Paulson to Address GOP Concerns on Housing Bill
With GOP concerns over the proposed Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac bailout bill continuing to percolate, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will meet privately this afternoon with House Republicans to try to allay their fears.
Paulson will meet with the House Republican Conference behind closed doors in the Capitol at 4 p.m., as an increasing number of GOP lawmakers are voicing doubts about the overall wisdom of the bailout of government sponsored enterprises and the process by which Democratic leaders are crafting the broader housing package that will be used as a vehicle for it.
"I don't think anybody on our side of the aisle thinks that we ought not do something to ensure some stability in the housing markets and the credit markets," said Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the GOP's chief deputy whip.
"The problem is, the way that the majority seems to be bringing this about is nothing but using a crisis ... and exploiting that to bring some of their favorite pet projects to the floor for passage. They control this place. They can bring a clean GSE bill to the floor that I think could get broad bipartisan support. But a bill that does come to the floor should have in it some protection for the taxpayers. It should have, at this point in time, some meaningful reform" of the GSEs.
Cantor said the GOP was looking for a stronger regulator of the GSEs to prevent future crises from developing. And House GOP Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) said Paulson needed to address the uncertainty many Republicans feel in going forward.
"The long-term impacts of taking what had been a suspected, implicit government guarantee [of Fannie and Freddie] into an explicit guarantee by virtue of congressional action is one that all of us are trying to understand better, and that's why we're bringing in Secretary Paulson," Putnam said, adding that he and others wanted to hear Paulson explain exactly why he and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke took the actions they did over the weekend.
"We are, in effect, legislating in the midst of a crisis," Putnam said, "and it's important that we get it right, given the fragile psychological state of the markets."
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