WASHINGTON -- Paying for part of the S & L cleanup could leave the new thrift insurance fund effectively broke, the nation's top savings and loan regulator said in a letter to Congress on Wednesday.

"Thrifts, like banks, can and_should be required to capitalize their own insurance fund without taxpayer assistance," wrote Jonathan L. Fiechter, acting director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, in letters to the House and Senate banking committee chairmen and minority leaders. "The current financing structure makes achieving that goal unlikely."

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