James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
A new U.S. plan to aid underwater homeowners once again tries to treat a debt-inflicted wound with a cash flow Band-Aid.
Under changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) the Obama administration will shortly allow current borrowers whose home loans are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance to lower rates, even if they owe more than 125 percent of what their house is worth.
HARP covers borrowers who are not behind in their payments but who would otherwise be unable to refinance into a lower mortgage interest rate.
The program might possibly help the housing market and economy, and definitely will help banks, but it will very likely do so at the expense of the poor saps who decide to stick with their impossibly underwater loans and the houses that go with them.
Seeing as how many of these borrowers could walk away from the loans without putting their other assets at risk, HARP really is an unforgivable instance of using people as a means to accomplishing other goals rather than as ends unto themselves.