#1 Both parties in Washington are about to screw us over on an unprecedented scale.
09-22-2008, 11:02 PM
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- Aug 2005
Why Henry Paulson must be “contained”
Both parties in Washington are about to screw us over on an unprecedented scale. They are threatening us with fiscal apocalypse if we don’t fork over $700 billion to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and allow him to dole it out to whomever he chooses in whatever amount he chooses — without public input or recourse. They are rushing like mad to cram this Mother of All Bailouts down our throats in the next 72-96 hours. And right there in the text of the proposal is this naked power grab: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
My question for fellow conservatives: Do you trust this man?
Do you trust Hank Paulson’s judgment?
Listen to what he said about the subprime crisis in April 2007:
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said…the housing market correction appears to be at or near its bottom and that troubles in the subprime mortgage market will not likely spread throughout the economy.
“We’ve clearly had a big correction in the housing market. Retail housing was growing for some time at a level that was not sustainable,” Paulson said in a speech to The Committee of 100, a business group in New York promoting better Chinese relations.
“I don’t see (subprime mortgage market troubles) imposing a serious problem. I think it’s going to be largely contained,” he added.
Listen to what he said about the subprime crisis in May 2007:
JIM LEHRER: One final question, and a third subject. How worried are you about the slump, so-called slump in the housing market in the United States right now? And what kind of damage, if any, is it doing to the economy?
HENRY PAULSON: Well, let me say this. As you’ve pointed out, we’ve had a major housing correction in the U.S. The U.S. economy had been growing at a rate that was unsustainable and, in housing, it had clearly been growing at a rate for a number of years.
That correction was inevitable; that correction has now been significant. We think it is near the bottom. It will take a while to work its way through the system. Fortunately for us, we have a very diverse, healthy economy. There are other things that are positive that are offsetting that.
…So my very strong view is that we are near the bottom and that this will be contained as — the housing will be contained, and we’re fortunate that we have a diverse, healthy economy.
Listen to what he said about the subprime crisis in August 2007 while on a trip to Beijing (more on Paulson’s ChiCom ties in a moment):
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Wednesday the repricing of credit risk was hitting financial markets, but U.S. subprime mortgage fallout remained largely contained due to the strongest global economy in decades.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, where he ran into stiff resistance in persuading Chinese officials to let the yuan strengthen more quickly, Paulson said markets were unwinding excesses in U.S. mortgage and leveraged buyout financing.
European and Asian stocks tumbled on Wednesday following a sharp drop in U.S. shares on Tuesday, after American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. said it might have to liquidate assets, fuelling worries over problems in the subprime mortgage market spilling over into other sectors.
“The market has focused on this. There’s a wake-up call, and there’s an adjustment to this repricing of risk, but I see the underlying economy as being very healthy,” he told reporters before leaving Beijing.
Paulson added that he did not see anything that caused him to reconsider his view that the economic damage from the housing correction was “largely contained,” despite losses in a number of financial institutions and a long period for subprime issues to move through the economy.
Here’s Paulson in October 2007 assuring us that he had no interest in government bailouts while touting the economy’s health again:
Paulson: Subprime help needed - but no bailout
Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is walking a fine line, pushing the need to help troubled mortgage borrowers without rewarding past risky behavior.
“I have no interest in bailing out lenders or property speculators. Still, we must recognize the very real harms to families affected by the housing downturn,” Paulson said in prepared remarks for a speech given Tuesday at Georgetown University.
…Although the speech seemed to mark a step up in activism on the part of the Treasury Department, Paulson was quick to point out the limitations of the government’s approach during the question and answer following the talk.
Referring to HopeNow, he said, “This is a 100 percent market-based solution. I believe in markets. The government is doing nothing here but facilitating people coming together.”
Paulson also downplayed the possibility that the housing crisis could plunge the nation into recession. “I’ve seen turbulence in the market a number of times and I can’t think of any situation where the backdrop of the global economy was as healthy as it is today,” he said.
09-22-2008, 11:11 PM
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- Aug 2005
'Crony' Capitalism Is Root Cause Of Fannie And Freddie Troubles
In the past couple of weeks, as the financial crisis has intensified, a new talking point has emerged from the Democrats in Congress: This is all a "crisis of capitalism," in socialist financier George Soros' phrase, and a failure to regulate our markets sufficiently.
Well, those critics may be right — it is a crisis of capitalism. A crisis of politically driven crony capitalism, to be precise.
Indeed, Democrats have so effectively mastered crony capitalism as a governing strategy that they've convinced many in the media and the public that they had nothing whatsoever to do with our current financial woes.
Barack Obama has repeatedly blasted "Bush-McCain" economic policies as the cause, as if the two were joined at the hip.
Funny, because over the past 8 years, those who tried to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the trigger for today's widespread global financial meltdown — were stymied repeatedly by congressional Democrats.
This wasn't an accident. Though some key Republicans deserve blame as well, it was a concerted Democratic effort that made reform of Fannie and Freddie impossible.
