The only way out of our national mortgage crisis is through widespread debt forgiveness.

It’s been three years since the Great Recession began, and the American housing market remains in what those in the financial industry call a “death spiral.” Of the 55 million families in the US with mortgages, 20% of them are under water—that is, they owe more on their mortgage  than their entire house is worth.

In this Nation Conversation with managing editor Roane Carey, The Nation‘s national affairs correspondent William Greider argues that the main social and financial protections of the New Deal reforms that led to the creation of America’s middle class are being destroyed—and that the government must actively intervene to help homeowners refinance. In fact, Greider argues, it’s time for widespread debt forgiveness for those homeowners who were misled into predatory deals by the same financial institutions that were bailed out by the government for their mistakes. You can read Greider’s analysis of the housing crisis here.

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—Teresa Cotsirilos