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Obama: McCain 'out of touch' on housing woes

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Obama discusses the nation's housing crisis in Nevada on Tuesday
  • Obama: McCain's approach to housing problems are problematic
  • President Bush's response was "too little, too late," Obama says
  • Obama proposes a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund
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NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday rolled out ideas he said will help stabilize the U.S. housing market, while saying President Bush's response was "too little, too late."

He also called opponent Sen. John McCain "out of touch" with people struggling to keep their homes.

"We've had enough of the can't-do, won't-do, won't-even-try approach from George Bush and John McCain," said Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. "We can't afford another president who can't be bothered to stand up for working people. It's time for a change."

Obama said he'd propose a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund that would help homeowners modify their home loans to avoid foreclosure and bankruptcy or help them sell the home if the payments grow beyond their means. Video Watch Obama talk about the housing crisis »

The Illinois senator also proposed amending bankruptcy laws to protect people trapped in predatory or misleading home loans and said that, as president, he'd raise penalties on lenders who break home-loan laws.

"Families should not be forced to stick to the terms of a home loan that was predatory or unfair," he said. "It's time to close a loophole that protects special interests while punishing working people."

Speaking at a campaign event in the Las Vegas area, Obama said he supports legislation pushed by Sen. Chris Dodd, a former Democratic presidential candidate and chairman of the Senate's banking committee, that would have the federal government insure billions of dollars in loans for at-risk borrowers in exchange for lenders reducing loan balances that are greater than the appraised value of the homes.

Obama said the plan, which is backed in the House by finance committee chairman Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, and which Bush has threatened to veto, would provide "meaningful incentives" for lenders to buy or refinance risky home mortgages and convert them into stable 30-year mortgages.

McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has called for the creation of a Justice Department mortgage-abuse task force that would investigate and help federal prosecutors who are looking into abusive lending practices.

He's proposed what he calls a HOME plan that would allow homeowners who qualify, and are behind on their home loans, to apply to a Federal Housing Authority fund that would replace their existing loan with a government-backed one.

But in his speech, Obama attacked McCain, saying the Arizona senator took too long to form a plan addressing the housing crisis and hasn't made it a priority since.

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"Sen. McCain is so out of touch with the struggles of working people that he gave a speech laying out his economic agenda last week, and he couldn't even be bothered to talk about a foreclosure crisis that has put so many families on the brink of foreclosure and our economy on the brink of recession," Obama said.

Earlier in the day, Obama met with Felicitas Rosel and Francisco Cano, a maid and hotel porter he said worked for years to buy a home and now face losing that home because of a predatory loan.

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