After collecting thousands of petition signatures, hudreds of personal stories, and delivering them to the White House earlier this year, The New Bottom Line community is pleased to read today's Financial Times report that the White House is finally moving forward the much-needed replacement of Ed DeMarco, the interim director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Here's an excerpt from the full Financial Times piece (pay site):
In July, when Edward DeMarco refused to implement a debt-reduction scheme championed by the White House, Tim Geithner, US Treasury secretary, accused him of making a decision that ran contrary to the best interests of the nation.
It was one of a number of decisions taken by the Washington career bureaucrat which have stymied the Obama administration’s most aggressive efforts to boost the US property market, by blocking refinancings and forgiveness of troubled borrowers’ mortgages.
But if Mr Obama wins re-election, Mr DeMarco's days may be numbered, with senior White House officials quietly telling housing industry activists in recent weeks that he will be replaced. Mr DeMarco oversees state-controlled mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the twin housing groups that control more than half of all outstanding US home loans.
He temporarily was named acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency in August 2009 by Barack Obama, US president, after the previous director left for the private sector.
He is still there three years later, despite clashes with the White House and the Treasury department over various administration proposals to aid the housing market.
In 2010, Senate Republicans opposed Mr Obama’s choice to replace Mr DeMarco and have since said they would be unwilling to support other candidates who support principal reduction schemes. Administration officials have argued there are few qualified candidates willing to take the demanding position. Some borrower advocates have argued that the White House has kept Mr DeMarco in office in part because it provides the administration with an easy excuse when questioned about why they have not done more to prevent millions of home seizures.
But in the past few weeks, Obama administration officials – including Gene Sperling, director of Mr Obama’s national economic council, and Jon Carson, director of the White House’s office of public engagement – have told Democratic groups that they hope to oust Mr DeMarco in the coming months, most likely by replacing him via an appointment while Congress is not in session, according to people familiar with the matter.
Administration officials have asked housing groups to supply a list of potential candidates. Officials made their statements most recently on September 13 during a White House housing summit.
Read more at FT.com(pay site)
It is long past time for DeMarco to go.
For too long, DeMarco has obstinately and ideologically opposed principal reduction within Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This opposition has come even when it's been documented by Fannie and Freddie that principal reduction would benefit homeowners and taxpayers.
DeMarco is supposed to be working for homeowners, but as Acting Director, has systematically worked against them.
The New Bottom Line and its members Alliance for Just Society, National People's Action, PICO National Network and Right to the City had over 40 community members and homeowners present at the White House Housing Summit earlier this year, where we repeated our call on the administration to replace DeMarco. You can read more about what homeowners told top White House administration officials at the meeting.