Desert Underwater: Nevada Lawmakers Propose Solutions - 8 News NOW

Desert Underwater: Nevada Lawmakers Propose Solutions

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LAS VEGAS - A strong dose of good, old-fashioned guilt would be a welcome change on Wall Street said U.S. Senator Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican.

"The problem is there's no shame on Wall Street. There's no shame at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. There's no shame in the banking industry," he said.

The bankers who are the true architects of the economic collapse have already returned to their old habits - paying themselves huge bonuses while homeowners face foreclosure. Heller wants at least some of the big bonuses to be wiped out.

"We have put over $140 billion in taxpayer dollars, hard-working taxpayer dollars, into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and then we hear an announcement that Fannie and Freddie are going to give almost $13 million in bonuses to their executives," he said. "I just want to make sure you understand - the people who are watching this - that's wrong. That's wrong, and I wrote a letter to the administration and to President Obama and said to stop these bonuses."

Democrat U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley thinks the more excessive bonuses paid by other Wall Street giants are also out of whack, especially at a time when businessmen and political candidates are urging Washington to stay out of the foreclosure crisis and let troubled homeowners sink or swim on their own.

"There are people in this country who think we need to hit rock bottom," she said. "How much further down do they want us to go? We have people who were middle class until a couple of months ago or a year ago, and they can't afford to stay in their homes. It's outrageous."

Berkley says the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, was designed to help homeowners negotiate a new mortgage with lenders, but it is a spectacular failure. She says it excludes so many people who need help, and there's nothing that forces banks to cooperate. She favors a law that will order banks to come to the table.

"The idea that lenders can voluntarily do this is not right because they are not stepping up and not doing enough to help people. It makes no sense to me," she said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says several programs were created to help homeowners but most of them depend on the banks to one degree or another. So, billions of dollars that could help Nevada homeowners remains stuck in the pipeline.

"There are a number of bottlenecks as far as I'm concerned," he said. "The number one bottleneck is the people who hold the loans. The banks are difficult to work with. They refuse to move forward."

Reid's office has five staffers working full-time on foreclosures and he's helped hundreds avoid foreclosure. He says it's a drop in the bucket. His ultimate solution to the housing crisis is not about housing.

"I have been saying help is on the way for a long time," he said. "The only thing to solve our problems as a country is to put the $14 million people who are out of work back to work."

U.S. Representative Joe Heck, a Republican, wants to come at this from the other side. He's writing a law that would give homeowners a second chance by repairing the credit that was damaged by foreclosure or a short sale. That would mean they would have a chance to once again own a home, something that at present looks nearly impossible for many of them.

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