WASHINGTON – Like many members of Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann has been a fierce critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, blaming the government-backed loan programs for excesses that helped create the financial meltdown in 2008.

And like millions of other home purchasers, Bachmann took out a home loan in 2008 that offered lower costs to the borrower through one of the federally subsidized programs, according to mortgage experts who reviewed her loan documents.

Just a few weeks before Bachmann called for dismantling the programs during a House Financial Services Committee hearing, she and her husband signed for a $417,000 home loan to help finance their move to a 5,200-square-foot golf course home, public records show.

Experts who examined the loan documents for The Washington Post say they are confident that the loan was backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Seeing problems with the programs – especially the high costs to taxpayers – hasn’t stopped a concerned public or other members of Congress from taking advantage of the lower interest rates that come due to government backing.

Among Republican presidential candidates, Bachmann has been the most outspoken critic of the loan programs and other government subsidies.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty also has called for dismantling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Experts who reviewed his mortgage documents said there is no way to tell whether his home loan from 1994 had government backing.

Bachmann’s mortgage loan was part of a package of debt that she and her husband, Marcus, assumed to buy their home, public records show.

They also have other loans, including a home equity line of credit, a business mortgage and another business loan for their Christian counseling clinics, bringing their liabilities to more than $1 million, according to the most recently available public records.

The Bachmanns’ assets, according to her latest financial disclosure statement, range between $862,018 and $2 million.

Their total income has not been disclosed.

Bachmann earns $174,000 as a member of Congress. There is no evidence that they cannot support their current debt.

In her public life, Bachmann has criticized government subsidies and said that federally backed home lending programs place an undue burden on taxpayers.

She is also a leading critic of expanding the federal debt limit. “When managing your family budget, you don’t spend money you don’t have,” she said in a statement last year, “and our government should be no different.”

The couple’s personal finances have come under recent scrutiny with disclosures that they and family members have accepted subsidies for both a family farm and for Bachmann & Associates counseling clinics.

Bachmann’s campaign declined to comment on her loans.