President George W. Bush signed a bill Wednesday aimed at boosting the American economy by shoring up the housing market and instituting mortgage lending reforms.
The bill includes $300 billion to allow homeowners in danger
of foreclosure to refinance their mortgages and expands oversight of Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac, the two U.S. government-chartered institutions that back
almost half of the estimated $12 trillion of mortgage debt in the
It includes a $7,500 first-time buyer tax credit for houses
bought between April 9, 2008, and July 9, 2009.
The National Association of Home Builders, which had long
been pushing for the legislation, heralded its becoming a
“This milestone bill
contains several provisions to get home buyers back into the marketplace, stop
the slide in home prices, provide a lifeline to borrowers facing foreclosure,
improve mortgage liquidity and bolster confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie
Mac," said association President Sandy Dunn of Point Pleasant, W.Va.
"We commend Congress and the president for taking this action to provide
much-needed relief to the American people.”
Dunn was especially excited
about the $7,500 credit available as part of the new law.
"The tax credit is the
best stimulative measure," she said. “It will increase housing demand, get
home buyers back into the marketplace and fight falling home prices, which
threaten the economy as a whole.”
Bush initially opposed the
measure as too anti-free market and threatened a veto. But widespread support
in Congress and among some member of his cabinet, along with stricter oversight
of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, convinced the president to sign the
“We look forward to put in place new
authorities to improve confidence and stability in markets and to provide
better oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said White House spokesman
Tony Fratto. “The Federal Housing Administration
will begin to implement new policies intended to keep more deserving American families in their homes.
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