Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he is hopeful that the steps the Bush administration is taking will help identify mortgage holders who might have problems down the line, and offer assistance to those with adjustable interest rates that are about to go up.
Paulson tells Robert Siegel that the Treasury Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development will work with mortgage companies, financial counseling groups and other nonprofits to determine at-risk borrowers and contact them in advance to offer help refinancing.
The government can't make the problems go away, Paulson says, but it can make a big effort to help those who are capable of owning a home refinance their loans.
"I don't think it's my job or the government's job to tell anybody how much money they can borrow [or] what asset they should borrow against. People will, from time to time, make mistakes.
"We can't protect everyone against losses. But homeownership is very, very important in this country, and the vast majority of people in this country have a big part of their net worth tied up in their homes," Paulson says.
When asked how many people it's expected will benefit from the new proposals, Paulson says he doesn't want to "overpromise and underdeliver."
"We can't keep everyone in their home. We sure as heck can make a big effort to help those who have the capability to own a home refinance, and what we're going to do is make a effort," Paulson says. "And to me, success is helping as many people as possible."