The Housing Chronicles Blog: White House rejects Democratic housing package

Thursday, April 24, 2008

White House rejects Democratic housing package

The Bush Administration does not agree with the housing package proposed by Democrats, arguing that it puts taxpayers at risk. From a CNNMoney story:

A top housing official said Thursday that the Bush administration "strongly opposes" a Democratic housing rescue package, calling it a bailout that would expose taxpayers to excessive risk.

Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Roy A. Bernardi also indicated that President Bush would veto a bill sending $15 billion to states for the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed properties.

The comments, in separate letters to lawmakers, were the most forceful rejection yet by the Bush administration of Democrats' housing aid plans. And they were the clearest indication to date that the White House intends to put up a vigorous fight against a bill to let the Federal Housing Administration take on as much as $300 billion in new mortgages for financially strapped homeowners...

The Bush administration has previously questioned the scope and structure of the plan, although it backs the central concept: adjusting FHA's rules so more homeowners can refinance into government-backed loans.

An administration program, called FHASecure, made similar changes, but it is limited to borrowers who have good credit and histories of making their payments on time. It also doesn't require lenders to accept losses on existing mortgages.

Doing so, Bernardi wrote, would "significantly limit lender participation."

Frank has been working to draw Republican support for his plan, which he says has a good chance of becoming law this year.

But first, Democrats will have to deal with strong GOP philosophical objections to any measure that inserts the government into the housing maelstrom - especially one that could help people who are victims of their own irresponsible decisions.

"It will unfairly benefit a few homeowners and many investors and speculators at the expense of millions of careful borrowers and renters," said Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. "The message that we risk sending to financial institutions and individuals is that when they willingly take on excessive and ill-advised risk, the government will ride to their rescue."

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