For folks who have homes underwater,
As Lender-in-Chief, I
Will back ev'ry refi
Allowed by executive order."
With an eye toward the 2012 election, President Obama has evidently decided that half measures taken on one's own are better than whole measures frustrated by House Republicans. Thus, the Administration announced with great fanfare a loosening of restrictions on its HARP (Home Affordable Refinance Program), which would actually benefit only one out of eleven underwater homeowners. For those mortgagors with loans taken out before May 2009 and guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the new HARP will allow a refi at any loan-to-value ratio, doing away with the former 125% limit. Indications are however that only about a million homeowners qualify for this "expanded" program, and it does not appear that the pace of refinancing will pick up, so the most telling impact of the new HARP may be on the campaign trail, when the President runs against the "do-nothing Congress."