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Why Geithner's Treasury Leadership Proved Divisive

Under Geithner, Treasury compiled a mixed record of helping homeowners at risk. Of $50 billion in TARP money earmarked to reduce foreclosures, only $6 billion has been tapped. As of November, 1.1 million homeowners have received permanent loan modifications through the administration's main foreclosure-prevention program. An additional 1.5 million have been helped by the Federal Housing Administration.

The administration's initial program to ease mortgage payments for the most troubled homeowners became a source of derision. Homeowners called it a bureaucratic mess. Treasury officials countered that the administration had inherited a foreclosure crisis for which it had to devise solutions on the fly.

Critics say Geithner should have taken a harder line in forcing mortgage servicers to modify home loans. They also say he should have pushed hard to let struggling homeowners reduce their loan principal.

But Geithner's supporters say he had to deal with congressional Republicans who felt the government shouldn't be helping people escape their debts.

â¿¿ FINANCIAL REGULATION

In 2010, Congress passed what the Obama administration hailed as the stiffest restrictions on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression. The legislation, named for Sen. Christopher Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank, both Democrats, contained proposals crafted by Geithner.

It authorized the government to break up companies considered a risk to the financial system. It created an agency to safeguard consumers. And it aimed to tighten scrutiny of complex financial instruments that had previously escaped regulatory oversight and had fueled the crisis.

Geithner said the bill would reduce the risk of another crisis. But critics saw the legislation as flawed. Republicans said it created obstacles to the smooth operation of financial markets. And liberals said Geithner didn't go far enough to try to curb the worst abuses. They complained that he caved to pressure from banks to weaken the reforms.

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