Moral Outrage
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True Cost of Fannie Freddie Bailouts $317 Billion

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the real cost of the federal government guaranteeing the business of failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is $317 billion — not the $130 billion normally claimed by the Obama administration.

In a report delivered to the House Budget Committee on June 2, the CBO said a “fair value” accounting of guaranteeing the two defunct mortgage companies – known as Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – was more than twice as high as the Office of Management and Budget had accounted for.

Currently, Fannie and Freddie rely on explicit federal guarantees to continue to secure below-market financing rates. Because Fannie and Freddie are insolvent, the federal government must make up their losses when the loans they have guaranteed lose money in default.

However, the CBO counts not only the amount of federal funds spent to keep the GSEs operating but the cost to the federal government to subsidize the mortgage guarantees issued by Fannie and Freddie. In other words, the CBO counts as a federal spending commitment the subsidy given by the government to the GSEs.

“As of March 31, 2011, the GSEs reported a fair-value deficit of approximately $187 billion,” the CBO report stated. “Adding to that the $130 billion in net payments already received from the Treasury implies a fair-value cost to the government of about $317 billion in obligations incurred through March 2011.”

The CBO says that even though the government can print money – technically by issuing Treasury bonds – this merely transfers the risk to the taxpayer, who will eventually have to pay off the bonds issued by the government.


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