A September 11, 2003 New York Times article shows that President Bush proposed “the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.” His proposal: An agency within the Treasury Department to supervise mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Fearing that mortgages would no longer be available to people who were unable to pay them back, Democrats eventually killed the proposal. The current meltdown in the mortgage industry is a direct result of giving mortgages to people who could not pay them back, a practice protected by Congressional Democrats.
Both entities were recently taken over by the government, a move that puts trillions of taxpayer dollars at risk.
Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.
The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.
The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt — is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.
But Democrats in Congress, also known as “the caucus perpetually on the wrong side of history,” were having none of this “responsibility” stuff.
”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”
Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.
”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,” Mr. Watt said.
The proposal worked its way around Congress for a couple of years. Efforts at reform of the kind proposed by President Bush were shot down by Democrats each time.
In 2005, Republican Mike Oxley, then chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, brought up a reform bill (H.R. 1461), and Fannie and Freddie’s lobbyists set out to weaken it.
During this period, Sen. Richard Shelby led a small group of legislators favoring reform, including fellow Republican Sens. John Sununu, Chuck Hagel and Elizabeth Dole. Meanwhile, [Democrat in bed with the mortgage industry Chris] Dodd — who along with Democratic Sens. John Kerry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the top four recipients of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions from 1988 to 2008 — actively opposed such measures and further weakened existing regulation.
According to OpenSecrets.org, between 1988 and 2008 Dodd received $133,900, Kerry $111,000, Clinton $75,550, and Obama — in only 143 days in the Senate — received a whopping $105,849 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Pennsylvania Democrat representative Paul Kanjorksi, who also opposed new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulations, was given more than any other member of the House of Representatives. He was paid $65,500 by representatives of these entities.
And, in case you were wondering, John McCain co-sponsored a bill requiring greater Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac regulation in 2005. It was also blocked procedurally by Democrats.
The 2003 New York Times article was unearthed by a Free Republic poster.
UPDATE: 2004 video posted to YouTube shows Republicans arguing for, and Democrats arguing against, regulations that would have saved us from the current crisis.
Even former President Clinton knows where to place the blame for the mortgage crisis.
UPDATE: Democrat Congressman Artur Davis admits Democrats dropped the ball on the mortgage crisis.