From the WSJ:
Paulson Dismisses Mortgage Rescue Plans
Bernanke Keeps Door Open to Rate Cuts To Boost Economy
By MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS and GREG IP
February 28, 2008; Page A1
The Bush administration is hardening its opposition to the chorus of Democrats, bankers, economists and consumer advocates calling for a big-money government rescue program for struggling homeowners.
In an interview yesterday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson branded many of the aid proposals circulating in Washington as “bailouts” for reckless lenders, investors and speculators, rather than measures that would provide meaningful relief to deserving, but cash-strapped, mortgage borrowers.
Mr. Paulson’s comments came amid signs that the nation’s housing market is getting worse, not better. Indeed, at a House hearing yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke kept the door open to further interest-rate cuts to boost the economy, even as he warned that inflation pressures have intensified in recent weeks.
President Bush and other administration officials have voiced skepticism before about a major government effort to ease the burden of the nation’s housing slump. But Mr. Paulson’s comments are the most explicit to date in laying out the administration’s opposition to the recent spate of rescue plans.
Mr. Paulson, citing estimates that as many as two million Americans could lose their homes to foreclosure this year, predicted that the administration’s market-based approach will be enough to keep the situation under control. Its centerpiece is a plan that encourages the mortgage industry to voluntarily ease up on certain borrowers.
“I don’t think I’ve seen any scenario where the American taxpayer needs to be stepping in with more taxpayer dollars,” Mr. Paulson told The Wall Street Journal.