Bachmann, Foreclosures and the Limits of Representative Democracy
“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” — George Bernard Shaw
At The Minnesota Independent, TWI’s sister site, Andy Birkey points out an odd discrepancy between state foreclosure rates and the priorities of lawmakers who represent the various districts.
Take Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), for example. Her district just north of the Twin Cities, Birkey found, suffered an estimated 5,227 foreclosures in 2008 — the most of the eight congressional districts in the state. And yet:
Bachmann voted against five key foreclosure relief bills, including the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, which would set standards for mortgages and reduce predatory lending, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Act, which would provide funds for buying and rehabilitating foreclosed properties in affected neighborhoods. She also opposed the Expanding American Homeownership Act, which allows more people to qualify for FHA-backed mortgages, and the Expand and Preserve Home Ownership Through Counseling Act, which aims to improve financial literacy. Bachmann additionally voted against the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, a law signed by President Bush that contained many provisions to assist struggling homeowners and also the only one of the bills to become law.
In fact, Birkey writes, “Bachmann hasn’t authored or sponsored any legislation to assist homeowners facing foreclosure, but she has co-sponsored 14 bills to restrict abortions and five to promote Christianity in government.”
Birkey then compares this track record to that of Rep. Keith Ellison (D), who represents Minneapolis. Residents in Ellison’s district suffered 4,413 foreclosures in 2008 — second only behind Bachmann’s district. In response, Birkey says, Ellison has authored legislation to prevent predatory lending practices and to help renters living in foreclosed buildings.
Ellison is also a co-sponsor of 12 other bills aimed at providing relief to individuals and communities impacted by the foreclosure crisis. His voting record in Congress on housing is virtually the opposite of Bachmann’s.
Shaw, it appears, might have been on to something.