The Bible used to swear him in had barely cooled before newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump wielded his authority to hurt vulnerable Americans. One of his administration's first orders of business was a cruel move to eliminate help for poor homeowners.
In a move that was previewed during HUD Secretary-designate Ben Carson's confirmation hearing, the brand-new administration of President Donald Trump has made one of its first moves to suspend a reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums:
The Trump administration overturned a mortgage-fee cut under a government program that’s popular with first-time home buyers and low-income borrowers.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development on Friday said the agency is canceling a reduction announced last week while President Barack Obama was still in office. The Federal Housing Administration had planned to cut its annual fee for most borrowers by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.60 percent, effective on Jan. 27.
The decision will hit low-income homeowners particularly hard, as the planned cut would have "reduced the annual premium for someone borrowing $200,000 by $500 in the first year," according to Bloomberg News.
Carson expressed surprise at the Obama administration's announced reduction, and promised to "examine" the policy altogether.
And in case there is any doubt where Carson's concern over federal mortgage insurance lies, he dispelled that in his confirmation testimony. When Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) suggested that mortgage insurance should all be handled by private companies, Carson urged caution for this jaw-dropping reason:
Does it have to be, you know, one particular entity that does it? Absolutely not. But we do have to have a mechanism, a backstop, you might say, of some type. Otherwise when someone comes in and buys up the loans, securitizes them, we're probably not going to be able to sell them, you know, to particularly some of the entities that would buy them, because they wouldn't be comfortable.
Our potential next secretary of Housing and Urban Development thinks mortgage insurance is necessary so that mortgages can be bundled and sold. Whatever decisions are still to come about FHA mortgage insurance, it clearly will not be with homeowners' best interests in mind, but rather with repeating the mistakes that led to the mortgage crisis to begin with. And if low-income Americans are harmed in the process, this administration appears not to care.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor to speak out about this cruel move:
Mr. President, President Trump said in his inaugural address this afternoon that "for too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth." He promised to combat that trend.
But in one of his first acts as President, President Trump made it harder for Americans to afford a mortgage by reversing a recent decision by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reduce annual insurance premiums that many borrowers pay — saving new homeowners an average of $500 per year.
What a terrible thing to do to American homeowners. President Trump, with the flick of a pen, ended that new policy, making it harder for Americans of modest means to obtain their piece of the rock, the American dream — home ownership. It only took an hour for those populist words delivered on the steps of the Capitol to ring hollow. Actions always speak louder than words.
Mr. President, Democrats agree with President Trump on this — the working man and woman of America do not need more promises. They need policies that give them a leg up. Help them succeed. Help them afford a home, for instance.
We urge President Trump to reverse this decision and give new homeowners across America their $500 dollars back.
In just the first minutes of the Trump era, we are already seeing where this team's priorities lie, and bold-faced evidence of the need for vocal resistance to it.