Romney foreclosure assault continues

Democrats are intent on embarrassing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney using remarks he made to the Review-Journal editorial board last month about the state’s foreclosure crisis.

For those who missed it, here are Romney’s extended remarks from the Oct. 17 editorial board:

“As to what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things you can do to encourage housing? One is, don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up, and let it turn around and come back up. The Obama administration has slow walked the foreclosure processes that have long existed, and as a result we still have a foreclosure overhang.

Number two, the credit (that) was given to first time homebuyers was insufficient and inadequate to turn around the housing market. I think it was an ineffective idea. It was a little bit like the cash-for-clunkers program, throwing government money at something which was not market oriented, did not staunch the decline in home values anymore than it encouraged the auto industry to take off. I think the idea of helping people refinance homes to stay in them is one that’s worth further consideration. But I’m not signing on until I find out who’s going to pay and who’s going to get bailed out, and that’s not something which we know all the answers to.”

By the way, Romney articulated what most of the Republican candidates appear to believe, which is that there is no role for government in solving the housing crisis and that the free market should be allowed to work its magic. Texas Congressman Ron Paul has made similar remarks.

But since it’s Romney in the lead, and because President Barack Obama announced a help for (some) homeowners plan during his recent Las Vegas visit, the Democrats have been enjoying Romney’s candid comments since he made them. Last week, former Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley (mother of the Nevada foreclosure mediation program) and six members of the state Senate called on Romney to apologize for his remarks.

(Today, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid made a show of signing the petition, declaring  “I encourage all Nevadans to join me in signing this online petition calling on Mitt Romney to apologize for his out-of-touch remarks regarding our state’s foreclosure crisis. With the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, Nevadans can’t afford someone in the White House more concerned with Wall Street banks than families struggling to keep a roof over their head.”)

Thus far, Romney hasn’t apologized.

Then there’s this: A key Romney fundraiser is a man who made a bundle when the housing market crashed. Hedge fund titan John Paulson has donated to Romney’s campaign personally and has given $1 million to the “super-PAC” dubbed Restore Our Future PAC, which has supported Romney.

Paulson has held at least three fundraisers for Romney in the past couple months, and the latest one is scheduled for Wednesday in New York City.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Paulson made more than $3 billion personally on his belief that the housing bubble was about to burst, while his company made $15 billion. The Journal called his profits “unreal, even cartoonish.” He also made a sizable donation to the Center for Responsible Lending, which was lobbying for a bill that would have enabled bankruptcy judges to write down the value of mortgages, a move that would have benefited Paulson’s position in the housing market.

Moreover, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated a project at Goldman Sachs requested by Paulson that bet against the housing market, a project that made money when the market collapsed. (Paulson was not named in the case against Goldman Sachs, although the company paid $550 million to settle it.)

At a time when he’s under fire for insensitivity to the problems faced by underwater homeowners, Paulson is not the guy Romney wants to be throwing him a fundraiser. That’s especially true given Romney’s popularity in Nevada, which just happens to be the foreclosure capital of the United States. How long will it be until we see an ad here mulling about Romney campaigning on money raised in the crash of the housing market?

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