Who is Brad Miller?

Gretchen Morgenson in this New York Times article tells us about this former consumer lawyer turned US House Representative from North Carolina: 

“He is worth getting to know, not only because of his deep concern about the foreclosure epidemic, but also because he has made a compelling recommendation to level an exceedingly tilted playing field in mortgage finance.”

[Ed.:  He has proposed a bill designed to eradicate at least some of the rampant servicer conflicts, theMortgage Servicing Conflict of Interest Elimination Act. ]

Mr. Miller’s bill has not gained much attention since it was introduced in March. But it ought to, because the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law is utterly silent on servicer conflicts.

“The bill would give these institutions a reasonable amount of time to divest either their servicing businesses or their interests in home mortgages, Mr. Miller said. A likely outcome is that the four biggest banks would spin off their mortgage servicing operations. This would not only resolve the conflict between loan servicers and investors, but it would also result in smaller, less complex banks, he said. That is surely a major benefit.”

“These mortgages were not designed to increase homeownership; they were designed to trap people in debt and strip the equity in their home as home prices appreciated,” Mr. Miller said. “For the financial industry, that increasing wealth from middle-class homeowners was an attractive target; if they could trap families in a cycle of borrowing every three years or so, then a lot of increased wealth in their homes would end up in the financial sector rather than with those families.”

Mr. Miller recognizes that his is an uphill climb because the big banks have many friends in high places across Washington. “Americans have come away from this persuaded that everything has been done to help the banks and not to help them,” he said. “And in a democracy, that’s a real problem.”

Still, he said he has recently noted a slight shift in the balance of power. “I’ve seen the banks going from losing no fights to losing a few fights,” he said. “What I’ve found is the more fights we pick, the more success we have.”

Here’s to more fights, then. Many more.

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