Ask yourself why foreclosure rates are so high

The high mortgage foreclosure rates the country is seeing recently have caught everyone's attention - but have you asked yourself why it's happening? Why were there 1.2 million foreclosure filings in 2006? And why is the number continuing to rise?

The answer? The mortage lending industry spent nearly $210 million on Washington lobbying and campaign contributions over the past seven years, all in order to stop Congress from taking action to restrict lending abuses. They were generous...and they were successful.

As consumer and housing advocates won successes in states around the country for more regulation of mortgage lenders, the industry went to work in Congress. Their goal was to block strict regulatory legislation and pass federal legislation pre-empting state restrictions - their tool was money. Below are some eye-opening numbers on lobby expenditures and PAC donations from the largest subprime mortgage lenders, their trade associations, and corporate parents.

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Sub-prime loans come home to roost

Millions of homeowners who assumed subprime mortgages during the past decade are feeling the pressure, as adjustable interest rates have risen up to 40 percent while incomes have stagnated.

Foreclosure rates are at an all-time high with projected foreclosures estimated at 2.4 million, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

Sub-prime loans - high interest loans usually made to borrowers with poor credit records - are contributing to 60 percent of foreclosures.

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