Transcript: Iowa AG Tom Miller’s remarks on the $25 billion mortgage settlement

 

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. SOURCE: C-Span.org

Remarks by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller on the $25 billion housing settlement with the nation’s 5 largest mortgage servicers:

“This settlement is about homeowners – homeowners in distress. People in our country that need help as much as anybody else. And that’s what we’ve focused on and that’s what this settlement does.

“As outlined by the Attorney General and the HUD Secretary, there’s a number of things that will help homeowners and help them a lot. But I want to talk about two aspects.

“One is the servicing standards. Comprehensive serving standards of a real strong Bill of Rights of how they treat homeowners in distress.

“In the past, it’s been a dysfunctional system. That homeowners don’t get called back. That they put documents in, they get lost. The wrong decisions are made on loan modifications. People are foreclosed upon while they’re discussing loan modifications. A dysfunctional system.

“This set of agreements – this set of guidelines – has the potential to change all that. And it’s going to be incumbent on all of us to make sure that that potential is realized. We have the states. We have the federal government. We have a court decree. We have a monitor – a monitor we’ve never had before in this kind of situation – to make sure that they do what they’ve promised. And if they do, this – as [Deborah] Hagan of Illinois have said the other day – it’s a ‘sea change’ in how homeowners are dealt with.


“And I say today to the banks: this is an opportunity for you. In your enlightened self-interest, this is an opportunity to change things for the benefit of your homeowners, investors, and yourself and your reputation. This is a great opportunity for them to do the right thing.

“This is also about – this agreement came about as a result of strong, healthy bipartisan relationships.

“The Attorneys General, I think, have a rich tradition of being a bipartisan group, and I think that’s never more true than in this settlement.

“[Colorado Attorney General] John Suthers, to my right here, led the Republicans. Along with Rob McKenna, the Attorney General of Washington, president of the Attorneys General Association, who coordinated and worked with the Republicans. And [Florida] Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was on this negotiating committee and worked along with the new Republican Attorney General – she contributed a lot on this. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, like me, a Democrat, was the steady hand in all of this as we went forward.

“Lisa Madigan of Illinois contributed to oh so much to what we’ve done through Debbie Hagan, her remarkable assistant, and through her own leadership and through her courage. You know, I don’t think we see probably as much political courage today as we should but we saw a lot with Lisa as she stood and supported and worked on this agreement under very difficult times. That’s good stuff, Lisa, and we respect and admire you for that.

“George Jepsen of Connecticut, who’s here with us, was on the negotiation committee and did a great job. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel of Arkansas, Attorney General Doug Gansler of Maryland, Attorney General Greg Zoeller of Indiana are also here. They contributed in this effort as well. So we had this great group of Attorneys Generals working on a bipartisan avenue.

“And you know, we must admit that we don’t do all the work in the Attorney General’s office, and we had our remarkable group of Assistant Attorneys General that coordinated, worked on this the last 16 months in just an incredible way and also along party lines. I’d just like to mention their names: Patrick Madigan from my office was a leader and was just remarkable. Debbie Hagan of Illinois – I mentioned Debbie. Matt Busby of Connecticut. Phil Lehman of North Carolina. Vicky Butler of Florida. Jim Daross of Texas. Dave Huey of Washington. And Andy McCallin of Colorado.They were the work horses on all of this.

“And then for the last 7 years we’ve had another remarkable relationship and that’s with the state banking regulators. We’ve worked with them on the Ameriquest case, the household case, the task force to deal with and prevent foreclosure. John Ryan, their executive director is here. Again, a great relationship – party means nothing.


“And you know, I keep trying to think of myself as a relatively young man, but I’ve been Attorney General for 30 years. And during that time, I’ve had a lot of – been involved in a lot of multi-states that worked with the federal government – worked with the federal government in a lot of ways and have good relationships and sometimes not so good relationships working with the feds. That may surprise you, but it’s true. But of all that time, I’ve never seen such a wonderful, effective, based on respect relationship as we’ve had with Tom Perrelli and Shaun Donovan. It’s truly remarkable. They treat us as equals. They roll up their sleeves. They get the job done as best we can together. It has been a model for federal-state relationships – the relationship that we’ve had with them.

“And just going back for one second to the Assistant Attorneys General. The Attorneys General offices over the last 4-1/2 years since the mortgage meltdown in 2007, we have done more on dealing with, working with, prodding, pushing, threatening to sue the servicers of loans than anybody else. In terms of knowledge base on the servicing of loans in this country, us and the banking regulators, I think, are unparalleled in our knowledge, our experience, and I think in what we’ve done. Just wanted to mention that as well.

“But to conclude here. What we have done is do something that is very important for homeowners. At this current time, we’re the only ones that are able to do the servicing standards and get them implemented now. At this time, we’re the only ones I think that can deal effectively with principal reduction.

“What will happen on principal reduction is briefly this. That this agreement provides for substantial principal reduction. And once it happens, something is going to become apparent. And that is all those things that they were worried about – the sky is falling sort of argument about principal reduction – guess what? It won’t happen. And on the positive side, the re-default rate will be the lowest or among the lowest. And then at that point, principal reduction will become a regular common tool, I think, for everybody in this country. And to get there, this is the only vehicle to do it.

“And there is a precedent for it and it’s on interest rate reductions. For two years, we kept telling the banks, ‘You need to do interest rate reductions. You need to cut the payment or the loan mods won’t work.’ They resisted that. Finally, as a result of a number of things that were done by states and by the Department of Treasury, they started to do principal reductions. It worked, and now it’s commonplace.

“So this is just an extraordinary opportunity to help homeowners – one that’s not present anywhere else in our configuration of state or local or national government.

“And finally, I reiterate what I think Shaun [Donovan] ended with. I believe that the public wants us to work across party lines and to do things for ordinary Americans. And homeowners in distress are ordinary Americans that need help more than most of us. It’s exactly what the public wants us to do, and I believe we’ve done that. Work across party line to serve the interests of ordinary Americans.”

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4 Comments on “Transcript: Iowa AG Tom Miller’s remarks on the $25 billion mortgage settlement

  1. Pingback: Landmark $25 billion settlement reached with nation's 5 largest mortgage servicers | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Transcript: Associate AG Tom Perrelli's remarks on the $25 billion mortgage settlement | What The Folly?!

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