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Press Release Published: Jul 28, 2010

Issa Assails Treasury’s Housing Program Numbers Gimmick

WASHINGTON. D.C. – A report from Huffington Post revealed that “the Obama Administration has revised its latest monthly report on its signature foreclosure-prevention plan, deleting a heavily-criticized performance metric used to measure whether assisted homeowners are re-defaulting on their taxpayer-financed mortgages.”

“This is just the latest in what has been an extensive effort by the Treasury Department to manipulate HAMP data to disguise their failure,” said, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  “It’s unsurprising and yet incredibly consistent for Treasury to try and shift blame, rather than accept responsibility for the program’s dismal performance.  Are the American people really to believe that Treasury did not know about the discrepancy in the underlying data until after they released the report?

Last week, the Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) Neil Barofsky, released its quarterly report blasting the Treasury Department for instituting “the equivalent of a fully deployed TARP program” without transparency and for setting “meaningless” standards to measure the true impact of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), characterizing it as “anemic” and a “government program that does no more than subsidize activity that would have occurred in its absence is not an efficient or effective use of taxpayer dollars.”

“The fact that the Obama Administration is treating TARP like its own personal slush-fund is beyond egregious and a complete betrayal of what the American people were told would be then when their tax-dollars were used to bailout Wall Street,” said Issa.  “How many more reports will it take forWashington to wake-up to the reality that dumping more good money after bad only prolongs and deepens the economic crisis that is costing millions of Americans their jobs and their homes?  All the while, despite repeated warnings from the SIGTARP, the Treasury Department has managed TARP with less transparency, less accountability exposing taxpayer dollars to even more waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.  There’s a real disconnect between the false image of success and propaganda that the Administration is desperately trying to project and the facts, which report another month of more homeowners being kicked out of HAMP than are receiving permanent mortgage relief.”


SIGTARP Assails Treasury for Increased Spending, Decrease in Transparency:

  • “Indeed, the current outstanding balance of overall Federal support for the nation’s financial system … has actually increased more than 23% over the past year, from approximately $3.0 trillion to $3.7 trillion – the equivalent of a fully deployed TARP program, largely without Congressional action – even as the banking crisis has, by most measures, abated from its most acute phases.” (p.5)
  • Treasury has either refused to implement or only partially implemented 20 of SIGTARP’s recommendations for basic transparency and accountability in the operations of TARP. [CH – This mismanagement leaves the program less transparent, less accountable, and more susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse.] (p.183-190)
  • “Treasury has already jumped into the deep end of the moral hazard pool through TARP in general.” (p.175-76)

SIGTARP ramps up its criticism of the HAMP program:

  • “Unfortunately, HAMP continues to struggle to achieve its original stated objective, to help millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure ‘by reducing monthly payments to sustainable levels…’[T]he number of homeowners helped through HAMP through permanent modificationsremains anemic … and HAMP has not put an appreciable dent in foreclosure filings.” (p.6)
  • “One continuing source of frustration is that Treasury has rejectedcalls to announce publicly any goals or performance benchmarks for HAMP or its related initiatives concerning how many homeowners it actually expects to help stay in their homes, despite repeated recommendations that it do so from SIGTARP, the Congressional Oversight Panel and the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”).” (p.6)
  • “Instead, Treasury clings to its prior statements that it plans to offer trial modifications to three to four million homeowners, a measure that SIGTARP has previously shown to be essentially meaningless.Treasury’s refusal to provide meaningful goals for this important program is a fundamental failure of transparency and accountabilitythat makes it far more difficult for the American people and their representatives in Congress to assess whether the program’s benefits are worth its very substantial cost.” (p.6-7)
  • “The American people are essentially being asked to shoulder an additional $50 billion of national debt without being told, more than 16 months after the program’s announcement, how many people Treasury hopes to actually help stay in their homes as a result of these expenditures, how many people are intended to be helped through other subprograms, and how the program is performing against those expectations and goals. Without such clearly defined standards, positive comments regarding the progress or success of HAMP are simply not credible, and the growing public suspicion that the program is an outright failure will continue to spread.” (p.7)
  • “First, American taxpayers and their representatives in Congress have an absolute right to know what the Government’s specific expectations and goals are for using the $50 billion that will be added to the national debt as a result of this program.” (p.174)
  • “Treasury’s continued refusal to provide benchmarks for itself leaves it vulnerable to accusations that it is simply trying to avoid accountability. If Treasury sets no meaningful goals, it cannot be held accountable for failing to meet those goals and instead can continue claiming each incremental increase in participation a success, irrespective of the program’s cost or whether it could have been designed to help more homeowners.” (p.174)
  • “There is a growing consensus that re-defaults will indeed be a problem in HAMP.” (p.177)
  • “Simply put, a Government program that does no more than subsidize activity that would have occurred in its absence is not an efficient or effective use of taxpayer dollars ….” (p.178)