If you thought that we had a handle on the costs for bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, think again. The controlling authority for the two GSEs announced yesterday that the total cost for the bailout could rise as high as $363 billion, more than double what had earlier been projected for the taxpayer bill. NBC and the AP reported on the stunning update yesterday:

Rescuing mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could cost as taxpayers as much as $363 billion over the next three years, more than double the current amount, a federal regulator said Thursday.

The two companies could end up costing taxpayers $221 billion to $363 billion through 2013, the Federal Housing Finance Agency projected. The actual amount will depend on whether home prices stabilize or take another dive, the agency said. …

When the government stepped in to take them over in September 2008, the rescue was only expected to cost a combined $200 billion. Fannie and Freddie have already received $148 billion from the government.

It’s the first time the agency has released a public estimate of the taxpayer tab. The combined bailout of the two companies is on track to be the largest of the financial crisis.

In contrast, the government propped up AIG to the tune of $150 billion, much of which got used as a way to funnel money to banks and other financial institutions to keep them solvent. AIG, however, is expected to come out of taxpayer receivership in the future, perhaps the near future. Congress has yet to do anything to distance taxpayers from Fannie and Freddie. They refused to even address the issue in the Wall Street regulation bill passed this summer, promising to find a solution at some unknown point in the future.

Now we can see that this will be a continued drain on taxpayer resources for years to come. The Obama administration admitted as much when it removed the $400 billion cap on the Fannie/Freddie bailout. And perhaps those in charge in Washington don’t want to see an end to the relationship with the two GSEs. After all, they make convenient tools for social engineering, and if they wait long enough, the American people might suffer a massive bout of amnesia and allow Congress to use them for those purposes again.

Currently, I’m reading the book You Know I’m Right: More Prosperity, Less Government by CNBC host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. It covers a wide range of politics with a center-right, fiscal conservative approach, some of which won’t please conservatives. However, her assessment of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac debacle and its history is a must read, one of the best and most concise analyses I’ve yet read. Caruso-Cabrera predicted that the true costs of the Fannie/Freddie bailout would be much higher than anyone predicted and outlines how to rid taxpayers of these albatrosses — and the absolute need to do so.

Tags: Barack Obama