White House Urged to Fire FHFA Director DeMarco For Freddie and Fannie’s Refusal to Modify Principal and Prevent Home Foreclosures

The New York Times reports that prominent attorneys general are urging the White House to fire DeMarco as head of the FHFA for failing to adhere to Treasury’s, the White House’s and the AG’s proposal that Freddie and Fannie modify underwater home loans by reducing principal:

Led by Eric T. Schneiderman of New York and Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, the attorneys general argue that writing down the principal on underwater mortgages — those where the outstanding mortgage is greater than the current value of the home — would aid the recovery. They note that write-downs were a central part of a multibillion-dollar mortgage settlement that 49 state attorneys general negotiated with five major banks a year ago. And they say the White House should name a director to take that action.

“Our nation’s economy will never fully recover until we address this foreclosure crisis,” Ms. Coakley said in a statement. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been an obstacle to progress for far too long, and it is time for new leadership and a new direction to ensure that homeowners receive this important relief.”

Mr. DeMarco has held the position at the head of the F.H.F.A for more than three years. In the last year, especially, he has clashed with the administration over the issue of write-downs, also called principal forgiveness.

The Treasury Department has argued that write-downs would save money by reducing the chances homeowners would default. An F.H.F.A. analysis released last year seemed to show that a carefully directed program could save Fannie and Freddie money. But Mr. DeMarco has rejected the idea on the grounds that it would expose taxpayers to more losses. Fannie and Freddie have already required tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer aid.

The administration has frequently criticized Mr. DeMarco’s decision. “F.H.F.A. is an independent federal agency, and I recognize that, as its acting director, you have the sole legal authority to make this decision,” Timothy F. Geithner, who stepped down as Treasury secretary in January, wrote Mr. DeMarco last year. “However, I do not believe it is the best decision for the country.”

Yet the White House has failed to replace Mr. DeMarco.


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