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Trump: “Many geniuses” are working to end government control of Fannie and Freddie

Tells NAR audience administration will work closely with Congress to pass critical reforms

President Donald Trump spoke about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for two minutes near the end of a one-hour speech at the National Association of Realtors convention in Washington on Friday. For HousingWire’s story on Trump’s speech, click here. To read the president’s complete and unedited comments on housing-finance reform, see below. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are guarantors of about $5 trillion in U.S. home mortgages. 

Trump cites “Ben” in his comments, a reference to Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who was in the audience. Here are the president's remarks:

My administration is also committed to reforming our housing finance system – so important. More than a decade after the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still in conservatorship. Fannie and Freddie still dominate the market with no real competition from the private sector and the taxpayers are still on the hook if another crisis should happen, and this is a pretty urgent problem. We’re doing well with it now, it’s well-managed now, we have great people, but it’s a pretty big problem and it’s really a problem that other-than-government should be doing. 

So we’re looking at different alternatives. We have many geniuses looking at it and we’ll figure something out. But Fannie and Freddie can do a lot better than they’re doing, although now they have some very good people running it. And that’s why I recently directed the Department of Treasury and HUD  Ben  to develop a framework for a modern housing finance system. You working on that Ben? I know you have some incredible talent from Wall Street coming in. 

We actually called on very smart people. Someone said, "Why are you using Wall Street?" I said, "Because I want to get very smart people. I want to get people to do this." And one that welcomes the private sector, competition, protects taxpayers and preserves homeownership for future generations to come. 

So we will be working closely with Congress to pass these critical reforms and we will consider taking other administrative actions to modernize our housing programs and to ensure more affordable housing, to get rid of ridiculous regulations so you can build and build quickly and build beautifully. Actually, you’ll put more money into the house because instead of spending on ridiculous paperwork, you’ll be able to buy better lumber and better flooring and better windows.

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