Four Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee urged Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Tuesday not to make mortgage modifications so narrow that they exclude borrowers worthy of help and just delay the day of reckoning for those in the program.
The Treasury Department is expected to unveil details this week of a plan in which mortgage servicers would broadly extend starter rates on nondelinquent subprime loans before their coming resets strain borrowers and threaten foreclosure.
In a letter to Mr. Paulson, the four senators, including Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., wrote that the plan should extend starter rates enough to ensure a loan's long-term affordability and mitigate costs for borrowers for whom foreclosure is inevitable even with a modification.
The plan should not squeeze deserving borrowers out of the planned modifications with overly demanding eligibility requirements, the senators wrote. "It would be a sad irony if this attempt to correct the damage done by poor underwriting standards that extended too much credit to too many borrowers was undone by criteria that made loan modifications and workouts available to too few borrowers now."
In addition to Sen. Dodd, the letter was signed by Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. The senators also urged Mr. Paulson to put forward a plan that would waive prepayment penalties and would be transparent enough to allow independent monitoring.