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Obama's Refinancing Plan Returns With a Vengeance

by Chicago Agent

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After severals months of inactivity, President Obama is reaffirming his commitment to a new refinancing plan for underwater borrowers.

By Peter Ricci

More than seven months after its initial unveiling, Barack Obama’s refinancing plan will make a return to Capital Hill on September, as the president renews calls for Washington to assist the nation’s underwater homeowners.

The announcement is hardly a surprise; after all, numerous outlets had criticized the president’s campaign for failing to include housing in its policies, and a refinancing plan definitely places the president away from the positions of presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, whose running mate, Paul Ryan, we recently profiled.

Housing Refinancing Plans on Capital Hill

As HousingWire points out, Obama’s plan, which the president says will help 11.4 million borrowers refinance with average savings of $3,000 a year, is far from the only refinancing plan currently on the Congressional table:

  • One plan, suggested by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., would involve another expansion of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers; in the first half of 2012, nearly 423,000 mortgages by Fannie and Freddie refinanced under HARP, more than all of 2011.
  • Another bill, from Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, would create a $6 billion fund to insure new loans for FHA borrowers.
  • And a third bill, from Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, would have Fannie and Freddie waive the refinancing costs if borrowers refinancing under HARP opted for a shorter term mortgage.

Republican Opposition

At a Monday press conference, President Obama attempted to reframe the importance of the savings a housing refinancing plan would bring.

“That’s a big deal,” he said, about the $3,000 his plan would save. “That $3,000 can strengthen equity in the home. Or that’s $3,000 they can spend for a new computer for their kid to go back to school.”

Still, one has to wonder about the political feasibility of a refinancing plan. As we first reported way back in January, today’s Congress is a deeply divided political body, and given that this is an election year, few analysts are giving the president’s refinancing plan much of a chance.

But what do you think? Can the president’s charm and eloquence persuade lawmakers to adopt his refinancing plan?

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