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Inside Washington (12/10/2008)
* WASHINGTON (12/11/08)--A report released Tuesday by a consumer group and former Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretaries Jack F. Kemp Jr. and Henry G. Cisneros, recommended the creation of an independent housing agency to prevent housing discrimination and predatory lending (The Washington Post Dec. 9). The report said housing remains segregated and that President-elect Barack Obama should create an Office of Fair Housing to monitor abuse. The office should be created at HUD, an agency that Kemp and Cisneros said does not adequately enforce fair housing rules. For every individual who files a complaint, 150 do not--so although HUD processed 2,500 cases, there are likely four million, the report estimated. Predatory lending also increased because of lacking governmental oversight, it added … * WASHINGTON (12/11/08)—Revamping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could be more challenging than lawmakers thought, if a Tuesday House Oversight Committee hearing is indicative of the enterprises’ future. Lawmakers disagreed on the primary cause of the housing problem (American Banker Dec. 10). Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Fannie and Freddie are at the crux of the problem, while Rep. Henry Waxman, House Oversight Committee chairman, said the crisis is larger than the enterprises. Fannie and Freddie’s former chief executives, present at the hearing, also were asked how the enterprises should be revamped. Daniel Mudd, former Fannie CEO, said the enterprise’s mortgage portfolio side may be better regulated by the government, while the guarantee fee side could be handled privately. Lawmakers also expressed their frustration at the executives’ failure to the take responsibility for the enterprises’ downfalls. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) pressed Mudd on risk management. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), likened the executives’ jobs at Fannie and Freddie as “rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic” without knowing that the ship was sinking …


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