LAS VEGAS -- Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much these days but Nevada's congressional delegation has found at least some common ground regarding the foreclosure crisis.
They agree that Wall Street bankers are mostly to blame for the economic calamity now swirling around most Nevadans.
Trillions of dollars have vanished. Millions of jobs are gone. Untold Americans have been forced out of their homes and into bankruptcy. Democrats and Republicans may not agree on the proper role for government in all of this but they do agree on just whose fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime -- the bankers and big shots of Wall Street. And since causing the crisis, the banks have been even worse by pulling dirty tricks to avoid mortgage modifications, accepting billions in bailout money but failing to do what they promised.
"We hear a lot of horror stories about getting the paperwork in and then being told you're missing one page, then another, and then now your package is out of date and you need to start all over," said Republican Congressman Joe Heck, Nevada.
Heck hired a professional real estate agent to work in his office to help constituents facing foreclosure. But what's needed, he says, is for Congress to pressure or force lenders to negotiate new mortgage deals with homeowners.
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley says her staff hears story after story of sneaky stuff pulled by banks on homeowners trying to do the right thing.
"Why won't lenders stand in line to do mortgage modifications so that we don't have whole neighborhoods decimated, with people moving out? Some banks and lenders are in mortgage modification discussions, then the homeowner gets a notice they're working with the bank and they think they will get relief, and they get a notice the bank sold the property from under these families. That is an outrage," said Berkley, a Democrat.
She vehemently disagrees with those who think the government should do nothing to prevent foreclosures.
Senator Dean Heller is not surprised so many people have taken to the streets. He thinks the law, as written, encourages banks to foreclose rather than negotiate. But what really bugs him are the bailouts.
"That's the whole reason for this whole uprising and why you are seeing this Occupy Movement. It's because we're out there bailing out banks. We're out there bailing out Wall Street. We're out there bailing out big government and the automotive industry and so on and so forth. What are we doing for the other 99 percent? I think they have a legitimate concern," said Republican Senator Dean Heller, Nevada.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted for the bailouts as a necessary evil but says the banks took the money, then weaseled out of the deal.
"Yeah, we bailed out the banks to stop a situation that was horrible from getting worse, and part of the reason we bailed out the banks is so they would have the resources to help homeowners and small business people. They have been a big flop. These big banks control so much. Our bailing them out stopped a situation from getting worse but they did not let the money trickle down. They've kept it all," Senator Reid said.
The delegation agrees the banks caused the problem but when it comes to preventing it from happening again, things get murky. The fact is, Wall Street has 3000 lobbyists in Washington which is five lobbyists for every member of Congress. It hands out more money than any other source. The banks are now bigger, more concentrated, more powerful than when the crisis began and have been able to resist calls for greater oversight.
Housing prices continue to go up around the Las Vegas valley. The…
A moment of silence was held at Shadow Ridge High School…
As the temperatures climb, so does the crime, according to law…