(CNSNews.com) – The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the real cost of the federal government guaranteeing the business of failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is $317 billion -- not the $130 billion normally claimed by the Obama administration.
In a report delivered to the House Budget Committee on June 2, the CBO said a “fair value” accounting of guaranteeing the two defunct mortgage companies – known as Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) – was more than twice as high as the Office of Management and Budget had accounted for.
“Specifically, CBO treats the mortgages guaranteed each year by the two GSEs as new guarantee obligations of the federal government,” the CBO report said. “For those guarantees, CBO’s projections of budget outlays equal the estimated federal subsidies inherent in the commitments at the time they are made.”
“In contrast, the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget continues to treat Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as nongovernmental entities for budgetary purposes, and thus outside the budget,” the report stated. “It records as outlays the amount of the net cash payments provided by the Treasury to the GSEs.”
The total of those cash payments is $130 billion, and is normally reported as the cost of the bailout of the GSEs to date. However, the CBO said that merely counting the cash payments, and not the cost of federal subsidies granted to the GSEs, obscures their real costs.
Essentially, the CBO is accounting for the cost of the federal government guaranteeing the loans bought and securitized by the GSEs.
Currently, Fannie and Freddie rely on explicit federal guarantees to continue to secure below-market financing rates. Because Fannie and Freddie are insolvent, the federal government must make up their losses when the loans they have guaranteed lose money in default.
However, the CBO counts not only the amount of federal funds spent to keep the GSEs operating but the cost to the federal government to subsidize the mortgage guarantees issued by Fannie and Freddie. In other words, the CBO counts as a federal spending commitment the subsidy given by the government to the GSEs.
True Cost of Fannie, Freddie Bailouts: $317 Billion, CBO Says | CNSnews.com