You’ve got to be kidding me.
The Obama Administration, led by Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, is in final negotiations with state Attorneys General to give the tiniest slap on the wrist to the five biggest banks for years and years of reckless foreclosure fraud activities.
There was talk over the past few months about a $25 billion settlement, which would help less than 10 percent of underwater homeowners. Now today we’re hearing about an even smaller settlement, valued at around $19 billion.
Of course these are huge numbers in theory, but we’re talking about the combined financial power of Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Ally Financial. It’s not even a slap on the wrist – this is like a tap on the shoulder, or a Facebook poke.
Dave Dayen at Firedoglake points out that there is $750 billion in negative equity in America, and a $19 billion settlement will deal with about 2.5 percent of that. And helping a million homeowners is great, but there are about 11 million homes in foreclosure and another 7.5 million homes on the precipice.
Not to mention that, according to reports, the proposed settlement with the banks would keep the participating states from “pursuing various claims against them in the future.” Translation: Banks don’t want anyone to really investigate the acts they committed against the American homeowners and communities. So-called “robo-signing,” the practice of assigning one person to approve thousands of foreclosures over a short period of time without checking the paperwork, is the focus of the settlements, but could be the tip of the iceberg if the Administration launched a full-scale investigation.
This could be the last chance we have to really find out what caused the housing bubble and the economic crisis that followed. This could be the last chance to hold the real financial criminals accountable. This could be the last chance to show the foreclosure fraudsters that they can’t negotiate their way out of the consequences of ruining millions of American lives and livelihoods – they’ll go to jail for robbing us the way anyone else would go to jail for robbing a home or a store.
Luckily, Thomas Perrelli, the man at the Justice Department overseeing the settlement with the banks, is leaving the post in March. Reports say he wants to get the settlement deal before he leaves.
He needs to hear from you now. He needs to know you think this tiny slap on the wrist for years of fraud is unacceptable. And he needs to know you won’t stay quiet about it.
Write to Thomas Perrelli now. Tell him to stand up for homeowners, not the Big Banks. Tell him that Bank of America and their friends might be rich and powerful, but they aren’t above the law.