Treasury Dept. 'SWAT teams' to move in on mortgage industry: War or a joke?

The theater darkens. The coming attractions are over. The movie studio logo (your choice) appears. The screen explodes into brilliant light. Music thunders and soars. Vans marked "SWAT" fill the large screen. The "SWAT team" jumps out and rushes into ... the bank, to pressure officials there to step up mortgage modifications. The title of the film appears: " Mortgage SWAT -- The Movie." The audience laughs. Yes, I said the audience laughs. Or should!

And just as a movie audience should laugh at such a silly idea for a film, people should laugh even harder since this is no movie script but real life (no, not real life television ... real, actual, life! (The type with no syndication rights!)

As part of phase two of the Obama plan to get lenders to reduce mortgage payments (phase one, in case you didn't notice, failed almost totally), the Treasury Department has announced it will dispatch three person "SWAT teams" to "monitor the eight largest companies' work and requesting twice-daily reports on their progress," reports the Associated Press.

Also, as WalletPop reported earlier, the government plans on publishing a list of shame of mortgage companies that are not really doing enough to modify mortgages ... which is pretty much all of them.

But don't get your hopes up on this one, future foreclosed homeowners. The government official sort of in charge is also blaming YOU for not really understanding the complex paperwork the mortgage companies give you. "Borrowers must understand the urgency of getting their completed paperwork in so they do not miss out on the opportunity for more affordable mortgage payments," the head of the Treasury Department's home ownership preservation office tells the A.P.

Critics will argue that the documents are so damn confusing, no one really understands them. Gee, you think just maybe that's because the mortgage companies want it that way? Call me a cynic. But also call me right.

Besides, the best way to stop home foreclosures now is to put people back to work.

Jane Law, with the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, for example, tells New Hampshire Public Radio that, "If unemployment is the reason that people are defaulting on their loans, then a loan modification without regained employment isn't going to help. You're going to lose your house."

Get the feeling we are being swindled....again?

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle."
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