Putting more pressure on the banks to help troubled homeowners refinance has emerged as the most likely option, given the extreme difficulty of persuading the GOP-controlled House to set aside more money to avert foreclosures.
The administration could dramatically speed the pace of home mortgage refinancings by clearing obstacles at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency, which has oversight of the mortgage giants, has been hesitant to take an activist role. Obama's hands are tied because Senate Republicans refused to confirm his nominee to replace DeMarco.
A White House official said Obama has taken the housing crisis seriously since the start of his term and will look to augment the effort in the months ahead.
“From day one the President has worked to stabilize the housing market and help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, including through refinancing efforts, foreclosure prevention programs and programs directed at the hardest hit states,” said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage.
“The President will continue to expand on these efforts and look at new ways to help homeowners, just as he has over the past few months with new programs to help underwater homeowners and expanding forbearance so more unemployed homeowners can stay in their homes,” she said.
There are things the Obama administration can do without Congress, but considering that the GOP is eager to block, obstruct, and dismantle any executive agency that could possibly help, it's going to be a tough fight. Should Republicans keep the House and/or gain control of the Senate next January, it'll be even worse. And should they capture the White House, well, you can forget any help to anyone but the banks that ruined the housing market in the first place.