A Bailout by Another Name

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Published: March 24, 2012

The acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency and overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Mr. DeMarco is a soft-spoken, career public servant — and under fire. In the thankless job of conservator for the loss-ridden mortgage finance giants, he has a duty to ensure that the companies operate in the best interests of the taxpayers who own them. That means working to keep a lid on the companies’ losses, which now total $183 billion.

But in recent weeks, Mr. DeMarco has come under increasing pressure to chuck his obligation to taxpayers and make Fannie and Freddie write down principal on mortgages held by troubled borrowers. He says, with reason, that such a program would run counter to his legal obligation to pursue only those activities that pose the least cost to taxpayers.

Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who supported Fannie Mae almost to its collapse, has called for Mr. DeMarco’s resignation because he is “too rigid” on the issue.

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