ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: President Obama signed two bills – the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act – this afternoon in the East Room.
“These landmark pieces of legislation will protect hard-working Americans, crack down on those who seek to take advantage of them, and ensure that the problems that led us to this crisis never happen again.”
The President said that the two laws, coupled with the Credit Card reform bill that he “hopes to sign later this week,” have led to one of the most productive times in Congress.
“I think it's important for people to understand the significance of this week,” the President said, “This has been one of the most productive congressional work periods in some time.”
The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act removes the technical and administrative hurdles that make it difficult for borrowers.
“It expands the reach of our existing housing plan for homeowners with FHA or USDA rural housing loans, providing them with new opportunities to modify or refinance their mortgages to more affordable levels,” President Obama said, “Because many responsible renters are being unfairly evicted from homes that go through foreclosure because the owners haven't been paying their mortgages, it requires banks to honor existing leases, or provide at least 90 days notice for renters on month-to-month leases.”
The President said that the bill builds on the housing plan his administration already developed earlier this year and had a little slip of the tongue, completely negating – for a second – the benefits of that housing plan.
“Americans who participate can save up to $2,000 a year, in effect, a $2,000 pay cut per family -- tax cut, excuse me. They don't need pay cuts. That wouldn't be a good bill,” the President said laughing.
The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, the second bill the President signed today, gives prosecutors and regulators new tools to crack down on mortgage fraud and predatory lending.
“This bill nearly doubles the FBI's mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas,” the President said, “it provides the resources necessary for other law enforcement and federal agencies, from the Department of Justice to the SEC to the Secret Service, to pursue these criminals, bring them to justice, and protect hardworking Americans affected most by these crimes.”
In addition the bill also expands allows DOJ to prosecute anyone who fraudulently obtains Recovery Act or TARP funds, and creates a bipartisan Financial Markets Commission to investigate the financial practices.
The President expressed confidence in these two bills, and the broader measures that the administration is taking, to rebound the economy.
“Step by step, I believe we're moving in the right direction,” Obama said, “The stock market will rise and fall; the job market has taken a beating and won't be back immediately; the housing market still has a long way to go. I'm confident we will get there.”