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President Barack Obama will call for Fannie

Mae and Freddie Mac (FMCC) to be replaced with a government mortgage reinsurer that would sustain losses only in catastrophic circumstances.

The president, in a speech today in Phoenix, will also renew calls for Congress to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their loans, according to administration officials.

The president until now has refrained from endorsing a particular approach to remaking the nation’s housing finance system, seeking to avoid a partisan battle. Today he will outline basic principles that mirror those in a Senate bill backed by both Democrats and Republicans.