Anatomy of a ‘responsible’ homeowner

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Are you a "responsible" homeowner? The question may seem odd or silly, but if you meet the definition, the federal government wants to help you refinance your mortgage. The phrase "responsible homeowner," which is already in danger of becoming hackneyed, surfaced last year and was picked up by President Obama who declared, "We must … do everything we can to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes." But the question must be asked: Who is a "responsible" homeowner? The federal government's new Making Home Affordable program seems to define a "responsible" homeowner as one who is creditworthy and has shown a commitment to making his or her mortgage payments. Homeowners who meet those guidelines, and have a mortgage that's owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, will be allowed to borrow up to 105 percent of their home's current value with the government's blessing. But shouldn't "responsible" homeownersh...