WASHINGTON – Fannie Mae said Thursday that it would make a $59.4 billion payment to taxpayers based on its growing financial strength, a move that budget forecasters say will most likely push back the deadline to raise the federal debt limit until at least Oct. 1.
With the housing market undergoing an increasingly robust recovery, the government-owned mortgage giant is expected to continue to pay billions of dollars to taxpayers every quarter. Its sibling company, Freddie Mac, which is also taxpayer-owned, announced Wednesday that it would be paying taxpayers $7 billion by the end of next month and that it may pay them an additional $30 billion this summer.
The windfalls are a legacy of the George W. Bush administration’s decision in 2008 to bail out the two firms, whose potential collapse threatened the global economy, and the current government’s decision to continue to support the companies. As part of the agreements governing the bailout, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must pay most of their profits to taxpayers in the form of a dividend.