SETBACKS

White House's Mortgage Mess

Looking for a New Year's resolution, Mr. President? A number of critics say adopting a new foreclosure prevention policy might be a good start. The administration's $75 billion program is designed to keep homeowners from foreclosure, but some experts say that by lowering mortgage payments on a trial basis for its participants, it may have made things worse for some by only temporarily making their loans sustainable and raising false hopes. “I don’t think there’s any way for Treasury to tweak their plan, or to cajole, pressure or entice servicers to do more to address the crisis,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, told The New York Times. “For some folks, it is doing more harm than good, because ultimately, at the end of the day, they are going back into the foreclosure morass.” The Treasury Department counters that its program "is meeting its intended goal of providing immediate relief to homeowners across the country." More than two million homes were lost to foreclosure or related sales this year, according to Moody's Economy.com, and the site expects the number to reach 2.4 million in 2010.