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Lindsay Newland Bowker

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Immunity From Criminal Liability For Banks In Exchange for $30 billion in consumer loan write downs: Deal or No Deal: Justice or No Justice

Several Weeks Ago here at TED Conversations we visited this white house proposal at "Is Any One Above the Law?"

http://www.ted.com/conversations/5724/is_anyone_above_the_law_is_it.html

At that time little had appeared in the press about it . Now it is about to become a done deal and there has been much written about it..mostly in opposition. Moveon is circulating a petition to stop this deal fearing the money won't go far and the sttlement may keep secret forever things we all need to know. New York's attorney general and others have refused to be pressured into cooperating with this deal and are still planning to push ahead with their own suits.

Also since then, it has become clear that the Bank of America, central to the mortgage scandal via their subsidiary Countrywide is on the verge of collapse. from the fall out and lawsuits already successful against them. They just lost a $30 billion suit against JP Morgan ( case dismissed) and are facing huge suits from Freddie Mac and Freddie Mae to recover losss on the fueled mortgages. It's possible that Bank of America may not be around long enough to even pay up their share of the $30 billion.

This seems like a perfect issue for TED Conversations. It truly is a moral dilemma, a tricky policy question with much at stake for victimized consumers and much at stake for transparency and truth.

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    Nov 4 2011: Rep Tammy Baldwin (d.wisconsin) has drfated a resolution that will address the inequites in the agreement the prseident has been urging everyone to sign that would gant crimanial immunity to banks.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/03/tammy-baldwin-immunity-banks-foreclosure_n_1072909.html

    Reso,itions are a great way for direct democracy to work without creating a new law or a new set of regulations. They set a course. They set standards for how a specific decsion should be made. They are positice. directive..much better much more powerful than merer petition sof opposition. Maybe our petitions of opposition woul dbe more powerful and gove more guidance to our lawmakers if we expressed them as what we want..in the wording of people's resolutions.
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    Nov 3 2011: Question 7 One odd provision of the deal provide $1,500 payment to every homeowner foreclosed since 2008. Is $1,500 adequte compensation for someone who was wrongly foreclosed ( eg a robo closing)? Shouldn't thos erroneously foreclosed homeowners be made whole? Have their homes back and a clean credit record?
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    Nov 3 2011: 6. Was it wrong for the White House to strong arm States Attorneys General to not pursue their own criminal actions against these banks for violations in their states affecting residents of their states? Does this deal have such an overriding public interest that it should over ride and supercede states rights?
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    Nov 3 2011: Question 4:Only $5 million of this deal is in cash to the government for use in adjusting mortgages for troubled homeowners chaeted by Bank of America's subsidiary, Country wide. ( and others). $30 biilion is in write downs that the banks themselves will be doing. Can we trust banks to do this fairly? Should some guardian ad litem for the consumers..oversee that? Can we trust that homeowners will see a timely and fair dispersal of this $30 billion. Should it be approved if the whole $30 billion is goign to be done by banks?
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    Nov 3 2011: Question 3: The collapse of the Bank of America could send shockwaves throughout the whole financial system..shockwaves that will be felt by you and me..by all of us in the 99%. Does that put us over a barrel on this deal? Are we forced to save Bank of America as we were forced to save AIG ?
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    Nov 3 2011: Question 2: We don't know all the details of this deal. It is possible that the indemnity from criminal liability may also preclude a through innvestigation of what happened..and conceal the possible comlicity of people still in office as regulators or elected officials. If you otherwise approve of this deal, is this a deal breaker? Is it too much to ask that we give up any transparency on this?
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    Nov 3 2011: Question 1: The collapse of Bank of America, which is a possibility, would preculde recovery of any money from them for the damages they have caused to consumers. Is that a reason to take a "bird in the hand". and approve this deal?
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    Nov 3 2011: Here are several links with excellent background ( provided from the Move On Website

    1. "A Deal That Wouldn't Sting," The New York Times, October 29, 2011
    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=266863&id=32549-18941728-P7MZTGx&t=5

    2."'Robo-signing' of mortgages still a problem," CBS News, July 18, 2011

    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=266864&id=32549-18941728-P7MZTGx&t=6

    3.. "White House officials defend economic efforts, hit Republicans for blocking," The Hill, October 30, 2011

    http://www.moveon.org/r?r=266865&id=32549-18941728-P7MZTGx&t=7

    4.http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/State-accuses-Bank-of-America-unit-of-thousands-1743800.php
    This artcle is abouta suit by washington State attorneys general based n their finding that very single mortgage foreclosure by a Bank of America subsidiary in Seattle since 2008 has been illegal. Every single one. Thats all post bubble /post collapse.

    And here is a link to another petition being circulated to block this action:

    http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/obama_ws/letter.html?registered=1&r=231841&id=29865-4491906-0td9M5x&country=United%20States&petition_id=1206&redirect_url=%2Fcampaign%2Fobama_ws%2Fletter.html