Barack Obama has been hitting the airwaves and campaign appearances hard and heavy with reports of Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital. He points out how Romney was responsible for the closure of American Pad and Paper that left 250 people unemployed. He forgets to tell people how Romney saved so many other struggling companies like Staples and turned them around, saving hundreds jobs.
A recent report from The Daily Caller reveals that Obama’s own private sector history reads much like the one he accuses Romney of. While working as an attorney for a Chicago law firm in early 1990s, Obama volunteered to work on a case involving several black residents who believed that they were being discriminated against by Citibank Federal Savings.
At the time, mortgage lenders had a practice of not lending to anyone living in areas identified to be low income or poor neighborhoods. In many cases, such as in Chicago, these areas were predominately black communities. The lending institutions would actually draw a red border on a map to define these no lend areas, resulting in the name ‘redline districts’.
Several Chicago blacks living in a redline district felt they were being discriminated against, so they filed a lawsuit against Citibank. One of those residents was Selma Buycks-Roberson. Obama jumped at the opportunity to represent her in this case.
This case, along with several others, caused some changes to be made to the mortgage industry. In 1994, then President Bill Clinton was responsible for overhauling the mortgage industry’s lending policies. One of those provisions was to outlaw redlining practices. Clinton also forced the mortgage companies to lower their lending requirements so more people could secure a mortgage and supposedly own their own homes.
Among the new standards, the mortgage companies began pushing adjustable rate mortgage, balloon mortgage and interest only loans. Millions of Americans who were previously unable to buy a home now found themselves able to qualify for one of these creative mortgages. One of those who took advantage of the new loans was Selma Buycks-Roberson.
Years later, Selma has found herself in the same situation as millions of other Americans who bought into Clinton’s new mortgage programs. In 2001 she filed bankruptcy and in 2008 she received a foreclosure notice on the home she bought after Obama had won her case. In 2006, she owed $112,400 on her mortgage while the assessed value, for tax purposes, was $97,520 and the latest Zillow real estate database lists her home value to only be about $69,400.
Like so many others, Selma owes more on her house than it is worth and she can thank Barack Obama for helping her change the system so she could afford to get herself into this financial nightmare. What’s more, her story is not the only one. There are many others in Obama’s Chicago area that find themselves in bankruptcy and/or foreclosure as a direct result of his efforts to change the mortgage lending system and to do away with redline districts.
I remember seeing an Obama campaign ad online where they interviewed several people who had lost their jobs at American Pad and Paper because of Bain and Romney closing it down. Perhaps Romney needs to create some campaign ads interviewing people like Selma Buycks-Roberson and others in Obama’s Chicago neighborhood who have been foreclosed on or filed bankruptcy because of Obama’s legal prowess back in the 1990s.
If Obama wants to sling mud in the campaigns, which he has already, he better expect to get dirty himself when the very same mud comes flying back at him.