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Originally published Friday, December 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Analysis

Stumping to fix housing

The candidates vying to occupy the most powerful house in Washington, D. C., have plans for keeping more Americans from losing theirs. President Bush's deal to...

The candidates vying to occupy the most powerful house in Washington, D.C., have plans for keeping more Americans from losing theirs.

President Bush's deal to freeze rates on certain mortgages for five years is aimed at fixing a crisis that will affect the economy and investors well beyond 2009, when a new president takes office.

"There's enormous pressure on both Democrats and Republicans to show that they're aware of the problem and that they're trying to fix it," says Jaret Seiberg, policy analyst with Stanford Group.

Democrats have been more focused on housing than Republicans, as many risky loans were made in traditionally Democratic minority and low-income areas.

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards said Bush's mortgage plan should be expanded to more at-risk homeowners.

Edwards proposed a seven-year freeze. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in September called for federal aid for homeowners facing foreclosure and reforms of the mortgage industry.

Among Republicans, Mitt Romney said in an October interview with CNBC: "We've got to go back and help refinance those loans so we don't have the glut of housing drop onto the market."

Arizona Sen. John McCain favors stricter lending standards and better licensing in the industry, an adviser says. Rudy Giuliani told CNBC in March that Congress "should stay out of it," arguing that housing will self-correct, a position he still holds, a spokeswoman says.

Other proposals from Democrats mirror provisions in bills moving through Congress:

• Counseling to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

• Eliminating penalties for paying off mortgages early.

• Allowing bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgages.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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