Barack Obama has emerged as a leading candidate for the president of the United States. With a host of influential supporters—including Oprah Winfrey–the Obama campaign is making a huge impact on the political landscape. BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with the Illinois senator to talk about some of the more pressing issues facing African Americans today.
Born: Aug. 4, 1961 in Honolulu
Spouse: Michelle Obama
Alma mater: Columbia University; Harvard University Law School
Profession: Junior U.S. senator from Chicago (since 2005)
Black Enterprise: News about the housing industry has been mostly bad these past several months. Do you think it is the federal government’s responsibility to help homeowners fight and avoid foreclosure? And should lenders be penalized for making enticing loans that were doomed for failure?
Sen. Obama: I introduced comprehensive legislation more than a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. My STOP FRAUD Act will provide the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increase funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, create new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and require industry insiders to report suspicious activity. The bill also provides counseling to homeowners and tenants to help them avoid foreclosure and gives borrowers additional rights to protect themselves during foreclosure proceedings.
As president, I will create a Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will allow individuals to easily compare various mortgage products and understand the full cost of the loan. The HOME score would also help borrowers understand their long-term obligations and would be required to include mandatory taxes and insurance.
I will also create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and avoid foreclosure. The fund will also assist individuals who purchased homes that are simply too expensive for their income levels by helping to sell their homes. The fund will help offset costs of selling a home, including helping low-income borrowers get additional time and support to pay back any losses from the sale of their home and waiving certain federal, state, and local income taxes that result from an individual selling their home to avoid foreclosure. The fund will be partially paid for by increased penalties on lenders who act irresponsibly and commit fraud.
Q: How do you propose to address the deficit in public infrastructure such as the deteriorating condition of public school buildings, bridges, levees, etc?
A: As president, I will make strengthening our transportation systems, including roads and bridges, a top priority; support the development of high-speed rail networks; and work with Congress to modernize the nation’s air traffic control system. I also believe that we can lead the world in broadband penetration and get true broadband to every American through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies, and applications, and new tax and loan