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Paulson: Some housing proposals will do more harm than good

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Thursday that various proposals being put forward to deal with the housing slump would do more harm than good.

While he said that while the housing problem remains the biggest downside risk to the economy, the issue needed to be put in perspective. Paulson said that 93 percent of all mortgages are being paid on time and that less than 2 percent are in foreclosure.

"So while some in Washington are proposing big interventions, most of the proposals I've seen would do more harm than good," the secretary said in remarks prepared for delivery Thursday night before the Economic Club of Chicago.

"I'm not interested in bailing out investors, lenders and speculators," he said. "I'm focused on solutions targeted at struggling homeowners who want to keep their homes."

Paulson's comments represented the strongest administration objection lodged so far to a variety of proposals being pushed by Democrats in Congress to do more to help. Paulson said that dealing with the mortgage problems needs to be a shared responsibility.

"If borrowers aren't willing to ask for help or respond to efforts to reach them," he said, "there is only so much that others can or should do on their behalf."