On Tuesday June 29, 2010, 9:01 am EDT

For American taxpayers, now on the hook for some $145 billion in housing losses connected to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, that amount could be just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the losses could balloon to $400 billion. And if housing prices fall further, the cost to the taxpayer could hit as much as $1 trillion.

Two things are clear: Taxpayers don’t want to foot the bill, and Fannie and Freddie, taken over by the government in 2008 to stanch the financial bloodletting, need a major overhaul.

“Some of us who don’t even own homes are paying to support others and their home ownership, and they ask ‘why?’ said Robert J. Shiller, a Yale University economics professor and co-creator of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The indices measure the US residential housing market by tracking changes in the value of residential real estate both nationally and in 20 metropolitan regions.

Shiller added that the mission of Fannie and Freddie should be severely cut back “so that they’re not helping middle-class homeowners, [but] they’re helping poor people get into the housing market.”

At the crux of the financial crisis, the government took over Fannie and Freddie to avert possible massive losses for banks, money-market funds and, perhaps, most importantly, foreign institutions that purchased billions of Fannie and Freddie debt because of its implied government guarantee.

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