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The shareholders would be delighted should Fannie and Freddie be kept alive as quasi-government entities whose shareholders enjoy profits in good economic times while the government bears their worst losses in times of crisis.

“Why is there a need to dismantle and destroy, when you can overhaul?” asked David Sims, one of the investors in the distressed equities.

Many homeowners also seem happy with the status quo, which has provided record-low mortgage rates for those with good enough credit ratings to obtain loans since the crisis. Analysts say 30-year fixed rates in the 3 percent to 4 percent range were made possible by the government guarantee of payment to investors provided through Fannie and Freddie and by massive mortgage bond-buying by the Federal Reserve in recent years that drove long-term rates to historic lows.

Rates likely would go higher under the Senate bill, as investors seek to compensate for the increased likelihood that they would sustain losses from defaults, and 30-year rates could double, triple or even disappear under the House bill. Financial analysts say investors likely would be unwilling to offer long-term loans at all to the large swath of subprime American borrowers whose probability of going into default rose as high as 50 percent during the housing crisis.

Among those who are questioning the proposed abolition of Fannie and Freddie is consumer advocate Ralph Nader. In a letter to Mr. Johnson this month, he signaled that some liberals may be willing to join forces with shareholders to keep the enterprises alive.

Mr. Nader argued that Fannie and Freddie are still “functioning and experienced” at keeping the mortgage market running smoothly. Eliminating them would only invite Wall Street investment banks to re-enter the market and repeat the abuses that led to the 2008 crisis, he said.

Liberals, shareholders unite

“To eliminate them and unravel this intricate market further, could open the door wide for runaway corporate exploitation,” Mr. Nader said. “We don’t argue that the [government-sponsored enterprises] should be maintained as is; but instead that they should be strongly regulated to prevent their previous missteps and abuses.”

He added that “shareholders should be allowed to participate in any future recovery.”

Raising another concern of liberals, Mr. Nader said the Senate bill — which offers banks incentives to make loans to blacks and Hispanics but does not require them to do so — “does not advance adequate support for affordable and low-income housing for underserved communities.” That’s a grievance that liberals in Congress and civil rights groups are increasingly voicing in hopes of forcing changes in the legislation.

Home loans have been tough to get for most Americans since the crisis, as banks severely tightened lending standards and caused millions of consumers to go into default and lose their good credit ratings. The dearth of credit has been especially harsh for minority communities hit disproportionately by foreclosures.

Only 131,000 black families obtained mortgages in 2012, compared with nearly 600,000 in 2005 before the crisis, according to the Urban Institute Center for Housing Finance Policy. The share of black borrowers dropped from 8 percent to 4.8 percent over the overall market in that time, and Hispanic borrowers dropped from 13.3 percent of purchases to 8.6 percent. That drove the white share of the market from 65 percent to 71.2 percent.

In the House, conservatives are getting increasingly alarmed about talk of sticking with the status quo or spicing up the legislation with another round of mandates to provide loans to underserved communities.

The House committee bill that would get the government out of the mortgage business altogether, by contrast, has languished for nine months without action in the full House.

Conservative groups have formed a Coalition for Mortgage Security to push for the House bill and fight the Senate legislation. The group is headed by Ken Blackwell, a former mayor of Cincinnati and an undersecretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Jack Kemp. The group aims to “protect taxpayers, investors, and property rights,” though by targeting the Senate bill, it also would undermine any hope for compromise legislation that could be signed by President Obama this year.

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