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Editorial: Pass refinancing proposal

House Republicans in Washington should drop their opposition to a plan that would make it easier for homeowners to refinance mortgages because the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

President Barack Obama in his State of the Union Address challenged Congress to pass and send him the refinancing bill. But Republicans blocked it in the last session of Congress and it doesn't appear they have changed their mind in this session of Congress.

Under the bill, homeowners whose mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be able to get their homes refinanced easier. Many homeowners still owe too much on their residences and can't get refinanced at today's lower rates, even if they have never missed a payment. The bill would change that, and would also cut some of the up-front fees that borrowers have to pay to refinance.

According to the Associated Press, about 12 million homeowners could benefit from the proposal, which should be attractive to Republicans because it isn't a high cost program or bailout and, instead, provides a way to lower people's payments, increase their disposal income and, presumably, help pump more money back into the economy.

Some Republicans, however, don't think the government should be in the home financing business at all. They place the blame for the housing crisis at the feet of the popular government programs, and say the government should be getting out of the business, not doing more to encourage it.

The role of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae is a legitimate question that deserves debate, but whether to provide help to existing mortgage holders in those programs is a separate question entirely.

The measure, according to the Associated Press, is backed by the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders, among others.

John Hudson, government affairs chairman of the Association of Mortgage Professionals, told the Associated Press the bill "is another tool that can be out there to help stabilize the housing market and kick start the economy if consumers can, in fact, put another $100 bucks in their pockets every month."

That's something that Republicans should be championing, not stonewalling.

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