As police in New York routed the Occupy Wall Street encampment this morning, there are indications that some in Congress have taken notice of the movement. And that includes Alaska Senator Mark Begich. Begich is trying to block million-dollar bonuses to the executives at mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He partnered with Republican John Thune of South Dakota to write a letter last week asking that the compensation packages be downsized.
The troubled mortgage-backing firms have taken nearly $170-million in taxpayer bailouts, and are currently losing money. Begich says how the bosses are paid needs to be reexamined.
“What are the metrics they measure their bonus by? Because honestly, if you ask many people who come into our office, Alaskans and others that say they’ve been unable to get their property refinanced, their ability to get out under underwater property, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have not done their job,” Begich said.
Tuesday morning the Senate Banking Committee takes up the issue. It’s hearing from Edward DeMarco, who leads the Federal Housing Finance Agency which oversees Fannie and Freddie.
And Arizona Republican John McCain has sponsored an amendment preventing funds from going toward paying out executive bonuses while the firms are in government control. Begich is a co-sponsor.
“That amendment says look, you can’t be using taxpayer money for these bonuses, period. And I think that has great chance of passing if we get it on to the floor, that’s what our first target is,” Begich said.
The two heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are paid $900,000 a year and expect to have bonuses in the range of $2 million. Officials with the agencies say they’re getting those bonuses because of their efforts to turn the mortgage giants around.
The feds seized control of Fannie and Freddie three years ago.