By Margaret Chadbourn
WASHINGTON, March 10 U.S. government-owned
mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
could send about $179.2 billion in profits to
taxpayers over the next 10 years if the terms of their bailout
remain intact, the White House budget office said on Monday.
The amount is more than triple the estimated 10-year
payments calculated last year in the White House budget
proposal, driven by the companies' increased profitability.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have operated under federal
conservatorship since 2008, when regulators agreed to inject
capital into the companies to keep them afloat.
They received $187.5 billion in taxpayer funds, but they
have returned to profitability and by the end of March they will
have had paid $202.9 billion in dividends to the U.S. Treasury.
No one expected them to become profitable again so quickly,
but when home prices surged in 2012, they were able to recover
more money than expected on soured loans.
The profit projections come in an addendum to President
Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget proposal. In a budget proposal
last year, the administration estimated that Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac would send the Treasury $51 billion through 2023.
Under a 2012 revamp of their bailout terms, Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac send a majority of their profits to the Treasury as
dividends, and they are unable to repurchase the controlling
share the government took when it bailed them out. Previously,
they were required to pay only a 10 percent dividend on their
bailout funds in profitable quarters.
Shareholders, including Perry Capital and Fairholme Capital
Management, have sued the United States over the changes. They
argue that since the companies are returning profits to
taxpayers, the government's stake should shrink.
Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Obama
administration want to wind down and replace Fannie Mae and