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Watchdog doubts goals of Obama loan relief plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - A government watchdog says the Obama administration's effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure may not achieve its goal of helping up to 4 million borrowers and may not be enough to dampen the impact of the foreclosure crisis on the economy.

The Congressional Oversight Panel report says the program is aimed at the crisis "as it existed six months ago," but the problem has now moved beyond homeowners who took out risky mortgages in the subprime market. It says unemployment has raised the threat of foreclosure for a growing number of families with conventional, fixed-rate mortgages who put down 10 to 20 percent on their homes.

The report concludes that the Treasury Department should consider either improving the current $50 billion program or adopting new programs to meet an expected rise in foreclosures.

The oversight panel accepted the report by a 3-2 vote. One of the two Republican members voting against it, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, says the foreclosure mitigation program is a failure and shouldn't be expanded.

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