tv Meet the Presss Press Pass NBC October 30, 2011 11:30am-11:45am EDT
pass to extra "meet the press" conversation about what's driving washington. this week the ranking member of the house committee on oversight and reform congressman cummings, democrat from maryland. also former chairman of congressional black caucus and taking a leading role in the president's plan to stem the housing crisis plaguing the middle class and so many midsoutherners across the board. good to have us with us. >> good to be here. >> i want to ask you about politics in general. i look at polling that shows 89% of americans don't trust the government. when you think about that, think about president obama's policies, about this economy, does that make it hard for him
to win re-election. >> i think it makes it pretty difficult, but i think the president will win, because i think when people -- once the republican nominee is put forth, i think there will be a comparison between president obama and that nominee, and i think we'll come out on top every time. >> so you think it's got to be a comparison. because if it's simply accountability for what the president has done or not done, you don't think that comes out well for him. >> that makes it very difficult. >> it's about taking down the other side. >> i think the president recognizes that. i think what happens, people are looking for authenticity. that's what i find in my district. people want to know that government feels their pain, that folks care about them, and that when we make commitments we keep those commitments. when they begin to feel that's not happening, they get upset. >> interesting i talked to prominent business leaders who said we're kind of in this
overpromise mode. government has overpromised and the results are not there. when you talk to people in their district, that's what they are complaining about and are they disappointed in the president specifically? >> a lot of people in my district feel the president may have overpromised but they feel his inability to deliver is not all his fault. they feel that the president has been met with just tremendous opposition from republicans. almost anything that he tries to do, the republicans beat him up and go in the opposite direction. so they don't necessarily blame him for everything, but they are concerned, because a lot of them, the people in my district losing their houses, lost money, losing their jobs, so they are really, really kind of low. but again, i think the president will win for another reason. that is that a lot of people see the alternative as being far worse than what has gone on so far. in other words, they believe the president has been on the right path but blocked over and over again.
they believe if he has freedom of a second term he can do what he needs to do. >> when you see these protests around the country, occupy wall street movement, do you think there's a real message there about unfairness, inequality? >> yes, no doubt about it. i don't have any problem with the protest. i think it's very important. i tell my constituents that there is a silent majority, that i think most people feel the way the protesters feel. they are not as loud as the tea party has been. so now they are getting a chance to give this opinions through this occupy wall street effort. i think they are being heard. it may not be as loud as i'd like it to be heard but i think it's being heard. >> let me ask you about housing. i think we should both be careful to keep it accessible, the conversation accessible, so people understand what we're talking about. you have some seminars in your district. tell me what people are coming and what they are saying. >> it's one of the most painful or one of the most joyful things i do. about every six months, we have what we call foreclosure
prevention seminars. we have about 1,000 to 1,250 people come out. david, you see people come out, grown men literally crying because they are about to lost their house. we bring lenders together with borrowers, sit down and work out modifications. by the end of the day, people walking out with tears of joy. we're table to help usually about 75% of the people that come in. but it should not take a congressman to make a modification happening. that's what i'm concerned about. >> the big picture is that home prices are falling still. there are millions of people, approaching 15 million underwater in their mortgages, so they owe more than their home is actually worth. millions more falling behind on their payments. really the obama administration hasn't done anything to really
address the key problem in this economy, which is housing. if this is not turned around, can the economy improve? >> no. as a matter of fact, mr. bernanke, the fed chair said in a hearing that i was in the other day, he said, look, we cannot get past this recession unless we deal with the housing problem. mark zandi, as you know, one of mr. mccain's former advisers said that fixing the foreclosure problem is ground zero if we're going to have jobs and get this economy moving. we have to deal with the foreclosure problem. >> what president is talking about now has limited impact. you can refinance if you've been up to speed on payments for some big loans that are guaranteed by fannie mae and freddie mac. the larger question seems to be, is the government going to be in a position to pay down and forgive some of the principle. >> i think the government could do more. first of all, i applaud the president for what he's done.
i wish it had been done southeastern and i wish it had been done in a bigger way. this recent effort is going to affect about 900,000 people. we've got millions, david, that need help. a lot of people do not realize how important foreclosure, dealing with foreclosure is. people look at these efforts and say it doesn't affect me. they don't realize, their property value is going down. when one house on a block is foreclosed upon, it may bring down the value of other houses make 10, 15%. >> conservative views, one of the only countries in the world literally propping up housing market. two big mortgage giants in the country guaranteeing 90% of the mortgages. they are now, in effect, owned by the federal government we're not allowing the market to bottom itself out and the true correction to happen. is that just harsh conservative orthodoxy happening? >> that's very harsh. david, you sound like -- those arguments are the same arguments we heard mr. romney make just
recently in a debate. >> that's what i'm suggesting, that's the argument being made. >> i disagree with that. when i see people losing their houses and nowhere to go and no place to live, and they have got children, neighborhoods are destroyed, people are -- values of their houses going down, their neighbors, david, we can't do it that way. >> do you actually think that the government should bail out homeowners who are in danger of foreclosing? >> not necessarily bail out. >> for giving some of the principle would be -- >> yes, do i. >> wouldn't that be seen -- either you have to make the bank right or you have to say to a homeowner, here is a subsidy to help lower the principle of what you owe so you're not under water. >> i think several things can be done. first of all, i think they can write down principle. for example, having bankruptcy courts write down principal so
homeowners can address the problem. have interest rates suspended for five years why they make payments on the principle. these are things the president can do without the congress. in other words, kinds of urging mr. demarco, the head of fha, using his leverage to affect those services not affected, loans that are not affected by the fannie mae and freddie mac. >> we'll take a quick break here and be back with more press pass conversation with maryland congressman elijah cummings. woe talk politics including why the tea party supports herman cain. now, is the way to create a better tomorrow. that's why we're announcing, that with the planned merger with t-mobile, at&t will begin bringing five thousand jobs to america from overseas. we will invest eight billion dollars more...
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and we are back as we continue our weekly "press pass" conversation with congressman elijah cummings. let me ask you, first of all this fast and furious issue that's come before your committee. do you have questions about the attorney general about how this was handled? >> i have looked at the documentation. i think the attorney general said it, as a matter of fact, i know he said it. he said this was a fiasco. i don't have too many questions. i've seen the documents. i've seen reports of the interviews, talked to various folks involved in this. i think there was -- this was a situation where it was done from the bottom up and not the top down. in other words, there was some folks in arizona who came up with this plan. they thought they were doing the right thing.
it was a total fiasco. i think everybody along the line will admit it. i think there are some on the committee trying to make it sound as if this started in the u.s. attorneys office in washington with mr. holder. i have seen no evidence of that. none. >> what's the chairman of your committee, darrell issa up to. >> i've said it before. i think this is a witch hunt. a lot of this is politics. trying to make this u.s. attorney look bad. that is the attorney general, then trying to make the president look bad. i think mr. mcconnell said it best. he said the number one goal of -- that is mr. mcconnell was to make sure this president does not serve a second term. i talked a little bit earlier about these efforts to destroy this president. i think this is part of it. >> let me ask you quickly about herman cain on the other side and the issue of race.