrong...


    Democrats are going to start (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:34:28 PM EST
    defecting from following his lead at all.  He put them under the knife, hell.....he put them under the machete this midterm and now he's going to give them more of the same?  I will bet this no clear title house on serious defection :)  Or maybe they are all bought off anymore and there isn't anything to be done.  

    Not just him (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by waldenpond on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:16:54 PM EST
    Really, it is unfair because we don't get the tone just the dry details but the interaction is just 'off.'

    The discussion on gay marriage.... [I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage.] ends in laughter?

    For me the summary is: not my fault, 60 votes, no I won't rule out raising the retirement age, some people don't deserve homes, I'll never support full gay rights, both sides do it, I'll follow the lead of the Repubs.... oh yeah and by the way... I'm a Repub.


    On gay marriage... (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Romberry on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:32:41 PM EST
    I think the laughter was in response to his final remarks on that question:

    "And I care about them deeply.  And so while I'm not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it's fair to say that it's something that I think a lot about.  That's probably the best you'll do out of me today." (Laughter)

    As far as "traditional marriage", I wonder if by that he means something akin to the percepts of "biblical marriage." If so, I refer the President to Miss Betty Bowers, widely known as America's best Christian, for an education on what that means.


    It still (none / 0) (#26)
    by cal1942 on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:38:41 PM EST
    all comes down to the 2008 election rhetoric again. Still running.

    He either doesn't get that the other side is fighting a war or he doesn't care because he's just a 60s or 70s style Republican.

    Calling him a Democrat would set FDR spinning in his grave.  I know it makes me want to vomit.


    Obama (none / 0) (#33)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 04:57:15 AM EST
    is the Joe Lieberman presidency we never had. But let's be honest, I don't think that Joe Lieberman would have even been clueless enough to cut a deal with Bart Stupak.

    Can somebody (none / 0) (#28)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:42:30 PM EST
    explain to me what this phrase is referring to above: "All of the money between the trial modification and the original payment that borrowers don't pay during their trial period"-- I can't parse that for the life of me, and my algebra skills are too rusty to turn it into an equation.

    Serious question.  I've heard a number of horror stories about what the HAMP process has done to people, but they've been equally incoherent in explaining this.

    It gets complicated (none / 0) (#29)
    by Romberry on Wed Oct 27, 2010 at 11:57:06 PM EST
    "All of the money between the trial modification and the original payment that borrowers don't pay during their trial period"

    During the trial modification, payments are reduced. If ultimately the modification of the mortgage is rejected, the difference between the reduced payments that were made during the trial modification and what the regular payments were scheduled to be comes due. All at once. Plus fees.

    Example: You owe 250k on your mortgage at 6 percent and have a payment of around 1600.00/month. You're underwater and apply for a mod. During the trial period, your payments are reduced to some lower amount. Let's say that amount is 950.00/month. The trial modification goes on for six months during which you pay the $950/month on time and work to get the lender everything they need in the way of docs. Six months later they tell you sorry, you don't actually qualify. At that point, the difference between what you paid each month (950) and what you would have had to pay with no modification (1600) is due. Plus you'd still have to pay the regular payment. In this example, that would be 650 dollars (the difference between the reduced trial period payment and the regular mortgage payment) times six months, or a total of $3900.00. Add the next regularly scheduled payment of 1600 dollars, and you'd be looking at the need to come up with more than 5 grand to get caught up (plus fees!) or face foreclosure.

    My example is just made up numbers, but that's essentially how it works.


    Thanks (none / 0) (#30)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:37:17 AM EST
    That's what I thought happened, but couldn't make that fit with the quoted description. (What's so hard about saying, as you did, "the difference between X and Y"?)

    A larger point about this whole thing I don't get is this idea of a "trial period."  What's the point of that?  It just seems like a giant Catch-22, given the scenario you just outlined.


    The trial period... (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Romberry on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 12:47:29 AM EST
    ...seems to be part of "extend and pretend."  The current administration talking point is that it "helps" families even if they wind up losing their homes because it delays the foreclosure. (Never mind that it raises hopes of keeping their homes and then crushes that hope later.) But the other talking point, the one that is closer to an unvarnished truth, is that it helps the banks by slowing down the flood of foreclosures. Given the way HAMP is working out, that (helping the banks) is what I think the thing was actually designed for.

    how does it help the family? (none / 0) (#35)
    by nycstray on Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:36:38 AM EST
    if they are losing the house anyway, they are throwing good money away.