Home Affordable Modification Program, On the cutting board?

House Republicans pushed through legislation last Tuesday to terminate an underachieving Obama administration program designed to reduce mortgage payments for homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

Most Democrats, while acknowledging that the Home Affordable Modification Program has fallen short of original goals, protested the vote to kill it. The White House, in a statement, said that if the bill ever reaches President Barack Obama’s desk, his senior advisers would recommend he veto it. The vote was 252-170.

The GOP-led House this month has voted to kill three other programs aimed at reviving the struggling housing market, including one to aid homeowners who have lost their jobs or become sick and another helping state and local governments buy and revamp abandoned properties. All face veto threats in the unlikely event they clear the Senate, but they have given Republicans a platform to show their commitment to ending inefficient or expensive federal programs.

The HAMP program, said Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., chairwoman of the House Finance Committee’s housing panel, is “a poster child for failed federal foreclosure programs.”

HAMP, enacted two years ago with funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, offers incentives to loan servicers to modify loans for people having trouble making payments. But the Treasury Department has no authority to compel banks and loan servicers to participate, and so far the program has only modified about 600,000 loans, well below the 3 million to 4 million anticipated.


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