There's a reason that English is the most widely spoken language on the planet: It's the most highly adaptable, capable of evolving to meet new needs in the blink of an eye. For example: Just last year, offering mortgages at a cheaper-than-market teaser interest rate with little or no money down was known as "predatory lending." But conditions changed – specifically, the party occupying the White House – and now we call that style of lending "national policy."
The new definition was provided by Predator-in-Chief Barack Obama last week while making his daily announcement of a new bailout plan, this one for homeowners who took on mortgages they can't afford during banking's go-go days earlier this decade. Offering them cheaper new terms on their loans – at taxpayer expense, of course – will help us bolster "those core values of common sense and responsibility, those are the values that have defined this nation," Obama said.
Only churlish Language Nazis would quibble with those bold new definitions of common sense and responsibility, much less note the extraordinary resemblance between Obama's mortgage-lending practices and those of the reptilian bankers he denounced so often during his presidential campaign:
• Down payments? We don't need no stinking down payments! Just like the bankers, who lured customers with deals that required no money upfront (at the height of the mortgage boom in 2005, 43 percent of first-time buyers didn't put down a single penny), Obama's plan doesn't call for the traditional 20 percent down. Instead, homeowners will be allowed to borrow more than their houses are actually worth. Just a week ago, being upside down – owing more on your loan than the market value of your house – was considered economically debilitating; now it makes you a prime customer.
• Hey kid, wanna smoke some mortgage crack? The first rock is free! Through a combination of government subsidies and arm-twisting of banks, the Obama plan will slash interest rates – in some cases, probably to less than 3 percent – until a borrower's payments are no more than 31 percent of his gross income . . . for the first five years. Then the interest rate jumps to market levels. A week ago, that was known as an "exploding adjustable-rate mortgage," because so many of the people who took them got financially blown up.
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