From his perch as acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, DeMarco oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-owned mortgage behemoths that collectively control about half of all home loans in the land. What he does shapes both the national housing market and the ability of troubled borrowers to hang on to their homes. What he has been been doing lately has been so unhelpful that Democratic lawmakers and grassroots advocacy groups are properly demanding his ouster.
DeMarco steadfastly refuses to allow Fannie and Freddie to help distressed homeowners by writing off principal balances on their mortgages. This has ensured that tens of millions of borrowers remain "underwater," meaning they owe the banks more than their homes are worth -- a status that has an alarming tendency to portend foreclosure. His refusal is based on logic that is both elegantly simple and tragically flawed: He is responsible for cleaning up the books at Fannie and Freddie, so he is against spending money.