Yesterday, at a candidate forum in Chicago held by the American Muslim Task Force, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was asked point-blank about H.R. 3808 (the Interstate Recognition of Notarizatons Act).
Her answer reveals exactly why Americans are frustrated with Congress, and why incumbents like her are in trouble:
“I don’t know what it is.”
There’s really no excuse!
H.R. 3808 would make states recognize documents notarized in other states. It has drawn wide criticism, since many banks have recently admitted that they have been using people called “robo-signers” to sign hundreds of documents without reading them. That is partly why Bank of America and other banks have halted foreclosures in the past few days.
H.R. 3808 could theoretically allow abuses of the foreclosure process to happen more easily. Yet it passed unanimously and without debate in both the House and the Senate, because nobody bothered to read it or object to it.
Unlike the ObamaCare legislation, H.R. 3808 is not thousands of pages long. In fact, it is less than one page long.
Yet almost nobody, Republican or Democrat, bothered to examine it or to think about its possible effects.
On Thursday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama would not sign H.R. 3808. The decision made big news: as the Wall Street Journal noted, “It is technically his second pocket veto, but the first of a bill the White House opposed.”
The news was carried in most major newspapers. H.R. 3808 was the subject of the lead editorial in the Journal. Floyd Norris of the New York Times wrote that a friend had called the bill: “Forgery Is O.K. When the Bank Does It Act.”
Some argue that H.R. 3808 is necessary to help banks clear their bad loans and restore life to the housing market. Regardless, any politician who really cares about foreclosures ought to have known about H.R. 3808. But Schakowsky didn’t, though she talked about the “corrupt” nature of the foreclosure process. She added: “I don’t know the specifics of that legislation.”
The irony for Schakowsky is that the candidate forum in which she was asked about H.R. 3808 was on Devon Avenue–the very street she claimed to have “saved” from foreclosures in September.
In reality, her intervention on Devon Avenue represented the worst of Chicago pay-to-play politics. And her answer to a sincere, non-planted question was a complete blank.
Schakowsky has repeatedly blamed Wall Street’s “recklessness” for the financial crisis and the foreclosure mess. Yet her failure to inform herself about H.R. 3808–even after President Obama says he’ll veto it–sets a new standard for “reckless.”
If members of Congress can’t be bothered to read a short bill before they vote for it–never mind a long one–why should we send them back to Washington?