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This Week in Washington

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In the ongoing fight to rebuild our economy, many families face a struggle just to stay in their homes. The current housing and mortgage crises are placing a strain on working families and a drain on our economy. A record 2.9 million homeowners received foreclosure notices in 2010, and that number is expected to rise by more than 20 percent in 2011. I've worked to help ensure that our families, including countless seniors and military families, do not unfairly fall victim to this housing crisis. We must hold big banks and lending institutions accountable and there is no time more important than now to make sure that we do all we can to keep families in their homes.

This week, debate centered on proposals to end two programs designed to assist American citizens get through the housing crisis, a crisis unlike any faced by our nation before. The debate to terminate the FHA Refinance Program and the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program shed light on efforts that can be made to crack down on the unfair mortgage practices we've seen lately. These two specific programs were implemented to do just that, but due to the bureaucracy and red tape that litters our federal government, enactment was delayed, leaving relief for millions of families in the balance as they waited for proper implementation to take place. In light of these delays, the intended scope of the programs was limited to a small handful of families seeking relief.

Completely terminating these two programs is a drastic step that simply forces taxpayers to again foot the bill for our government's shortcomings. These, or any initiative failing in any regard, must be reformed. However, completely abandoning these programs is throwing the baby out with the bath water. A complete end to both will not solve, or even begin to address, ending the very problems that these families face in the first place. For too long, taxpayers have been left on the hook for money our government spends, and it's about time we start making sure these programs work as they were intended, completing the important task at hand. Keeping our families in their homes is not only the right thing to do, it's vital to our economic stability, and I'll continue to fight to do just that for my constituents.

Big banks and predatory lending institutions that have not played by the rules should not have a say over whether or not an American family stays in their home. We are a nation built on personal responsibility. I believe that the most important thing we can do in situations like these is to preserve the rights of our homeowners, get them paying their mortgage again and prevent foreclosure and bankruptcy. When done correctly, these two programs will help to do just that. I will work to make sure that the proper reforms are set in place to ensure success of these mortgage relief and refinance programs. We all have to remember that foreclosures affect us all and we have to prevent them to protect the property values of all homes and our real estate market.

The fact that these mortgage programs haven't been used to their full potential is another reminder of how inefficient government has become. As a result of government reform measures I supported last year, we are beginning to be able to identify inefficiency, waste, fraud and abuse within our federal programs. Last week brought the release of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to identify such duplication and waste in government programs, and the resulting 345 pages of findings were startling. According to the report, serious changes to more than 34 overlapping and duplicate programs could save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and help make our government more efficient. An additional 47 areas were identified as potential opportunities to reduce costs, via agency or Congressional action, and I'm ready to begin taking those steps. Our nation faces a $14 trillion dollar debt that not only endangers our economic livelihood; it poses a serious threat to our national security.

Now that the GAO has worked to identify these areas, Congress must take action to end these instances of redundancy and waste, and I'm ready to get started. I've urged my colleagues to join me in taking a bipartisan approach to common sense spending cuts in a realistic and careful way. There is much work left to be done to bring an immediate end to the many instances of waste in Washington--and the people deserve it.

Simply put, our American taxpayers do not deserve to be sending their hard-earned dollars to Washington for such terrible service. I'll continue to work to end the mismanagement and failed spending of your tax dollars in Washington, and fight to make sure that every dollar that can be saved remains right in your pocket--where it belongs.


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