"DeMarco is kicking me out of my home! Principal reduction now! Dump DeMarco now!" Those were the words that rang out and interrupted Federal Housing Financial Agency Acting Director Ed DeMarco as he began his opening testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday.
Fourteen protestors followed suit -- waving signs and interrupting the hearing as Republican House Chair, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, swung his gavel in order to silence the protestors. Shortly thereafter, five of the protestors were arrested. These underwater homeowners and community leaders, who are part of Right to the City's "Homes for All" and the New Bottom Line's "Dump DeMarco" campaign, traveled to Capitol Hill to have their voices and demands heard in front of Congress and all the way to the White House.
Watch the video of the prostest here.
Four years ago, President Bush appointed DeMarco to run FHFA, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored agencies that control more than half the mortgages in this country. For much of his career, DeMarco has worked for different parts of the federal government, without much of a ripple. But through the last year, DeMarco's continued ideological opposition to principal reduction -- also known as resetting mortgages to fair market value -- has made him widely known one of the biggest obstacles to our country's economic progress.
After the big banks crashed the economy five years ago, there are now more than 10 million underwater homeowners. DeMarco's actions are forcing these families into more debt, foreclosure and yes, out of their homes. Meanwhile, DeMarco is refusing to let homeowners who had been facing foreclosure, but can now afford to buy back their home at fair market value, purchase their home back.
Ramon Suero, an underwater homeowner who is being kicked out of his home because of DeMarco's bad policies, led the protest at the hearing. (Read his story and the petition to stop DeMarco from kicking him out of his home.) "Ed DeMarco's policies are putting my three kids, my wife, and I out on the street. If the president doesn't get rid of him, he's responsible for putting millions of Americans just like me on street as well."
That's why protestors were demanding that President Obama dump DeMarco and immediately nominate a permanent director that will allow principal reduction at Fannie and Freddie and stand with homeowners and taxpayers. With principal reduction, homeowners and the economy will get the boost that is so desperately needed. Instead of focusing on a false deficit problem, President Obama can move real policies and actions that will strengthen our economy.
The protestors are not lone voices in the woods. In February, 45 members of Congress, led by Reps. Cummings and Tierney, called on President Obama to oust DeMarco and nominate a new director. Last Friday, Senator Stabenow (D-MI) stepped out to echo this call. And on Monday, eight attorneys general joined together with a message to President Obama.
"Our nation's economy will never fully recover until we address this foreclosure crisis," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been an obstacle to progress for far too long, and it is time for new leadership and a new direction to ensure that homeowners receive this important relief."
News reports are leaking that President Obama is close to naming a nominee. Great. Now is the time to get rid of DeMarco. But it's not enough to announce a nominee who continues DeMarco's bad policies. It's time for a director that will move principal reduction and stand with homeowners and taxpayers. That's the kind of leadership millions of families and our economy needs.