With Congress' return came the reappearance of consumer advocates vying for lawmakers' attention. Codepink and the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America arranged a couch and some chairs on the sidewalk outside the Rayburn building on Capitol Hill this morning to protest home foreclosures.
"Do you want us to live in our cars?" Yelled Gael Murphy, one of Codepink's cofounders, as she shook a cardboard cutout shaped like a car.Freezing temperatures kept the crowd thin. Inside Rayburn, a House Financial Services hearing on the implementation of the bailout plan was just starting. Tighe Barry, who had been holding a banner that read "pennies to the poor, billions for bankers" dropped his sign and disappeared for a minute. "Hey!" He called out when he returned. "I just foreclosed on Rayburn!"Foreclosure was a common theme. Later in the morning, a group of clergy assembled behind the Treasury building to pray for "a real solution to the foreclosure crisis."Religious leaders took turns offering payers while a closely-packed crowd held signs, some listing the number of families "threatened" by foreclosure in various US states.The gathering was organized by PICO National Network, a faith-based advocacy group, and a spokesman said ahead of the event that he expected clergy from all the major religions to participate. But the prayers mostly focused on a passage in the Book of Isaiah. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was to be the "repairer of the breach," if only he could "find his way."Both PICO and NACA offer credit counseling services for mortgage borrowers. NACA has also begun an aggressive loan modification program, through which borrowers can have NACA re-underwrite their loans and submit requests for modifications to their servicers.