COMMENTS: Frozen not Bailed Out

All three networks assigned a reporter to cover the Treasury Department's plan for the FDIC to prevent the current dislocation in the housing market from escalating into a full-fledged crisis. Already 1.6m mortgages are either in arrears or in foreclosure; another 1.5m homeowners, CBS' Anthony Mason estimated, face increases in their housing costs by the end of 2008 as interest rates are adjusted upwards. On NBC, CNBC's Erin Burnett calculated a typical hike at 26%, from around $1,000 each month to $1,260 or so. The plan would coordinate big lenders-- Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, Countrywide Financial--to foreswear those hikes, freezing interest rates indefinitely at the low starter rates. CBS' Mason called such a plan "the most significant federal intervention in a credit crisis since the Depression" while ABC's Betsy Stark (no link) quoted Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as insisting "this is not a bailout--no government money is changing hands." Clearly work still needs to be done. CNBC's Burnett was confident that the details will be ironed out: "The three hardest hit states on foreclosures are key election states--we are talking about Ohio, Florida and California."


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