Biz Group Takes a Shot at Geithner in Response to Mortgage Plan

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of Washington’s biggest business lobbying groups, just released its response to the Obama administration’s $75 billion mortgage aid plan.

As you’d expect, Chamber executive vice president Bruce Josten was skeptical of the aid plan, particularly the White House’s support for letting bankruptcy judges modify the mortgage terms on primary residences (the so-called “cramdowns” bill). But Josten’s response also included what sounds like a subtle jab at the treasury secretary in his statement, quipping that the mortgage aid proposal “should have undergone a stress test to determine if it’s ready to stabilize a major portion of our economy.”

A “stress test” to determine banks’ solvency was a major component of Treasury chief Tim Geithner’s widely panned speech last week, in which he provided vague details about how the administration would refine the enforcement of the $700 billion financial bailout.

Josten’s full statement is after the jump.

The U.S. Chamber has strongly supported efforts, including the stimulus plan, to bring about economic recovery, job creation, and sustained long-term growth.

The home mortgage crisis, the financial crisis, and the broader economic crisis are inextricably linked and must be addressed in a holistic way. We will be ineffective at fixing our economy if we address these crises in a piecemeal fashion.

While the administration’s plan to stabilize the housing market is laudable, serious questions remain as to whether this strategy harms our long-term economic recovery. If risky mortgages got us into this crisis, extending those risky mortgages will only postpone the pain and hamper recovery.

Additionally, the “cramdown” plan will create hundreds of separate mortgage modification policies and will extend uncertainty in the housing market, ultimately raising interest rates.

Even though the Relief Plan has merit, it should have undergone a stress test to determine if it’s ready to stabilize a major portion of our economy.

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