(WASHINGTON) — Lan Pham, an economist fired by the Congressional Budget Office two years ago, is still asking whether the watchdog agency appeared to “diminish or deny” the problem of foreclosure fraud while providing analysis to Congress.
As lawmakers enter budget season in Washington D.C., and wrangle over House Republicans’ new budget blueprint, Pham is hoping to draw more attention to the housing market’s woes.
“Why is one of the most powerful government agencies that can determine the direction of the nation’s policies appearing to diminish or deny that the issue of mortgage securitization is a problem?” she said. “If it is a problem, we have $7 trillion in mortgage-backed securities that has brought chaos to homeowners, whether or not they are in foreclosure.”
Pham said questions like those have led attorneys general to reach the $25 billion foreclosure abuse deal announced last month, and could affect not just underwater homeowners across the country, but the entire U.S. housing market.
With a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, Pham worked for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for only two and a half months before she was fired in December 2010. In Pham’s termination letter, her supervisor, Deborah Lucas, CBO’s assistant director, said “a number of performance issues are the basis for the decision.”
But Pham said she was fired for providing an analysis about the banking sector and foreclosure fraud issues involving mortgage-backed securities and robosigning that she said displeased her bosses. Pham said the main issues of foreclosure problems relate to securitization, the pooling of mortgages that collateralize mortgage-backed securities, and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, which has electronic records of ownership on about 65 million mortgages — about half in the country.
In her first interview since releasing a letter addressed to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, through the website Zero Hedge on Thursday, Pham said she is less concerned with losing her job, but rather with bringing more transparency to her former employer.
“Because you see the losses around the country from those who purchased homes with banks foreclosing on homeowners that don’t have the title to the mortgage, this is an issue where financially we’re talking about a $7 trillion mortgage-backed securities problem,” Pham, who is looking for employment, said. “To me, talking about my career is just beside the point.”
Pham wrote a letter to Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, dated Feb. 23, 2011, asking for help and explaining her story and writing that “there is room for doubt” about the perception of the CBO as objective and non-partisan.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Heather Kelly, CNN
Puja Bhattacharjee, CNN
Paul Menser, Bizmojo Idaho