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October 24th, 2011
Obama to Proceed Without Congress

President Barack Obama this week will announce a series of actions to help the economy that will not require congressional approval, including an initiative to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, according to a White House official.

 

The actions come as Obama is facing resistance from Republicans to a $447 billion jobs package he has urged Congress to pass.

The first of the initiatives will be unveiled during Obama's three-day trip to western states beginning Monday.

He will discuss the changes in mortgage rules at a stop in Nevada, which has one of the hardest-hit housing markets in the country.

The Obama administration has been working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to find ways to make it easier for borrowers to switch to cheaper loans even if they have little to no equity in their homes.

The FHFA intends to loosen the terms of the two-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which helps borrowers who have been making mortgage payments on time but who have not been able to refinance as their home values have dropped.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the changes should boost refinancing because they will let banks avoid the risk of any "buy-back" on a HARP mortgage as long as borrowers have made their last six mortgage payments and they prove that they have a job or another source of passive income.

They are also set to reduce loan fees that Fannie and Freddie charge and waive fees on borrowers that refinance into loans with shorter terms, the Journal said.

Pricing details won't be published until mid-November, and lenders could begin refinancing loans under the retooled program as soon as December 1, the newspaper reported, citing federal officials. Loans that exceed the current limit of 125 percent of the property's value won't be able to participate until early next year, the report said.

 

In Denver Wednesday, Obama will announce a student loan initiative.

 

"The only way we can truly attack our economic challenges is with bold, bipartisan action in Congress," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer told The New York Times.

"The president will continue to pressure Congressional Republicans to put country before party and pass the American Jobs Act, but he believes we cannot wait, so he will act where they won't."

(SOURCE)

(Reporting by Caren Bohan and JoAnne Allen. Editing by Sandra Maler and Chris Wilson)

 

FLASHBACK:

Facing growing opposition to his economic proposals and dimming prospects that Congress will pass other parts of his agenda, President Obama told a Hispanic group in Washington Wednesday that when it comes to the issue of immigration, "I'd like to work my way around Congress."

 

"As I mentioned when I was at La Raza a few weeks back, I wish I had a magic wand and could make this all happen on my own," Obama told a meeting of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "There are times where -- until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again -- I'd like to work my way around Congress."

 

As he continued, Obama conceded that "we've got laws on the books that have to be upheld."  But he quickly added there are different ways to uphold the laws on the books. "You know as well as anyone that…how we enforce those laws is also important," Obama said.  Last month, the administration made a major, unilateral change in immigration law enforcement when it announced that the government will not initiate deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants unless they have committed serious crimes. 

 

To critics, Obama had indeed worked his way around Congress. 

 

To the Hispanic Caucus, Obama said his new policy will "prioritize criminals who endanger our communities, not students trying to achieve the American dream."

 

The bigger problem, Obama said, is that sort of unilateral enforcement (or non-enforcement) only goes so far.  "We live in a democracy, and at the end of the day, I can't do this all by myself under our democratic system," he said.  "If we're going to do big things -- whether it’s passing this jobs bill, or the DREAM Act, or comprehensive immigration reform -- we're going to have to get Congress to act."

 

This is the second time in recent months that Obama has publicly mused about going around Congress to enact immigration reform.  In that speech to La Raza in July, he said that "some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own" -- a prospect Obama said he found "very tempting."  But the president quickly added, "that's not how our system works."

 

(SOURCE) 


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