The amazing mortgage settlement with the banks appears, at first, to be costing the banks — not much — but at least something for the abuses (like lying on affidavits during foreclosures, for example) inflicted on hapless homeowners.  But it turns out the banks will be able to access the government's HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Plan) to cover reductions in loan principals.  The much ballyhooed payments by banks to homeowners are chicken feed in comparison.  Of course, in all the press conferences highlighting the latter, no one informed the poor taxpayers about the banks' access to HAMP funds.  Just who pays for HAMP?  The poor taxpayer … while the banker lights a celebratory cigar in a private club, and the politician gets his wad of cash for the next election.

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