Sen. Menendez, Rep. Garrett Face Off on Mortgages

Tuesday, 01 Nov 2011 10:45 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Two influential New Jersey members of Congress — one a Democrat, the other Republican ­— are engaged in a head-to-head fight over help for “underwater” mortgage holders, according to the Bergen County Record.
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and Republican Rep. Scott Garrett both head subcommittees that deal with housing finance, and their views couldn’t be any further apart — especially when it comes to dealing with the nation’s severely depressed housing market.
The Record reported Tuesday that Menendez is pushing for an increase in the size of mortgages that can qualify for government-backed refinancing, while Garrett is leading an effort in the House to shut down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Menendez has succeeded in winning Senate passage of an amendment that would raise the “conforming loan limit” maximum to $729,750 for government-backed loans to help homeowners who owe much more than their houses are worth with refinancing. Garrett’s subcommittee, meanwhile, has approved 14 bills that would dismantle Fannie and Freddie bit by bit, according to the Record.
Garrett has also vowed to “do everything in my power” to shut down the Menendez amendment when it reaches the House because, he says, the cost would end up being paid by the taxpayer.
Garrett told the Record that taxpayers are still paying for the bailout of Fannie and Freddie, which were taken over by the government in 2008, and shouldn’t have to bear the cost of underwriting expensive refinances.
“The hypocrisy of Senate Democrats is at an all-time high,” he said. “How can they claim the so-called ‘rich’ should be paying higher taxes and then turn around and say the American taxpayers should be on the hook for their mortgages?”

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