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Broader response to foreclosure crisis urged

Financial Law     updated  2008/12/09 01:38

A top House Democrat threatened Monday to tie up the remaining half of the $700 billion financial industry rescue money unless the Bush administration provides some of it for borrowers facing foreclosure.

"They're not going to get the (money) unless they get very serious about the foreclosure modifications and showing us how we're going to get some lending out of the banks," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., told reporters after speaking at a housing industry conference in Washington. "At this point I don't see that happening."

The Treasury Department says $335 billion has been allocated from the first half of the $700 billion program, which was enacted on Oct. 3. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who is overseeing the program, is weighing tapping the second $350 billion. The main goal of the program is to get financial institutions to lend money more freely again, which would help revive the economy.

Critics like Frank say many in the public — and lawmakers on Capitol Hill — were led to believe that some of the money would go to avoiding foreclosures and are frustrated that it has yet to do so.

The powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee told a lunchtime audience that the lack of meaningful aid for homeowners has undermined the government's other rescue efforts. American voters are "increasingly skeptical" of federal aid to major Wall Street banks and other large companies, Frank said.

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