WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday said congressional Republicans are keeping a proposal to help homeowners refinance mortgages from "even coming to a vote."
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said the housing market is recovering -- with construction starts on new homes at a four-year high, home sales increasing, property values rising and foreclosure rates "at their lowest point in the five years since the housing bubble burst and left millions of responsible families holding the bag."
Obama acknowledged "too many homes are still underwater," but he said "one of the heaviest drags on our recovery is getting lighter. Now we have to build on the progress we've made, and keep moving forward."
The president said his policies have helped millions of families keep their homes and his administration has worked with state attorneys general to "crack down" on banking practices that contributed to the housing meltdown, resulting in a $25 billion settlement that is being used to help homeowners take advantage of low interest rates and get out from under high-interest loans.
"And now I want every homeowner in America to have that chance," he said. "I just wish it didn't require an act of Congress."
Obama said he sent Congress a plan in February intended to "give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low rates."
"It has the support of independent, non-partisan economists and leaders across the housing industry," the president said. "It's a no-brainer that should have passed easily.
"But Republicans in Congress banded together and kept this plan from even coming to a vote."
The president urged listeners to contact their congressional representatives and "tell them that it's time for Congress to stop standing in the way of our recovery and to start standing up for you."