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Inside Washington (02/05/2009)
* WASHINGTON (2/6/09)--The House Financial Services Committee Wednesday approved a package of bills to increase liquidity and stem foreclosures. One bill, H.R. 786, would make permanent the $250,000 deposit and share insurance increase enacted as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Currently the fund must be replenished in the year that it drops below the required level. The amended version extends the period to five years. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supported the measure and an amendment to increase the National Credit Union Administration’s borrowing power to $6 million (News Now Feb. 5). The bill also would triple the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s borrowing power to $100 billion (American Banker Feb. 5). Another bill the committee passed would reduce the fees and required writedowns for servicers participating in the Hope for Homeowners Program. Other legislation passed in the package would protect servicers who modify loans by shielding them from investor lawsuits ... * WASHINGTON (2/6/09)--An inspector general in charge of overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) said in a report this week that the Treasury needs to develop a better strategy on what to do with the portfolio it manages on behalf of taxpayers( Feb. 5). He said it will ask recipients of TARP funds how they used the government money by requiring them to provide documents and plans to comply with executive compensation restrictions. The inspector general also said the Treasury is not properly valuing assets obtained through TARP. The Treasury has spent $300 billion to stabilize the financial sector and has incurred much criticism ... * WASHINGTON (2/6/09)--Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) expressed doubt that the Federal Reserve Board should fill the role as a systemic risk regulator (American Banker Feb. 5). The central bank has not handled its current power very well, and acting as a systemic regulator could undermine the bank’s independence, Dodd said at a hearing Wednesday. Dodd also noted that he is thinking about molding all of the bank regulators into one, which would be preferable to the “alphabet soup” of regulators today, he said ... * WASHINGTON (2/6/09)--The challenges that small businesses face in providing health care for their employees was the topic of a House Small Business Committee hearing Tuesday. Years of double-digit premium increases have hit the business community hard, especially small firms, and the issue must be addressed, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said at the hearing. Health care reform should make the market for health insurance more competitive, he added. Graves said he supports association health plans, where small business owners could jointly purchase insurance plans at lower rates ...


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