More than with many candidates Blue America supported for the U.S. Senate, it always seemed to us that with Jeff Merkley (D-OR) we were electing one of us — not some private-school millionaire, but a guy from a working family who still sees his goals as helping out other ordinary Americans from working families. His victory over multimillionaire reactionary Gordon Smith in November was one of the sweetest of the cycle. And as soon as he got to the Senate he got busy working with the Obama Administration and his colleagues on creating jobs and turning around the mortgage crisis. His voting record is the most progressive of any new senator Blue America helped elect.
Today John and I asked Senator Merkley to spend some time with us blogging about his efforts to get the country back on the right path by rebuilding and strengthening the middle class. “If we are going to put America back to work and turn this economy around,” he explained, “we need to take on the mortgage crisis. Millions of Americans have lost their homes and millions more are teetering on the edge. Each foreclosure not only devastates the family involved, but drives down neighbors’ property values, deepens the banking crisis, and worsens the recession.”
In just a few weeks, Congress will be taking up legislation that addresses this foreclosure crisis. We need to support aggressive efforts to enable families entrapped in high-cost mortgages to negotiate modifications to their loans.
And if mortgage modifications fail, we need to support the ability of bankruptcy judges to adjust the terms of the loan. Bankruptcy judges currently have the power to adjust the terms for loans for yachts and vacation homes– it’s time to allow the same option for family homes.
This economic crisis started in the broken housing market, and it’s not going to end until we fix the housing market.
While Harry Reid has signaled to Republicans and to reactionary Democrats that if they don’t budge, he’ll jettison the “cram down” legislation the House has already passed. Before joining us in the comments section, please take a look at this clip of Senator Merkley on the floor of the Senate explaining why this legislation, the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, is so critical: