States revolt against Biden’s ‘disaster’ mortgage redistribution rule to subside risky loans

Story by Peter Kasperowicz

State treasurers and other top finance officials from 27 states on Monday urged President Biden to end what they said was his “unconscionable” policy of forcing people with good credit scores to subsidize mortgage loans of higher-risk borrowers, and warned Biden’s plan would be a “disaster.”

Biden’s plan was outlined just a few weeks ago by the Federal Housing Agency (FHFA) and is set to take effect today. The plan is aimed at helping lower-income borrowers afford their monthly mortgage payments – it would do so by forcing people with good credit scores to pay more each month for their mortgages, extra payments that would be credited to the loans of higher-risk borrowers.

The controversial policy has been attacked by both Republicans and Democrats, including President Obama’s former Federal Housing Administrator. On Monday, financial officers from 27 states weighed in and said it was clear the policy was a mistake even before it takes effect.

“It is already clear that this new policy will be a disaster,” they wrote in a letter led by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity that was sent to Biden and FHFA Director Sandra Thompson. “It amounts to a middle-class tax hike that will unfairly cost American families millions upon millions of dollars. And – at a time when the real estate market has already slowed considerably due to high interest rates – it will further depress home sales.”

The policy was proposed by Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra L. Thompson, and it is set to take effect May 1, 2023. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images) Getty Images© Getty Images

“We urge you to take immediate action to end this unconscionable policy,” they wrote.

The state finance officers blasted the plan for turning the normal system of home buying incentives “upside down” by hurting people who make sound financial decisions.

“The policy will take money away from the people who played by the rules and did things right – including millions of hardworking, middle-class Americans who built a good credit score and saved enough to make a strong down payment,” they wrote. “Incredibly, those who make down payments of 20 percent or more on their homes will pay the highest fees – one of the most backward incentives imaginable.”

It noted that the forced extra payments will be used to hand out “better mortgage rates to people with lower credit ratings. Others have said the plan would make it easier for people with shaky credit histories to afford more expensive mortgages, a move that could put more people at financial risk.

The state officials said that while expanding homeownership is a worthy goal, the forced subsidization of risky loans isn’t the way to do it.

“The right way to solve that problem is not to use the power of the federal government to penalize hardworking, middle-class American families by confiscating their money and using it as a handout,” they wrote. “The right way is to implement policies which will reduce inflation, cut energy costs and bring lower interest rates.”

The letter was signed by treasurers, auditors, commissioners of revenue and other top officials from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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