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However, the bargainers would not increase the current $625,500 limit on mortgages that can be backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage giants, and by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Housing industry officials said the FHA language would help the limp housing market. Conservatives opposed it, saying the government should reduce its involvement in housing.


Romney criticizes Obama comments to CEOs

COLUMBIA — White House hopeful Mitt Romney is criticizing President Obama for saying the United States had grown “a little bit lazy” in trying to attract business to the U.S.

The Republican presidential candidate spoke Tuesday at a sign-making factory in Columbia.

Mr. Obama made the comments over the weekend to a group of chief executives gathered for a regional economic summit in Hawaii.

Mr. Romney has been emphasizing the economy and jobs as he tries to boost his presidential campaign. He has been in something of a rut, sharing front-runner status for months with Republicans Herman Cain and Rick Perry.


Administration opposes balanced budget amendment

The Obama administration said it strongly opposes a balanced-budget amendment heading for a House vote this week, saying it could result in job losses and severe cuts to essential programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

The White House, in a prepared statement, said a balanced budget amendment would force the government to raise taxes and cut spending during economic downturns, thus accelerating job losses.

The House is to vote by the end of the week on a proposed constitutional amendment barring Congress from spending more than it receives in revenue. The vote is expected to be close in the House, but faces tougher sledding in the Senate. Amendments must be approved by two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate and be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures.

From wire dispatches and staff reports