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Inside Washington (01/31/2008)
* WASHINGTON (2/1/08)--The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency could cut national bank exam fees for the first time in a decade (American Banker Jan. 31). The reduction amount is not known, but observers said reasons for the change include the credit crisis, national bank conversions and excess revenue. Industry officials expect the cut to be announced this month. The reduction would be the first since 1996, when former comptroller Eugene Ludwig dropped the rates by 12% for 600 national banks ... * WASHINGTON (2/1/08)--The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to consider government-sponsored enterprise reform legislation at a hearing Feb. 7 (American Banker Jan. 31). James Lockhart, director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight; Ronald Rosenfeld, chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board; and Robert Steel, Treasury Department undersecretary for domestic finance, are expected to testify ... * WASHINGTON (2/1/08)--Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd took a 15% pay cut in 2007. He received $12.2 million in compensation, with a $990,000 salary, $9 million long-term incentive award and a $2.23 million bonus (Reuters Jan. 31). Fannie Mae has been hit by the credit crisis and mortgage delinquencies, which increased its expenses in the first nine months of 2007 to $2 billion from $400 million ... * WASHINGTON (2/1/08)--Senate Democrats said they were 60 votes short of advancing their $157 billion economic stimulus package and would have to accept the less expensive House plan (The New York Times Jan. 31). However, they said they would try to make some changes to the House plan before next week’s vote. Democratic amendments include extension of unemployment benefits, food stamp increases, funds for mortgage counseling and subsidies for low-income families’ heating and energy costs. The Democrats also have yet to agree on extending the Bush administration’s terrorism surveillance program, which the Republicans are using as leverage to push the stimulus bill to the floor ... * WASHINGTON (2/1/08)—Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) said this week that she will be seeking to crack down on certain abusive credit card practices and vowed to create an independent regulator to oversee consumer protections in financial services (American Banker Jan. 31). Clinton—who is running a tough and tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination—said she would seek, among other things, a 30% cap on annual interest rates for credit cards, payday loans, and refund anticipation loans. The cap would include penalty fees. Clinton told her audience at a campaign stop in North Little Rock, Ark., that the cap would be lowered over time. The article noted that in December, Sen. Barack Obama ( D-Ill.), Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, introduced a bill that would press the Federal Reserve Board to create a five-star rating system for credit card safety ... * WASHINGTON (2/1/08)—Sen. Christopher Dodd’s plan to create a temporary government agency to purchase troubled subprime loans was criticized by Senate Banking Committee Republicans during a hearing on the proposal Thursday. Critics of the proposal said they did not believe that the country’s housing problems were bad enough to justify a $20 billion price tag for refinancing at-risk mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration's mortgage insurance program or secured under Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), said he did not want the federal government to "become an enabler," bailing out borrowers who speculated in the real estate market while home prices escalated. Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut, noted his frustrations with current attempts to address the housing crisis, which he said are not working. (CongressDailyPM Jan. 31) …

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