Michigan's gubernatorial candidates faced off in their one and only debate of the election on Sunday, spending much of their time discussing how to get the state's struggling economy back on its feet.
The candidates were challenged on the possibility of a statewide moratorium on mortgage foreclosures, in light of recent revelations that banks have used bogus affidavits to take people's homes away. Bank of America recently announced that it was halting foreclosures in all 50 states to investigate whether mortgage servicers signed foreclosure documents without reading them.
Democrat Virg Bernero has already called for a foreclosure moratorium and reiterated his support in tonight's debate:
BERNERO: I'm worried about the consequences of the fraud and the problems and the mistakes that are happening from Wall Street that is pressing down on our people. We need to stop that immediately. I'm delighted and pleased that Bank of America has said they're going to stop in Michigan immediately. We need the other Wall Street banks to follow suit. We need a moratorium for all people in Michigan, so that they can review their practices and know what they're doing. I say we should err on the side of the homeowner. Let's err on the side of keeping people in their homes. The vast majority of people -- nobody's trying to trick the bank. Nobody's trying to hold back. People are good people who are going to pay their bills.
Republican Rick Snyder said he opposes a blanket moratorium. To back up his position, he cited President Obama's opposition to such a policy. "I believe President Obama came out today and talked about how that would not be a good idea," he said. Snyder added that if banks are doing anything wrong, the state of Michigan needed to stand up and enforce the law.
Bernero responded that "in fact, the banks are doing plenty of things wrong, and the rules aren't working." "The banks are getting away with murder," he added.
On Friday, Bernero put out a press release applauding Bank of America's news, stating, "These banks have admitted their actions are leading to foreclosures for people who don't deserve it and it's got to stop now." Bernero called for a moratorium as early as April 2009.
As The Huffington Post's Arthur Delaney reported last week, calls are mounting banks to halt foreclosures nationwide. "I write to request that your mortgage-servicing division suspend foreclosures on Nevada home owners until systems are in place to ensure Nevadans are not being improperly directed into foreclosure proceedings," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote in an Oct. 3 letter to Ally Financial, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and JPMorgan Chase. Senators, representatives, civil rights organizations, and state attorneys general have made similar calls.
The Obama administration, however, is opposing a moratorium. "I'm not sure about a national moratorium because there are in fact valid foreclosures that probably should go forward," White House adviser David Axelrod said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday. Last week, the President vetoed a bill that some consumer advocates believed would have made it tougher for homeowners to fight fraudulent foreclosures.
Snyder has a heavy lead over Bernero, leading by 20 percent in a recent poll.
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