By Vicki Needham - 09/29/12 10:00 AM EDT
President Obama urged Congress on Saturday to pass a refinancing bill to provide a boost to the gradually recovering housing market.
"Millions of Americans who did the right and responsible thing — who shopped for a home, secured a mortgage they could afford, and made their payments on time — were badly hurt by the irresponsible actions of others," Obama said.
"The truth is, it’s going to take a while for our housing market to fully recover," he said.
"But it’s going to take a lot more time – and cause a lot more hurt – if Congress keeps standing in the way."
Even though the Obama administration has taken steps to help hundreds of thousands of homeowners refinance their mortgages, more action is needed to not only help the housing sector but the bolster the overall economy.
"But we need Congress’s help to do more," he said.
Obama touted the plan he sent Congress in February that would save homeowners about $3,000 a year on their mortgages. The plan includes other "aggressive steps" to help the ailing housing sector, including providing homeowners with a chance to refinance into lower-interest-rate mortgages.
"It’s a plan that has the support of independent, nonpartisan economists and leaders across the housing industry," he said.
"But Republicans in Congress worked to keep it from even getting to a vote. And here we are — seven months later — still waiting on Congress to act.
"This makes no sense." he said.
The president backs legislation, similar to his idea, proposed by Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.) that would streamline refinancing for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers, and, as they argue, help millions of homeowners and accelerate the economic recovery.
"When folks are spending less on mortgage payments, they’re spending more at local businesses," Obama said.
"And when those businesses have more customers, they start hiring more workers."
The Senate intends to take up the measure first thing on their return in November.
Obama also highlighted a $25 billion settlement reached between the nation's largest banks and state attorneys general over improper foreclosure practices.
The housing market was brought down by "lenders who sold loans to families who couldn’t afford them and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them," Obama said. He added that speculators “looking to make a quick buck” and “banks that packaged and sold those risky mortgages for phony profits" also hurt the industry.