(Related: Average rate on 15-year mortgage loan falls to record low of 3.13 percent; 30-year rate also dips)
The administration had previously rejected some of these efforts on the grounds that they were wrong on the merits, risky for taxpayers or could not be done. For instance, administration officials in the past had said they didn’t want to bail out speculators or people who had taken on far too much debt. Now, under certain circumstances, the administration is willing to do both.
What’s more, in recent months Obama has used his bully pulpit to discuss housing far more than earlier in his term. After rarely mentioning the nation’s housing problems for several years, the president is directly confronting the issue, which he has called the “most stubborn” of his presidency.
The new actions come after waves of criticism from Democratic groups, community activists, lawmakers and economists, who have argued that the administration was far too slow to deal with the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression.
(Related: Why demographics could depress the housing market)
By addressing housing with such force lately, Obama has been able to draw a contrast with his Republican presidential rivals, who generally have favored a hands-off approach to the foreclosure crisis. He has also been able to salve wounds in his relationship with liberals.
“They have really started to step up and recognize that economic progress is going to be much slower unless you address the housing crisis,” said John Taylor, head of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an activist group, and a frequent critic of the administration.
(Related: Why it could be a good sign if foreclosures rise in 2012)
Obama’s aides say the president has urged his staff to release the new proposals as fast as possible. This aggressive push reflects a heightened concern that weakness in the housing market, with millions of people owing more than their properties are worth, remains one of the preeminent drags on the fledging economic recovery, aides say.
They say the recent proposals represent a natural outgrowth of a policy reexamination that has been continuous throughout the president’s tenure.
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