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Clinton Makes Housing Push

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) plans to call Monday for both Congress and the administration to provide more “emergency help” to families and communities suffering from setbacks because of the bloodbath in the mortgage market.

“Over the past week, we’ve seen unprecedented action to maintain confidence in our credit markets and head off a crisis for Wall Street Banks,” she said in prepared remarks. It’s now time for equally aggressive action to help families avoid foreclosure and keep communities across this country from spiraling into recession.

In a preview provided by her campaign, Clinton says she wants Congress to pass additional relief on the order of the $30 billion that the Federal Reserve backed to rescue the failing Bear Stearns investment bank.

“Congress is trying to combat a recession caused by the housing crisis without doing anything to address that crisis,” she says in her text.

Clinton also proposed an Emergency Working Group on Foreclosures that she said “could be led by a distinguished, non-partisan group of economic leaders like Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker and Robert Rubin.”

“This is the kind of proactive step that would help re-establish confidence in our economy by showing that this administration was taking our economic crisis seriously,” she said in prepared remarks.

The Obama campaign’s Bill Burton said in reply to the announcement that Clinton was giving a major speech on housing: “Hillary Clinton’s ties to the financial industry – most clearly apparent through money she has raised from their PACs and lobbyists – demonstrate just how entrenched she is in the old Washington ways of doing business. We simply cannot achieve the sort of changes in our economic outlook the American people need right now, if we don’t change the way we do business in Washington.”

Clinton, speaking in Pennsylvania ahead of the state’s April 22 presidential primary, said the president needs “a president who can restore our confidence” and “a president who is ready to confront complex economic problems with comprehensive solution.”

“We need a president who is ready on day one to be commander in chief of our economy,” she says in her text. “If you give me the chance, I will be that president. I will start by facing our economic situation as it is, not as we hope or wish it would be. That means acknowledging that our economic crisis is, at its core, a housing crisis.”

Clinton announced a plan to “Protect American Homeowners” that will give the government a greater role in government role in buying out underwater mortgages and protecting homeowners.

“The time for action is now,” she said. “Not a month from now, or a year from now – but right now.”

Here are excerpts from her plan, titled, “Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Protect American Homeowners: Helping Struggling American Families, Not Just Wall Street Banks”:

—“Senator Clinton believes we should extend the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) capacity to guarantee restructured mortgages as proposed by Rep. Frank and Sen. Dodd. She believes that using an FHA guarantee to encourage private sector auctions of large mortgage pools is the preferable way of unfreezing our struggling mortgage market. However, she announced today that the government should stand ready to play a more proactive role in purchasing, restructuring, and reselling underwater mortgages.”

—“A High-Level Emergency Working Group on Foreclosures to Investigate How to Achieve Broad Restructuring of At-Risk Mortgages. Hillary believes we cannot afford to wait until Congress passes legislation to determine the viability of the Dodd/Frank auction mechanism, or whether it will be necessary for the FHA or a similar entity to act asa temporary intermediary purchaser of mortgages. Therefore, she is calling on President Bush to appoint an Emergency Working Group on Foreclosures to address this question within the next three weeks. The group could be headed by eminent leaders like Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, and Bob Rubin—each of whom supports one of the remaining candidates in the Presidential race.”

—“Easing Legal Liability for Mortgage Servicers to Help Unfreeze the Mortgage Market. Many mortgage servicers who want to work with families are deterred out of fear of litigation. Senator Clinton is introducing legislation to provide them with legal protection when they act to help struggling homeowners to modify mortgages.”

—“A New Housing Stimulus Package With at Least $30 Billion for States and Localities to Fight Concentrated Foreclosures. After passing a $168 billion stimulus package with virtually no action to address the housing crisis that is driving down our economy, Senator Clinton is calling for a second, housing-focused stimulus package. She believes that if we can extend a $30 billion lifeline to avoid a crisis for Wall Street banks, we should extend at least $30 billion to help states and localities fight foreclosures in their communities.”