The last time we visited this promise, the Senate had rejected a proposal that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify the original terms of home mortgages. This can involve reducing the amount of principal that the person owes on a home, which would have the effect of lowering mortgage payments. Policymakers typically refer to this type of a reduction as a "cramdown."
Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia proposed the measure as an amendment to a larger financial reform bill. Marshall said that the rule made more sense than sending a home to foreclosure.
"Here"s how cram down should work," Marshall wrote in a letter to constituents. "Following well established and predictable process, the bankruptcy court should assure that secured creditors get at least the value of their collateral. The debtor must pay this amount to the creditor, with interest, over time. In many cases, the debtor"s cram down obligation to the lender will be more than the lender would have obtained through foreclosure. Not only are foreclosure costs avoided, but since the judge typically picks a market value, not a foreclosure value, for the collateral. The bill as amended not only offers this possibility of gain for the creditor, it also provides that the creditor shares in any increase in the property value if the property is sold within five years."
The House didn't see the appeal of the measure, though, and voted it down 188 to 242, with 71 Democrats voting against the measure.
The Obama administration did very little to lobby for the provision, preferring instead its voluntary mortgage modification plan known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, or Making Home Affordable, said Samuel Gerdano, executive director of the American Bankruptcy Institute. The institute is an association for professionals who work on bankruptcy issues, including attorneys, judges, bankers and accountants.
"This provision ain't happening in this Congress, or likely ever," Gerdano said.
Given that the cramdown provision has been voted down in both the House and the Senate, we rate this Promise Broken.