CNN Talks to Homeowner Ignorant about His Loan: Is Rate Freeze 'Unfair'?

     CNN “American Morning” followed up news of President Bush’s mortgage rate freeze by asking one homeowner – who’s at least three months behind in his payments – whether it was “fair.”


     Maryland resident Ed Anderson, who was interviewed earlier in the week by CNN, said he didn’t know he had an adjustable rate mortgage until his payments went up. He won’t be affected by the rate freeze, because his already adjusted.


     “Your rates have already reset, and as we mentioned this looks at rates that are going to reset going forward. Is that fair?” anchor John Roberts asked Anderson on December 7.


     “I honestly don’t think that’s fair,” Anderson replied.


     The segment echoed talking points coming from the left – arguing that the $200 million plan simply doesn’t go far enough.


     “[A] closer look at the president’s plan suggests it covers just a fraction of homeowners,” said Roberts.


     Roberts did at least ask one tough question left out of many reports. He challenged Anderson to explain why he took out an adjustable rate mortgage that “he knew” was going to reset.


     “Well, honestly I did not know that it was going to reset because I was only told that it was actually an interest-only loan. I just honestly found this out in mid-September,” said Anderson.


      But when CNN’s “American Morning” interviewed Anderson the first time, on December 3, loan papers implied to be Anderson’s were shown onscreen. The words “ARM” and “Adjustable Rate Secured Loan” appeared in bold print.

     That report by Chris Lawrence stated that Anderson’s initial mortgage payment was $2,200 a month. Anderson told CNN that he now owes an “unreal” $3,400 a month.


     According to Lawrence, “Anderson told me even working overtime he needs about a three-week salary to pay his monthly mortgage.”


     And that would mean Anderson was already in too deep before his rate adjusted. Financial expert Dave Ramsey told CBS News that “[Mortgage] payments shouldn’t be more than 25 percent of your income.”


      Roberts didn’t mention other criticism of the rate freeze in his December 7 interview with Anderson, but Seth Jayson of The Motley Fool, John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and many others have criticized a mortgage bailout.


     “When the government takes on the risk that lenders should hold, it lowers the cost of lending,” Jayson wrote. “And that, as recent history has shown, makes people do all sorts of silly things – such as, say, sign up for terrible teaser-rate ARMs,” he explained.


     Jayson also warned about the unintended consequences of the Bush plan, which he said would result in “crunchier” credit and punish future borrowers. The Washington Post wrote on December 6 that the plan would cost taxpayers at least $200 million, money that will go to pay for counseling hotlines.