With debate raging in Washington about whether to give upside down homeowners breaks on their mortgages, Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison pressed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner this week to offer more loan modifications to keep families in their homes.
Advocates in the Obama administration say that taxpayer-subsidized mortgage reductions could lessen the foreclosure crisis, prevent larger losses, and steady the housing market. Many Republican critics, balking at the public expense, argue that it would encourage more foreclosures as struggling homeowners rush for the free money.
The Obama administration has been offering incentives to lenders to do principal write-downs. But Ellison and others have complained that Ed DeMarco, the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which now controls the bailed out mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie, is holding up relief.
On Tuesday, Ellison added to the pressure, much of it coming from Democrats:
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