Rescue ignores homeowners

Published 11:14 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This week on Capitol Hill, a congressional review panel is sharply criticizing the Bush Administration and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for how it is using the first $350 billion of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The problem is it really hasn’t offered any relief to struggling homeowners and thus is not doing what was originally intended, which is to reduce foreclosures and bring some stability back to the housing market.

“The American people need to understand Treasury’s conception of the problems in the economy and its comprehensive strategy to address those problems,” according to the panel’s report, which indicated Treasury’s option for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to guarantee and purchase 30-year fixed mortgages is shortsighted because it is only aimed at new home buyers. “The program does not appear to offer any help to already distressed homeowners.”

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Although the panel’s criticisms and tough questioning, which is expected to continue today, are valid, there has to be concern that the game plan was not known in more detail before the administration was $350 billion into it.

To be asking questions now about what constitutes the “comprehensive strategy” is too late and should have been known in more detail before the keys were handed over. At this point, only $15 billion from being halfway through those funds, there appears to be little progress in actually addressing the problem.

Treasury’s idea to pump money into the banks may well give them needed capital, but that tactic does not make it one bit easier for homeowners to get back on their feet and return stability to the market.