The Bush administration thinks there may still be enough time this year to pass legislation to strengthen the regulatory oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.Speaking at a Heritage Foundation luncheon Oct. 22, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Wayne Abernathy said passage of a bill is still "possible" because it involves an issue "that has the attention of all the right people." The Treasury Department, said Mr. Abernathy, is holding out for a strong, independent bank-like regulator for Fannie and Freddie because it fears that anything short of that goal will result in the regulator being "captured" by the entities it regulates. Talking to reporters at a luncheon whose attendees included not just Heritage Foundation officials but White House staffer Reginald Brown, Mr. Abernathy said he "cannot think of another institution in the U.S. that has the same lobbying clout" as Fannie and Freddie, adding that the two government-sponsored enterprises have greater influence inside Washington than both General Motors and Microsoft. He said one of the key issues is whether an independent regulator can "ward off capture."

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