BAILOUTS

Mortgage Giants Get Unlimited Govt Backing

In a move that allows the White House to provide emergency aid without going through Congress, the Obama administration said Thursday that it would provide unlimited financial assistance to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The companies were taken over by the Bush administration last year as they teetered on bankruptcy, one of the key events en route to the financial meltdown in September. Under the latest decision, the administration's commitment will expire in 2012, at the end of Obama's term. The two mortgage giants have already received $111 billion combined in federal assistance and the White House's decision to commit further aid frees up as much as $200 billion more apiece if needed, although the aid is not expected to be used in such quantities. The administration's support comes at a time when federal regulators have given Fannie and Freddie permission to give their top 12 executives $42 million in what the Washington Post describes as "Wall Street-style compensation packages." In a statement, the Treasury Department said the move "should leave no uncertainty about the Treasury's commitment to support these firms as they continue to play a vital role in the housing market during this current crisis."