The reason for this is simple: Fannie and Freddie became massive providers both of reliable votes among grateful low-income homeowners, and of massive giving to the Democratic Party by grateful investment bankers, both at the two government-sponsored enterprises and on Wall Street.
The result: A huge taxpayer rescue that at last estimate is approaching $700 billion but may go even higher.
It all started, innocently enough, in 1994 with President Clinton's rewrite of the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act.
Ostensibly intended to help deserving minority families afford homes — a noble idea — it instead led to a reckless surge in mortgage lending that has pushed our financial system to the brink of chaos.
Fannie and Freddie, the main vehicle for Clinton's multicultural housing policy, drove the explosion of the subprime housing market by buying up literally hundreds of billions of dollars in substandard loans — funding loans that ordinarily wouldn't have been made based on such time-honored notions as putting money down, having sufficient income, and maintaining a payment record indicating creditworthiness.
With all the old rules out the window, Fannie and Freddie gobbled up the market. Using extraordinary leverage, they eventually controlled 90% of the secondary market mortgages. Their total portfolio of loans topped $5.4 trillion — half of all U.S. mortgage lending. They borrowed $1.5 trillion from U.S. capital markets with — wink, wink — an "implicit" government guarantee of the debts.
This created the problem we are having today.
As we noted a week ago, subprime lending surged from around $35 billion in 1994 to nearly $1 trillion last year — for total growth of 2,757% as of last year.
No real market grows that fast for that long without being fixed.
And that's just what Fannie and Freddie were — fixed. They became a government-run, privately owned home finance monopoly.
Fannie and Freddie became huge contributors to Congress, spending millions to influence votes. As we've noted here before, the bulk of the money went to Democrats.
Dollars To Dems
Meanwhile, Fannie and Freddie also became a kind of jobs program for out-of-work Democrats.
Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, the CEOs under whom the worst excesses took place in the late 1990s to mid-2000s, were both high-placed Democratic operatives and advisers to presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Clinton administration official Jamie Gorelick also got taken care of by the Fannie-Freddie circle. So did top Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel, among others.
On the surface, this sounds innocent. Someone has to head the highly political Fannie and Freddie, right?
But this is why crony capitalism is so dangerous. Those in power at Fannie and Freddie, as the sirens began to wail about some of their more egregious practices, began to bully those who opposed them.
That included journalists, like the Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot, and GOP congressmen, like Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, whom Fannie and Freddie actively lobbied against in his own district. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., who tried to hold hearings on Fannie's and Freddie's questionable accounting practices in 2004, found himself stripped of responsibility for their oversight by House Speaker Dennis Hastert — a Republican.
Where, you ask, were the regulators?
Congress created a weak regulator to oversee Freddie and Fannie — the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight — which had to go hat in hand each year to Capitol Hill for its budget, unlike other major regulators.
With lax oversight, Fannie and Freddie had a green light to expand their operations at breakneck speed.
09-22-2008, 11:45 PM
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- May 2008
I am having a hard time believing Paulson or any one from either party right now. I really don't think Paulson was up to this job. He seemed to run economics on a college scale, like econ 101. Are there really people out there who think Obama is going to wave Oprah's magic wand over this mess and make it right. If so, then I need to start polishing those bridges I need to sell. McCain is just as bad about jumping aboard the clean up crew bus. But my guess is that not much will be done and no CEOs will lose pay. Doesn't matter which party gets elected, it will be business as usual with the taxpayer footing the bills.Another thing is why is no one asking about Obama's association with his campaign advisor who also happens to be the jerk who was at the helm when Fannie/Freddy went bust. And to believe that this guy actually expects to get a golden parachute. Obama's got some explaining to do if the media ever calls him on this.
09-23-2008, 03:11 AM
09-23-2008, 10:01 AM
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- Aug 2005
Better not bank on Barney Frank,He brought the (fiscal) house down“
I want [Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae] to help with affordable housing, to help low-income families get loans and to help clean up this subprime mess. Otherwise, why should they exist?”
- Rep. Barney Frank, earlier this month.
The Subprime Panic of ’08 and its $1 trillion (and rising!) price tag is too big to blame on any one man. But if we had to, it would be Newton’s own Rep. Barney Frank.
As Winston Churchill might have put it, never before has one man done so much that was so wrong, or shafted so many on behalf of so few.
Entire business sections of newspapers, including this one, have been dedicated to explaining how we got into this mess, and still the typical taxpayer is asking “So what happened?”
The answer is actually quite simple: Freddie and Fannie happened. And they couldn’t have without the ferocious support of Barney Frank.
Freddie and Fannie were supposed to be safe suppliers of mortgage money for relatively low-risk loans. If you could qualify for a loan, F&F would make sure the banks had access to the money to make that loan, cheap money because it was backed by the American taxpayers.
But liberals like Barney Frank wanted more. They wanted the low cost of low-risk loans to be extended to higher-risk borrowers with lower incomes, fewer assets or less-solid credit. Barney and friends used the regulations of the Community Reinvestment Act to threaten lenders into making these loans. And banks, trying to meet Frank’s demands, expanded riskier lending schemes like subprime mortgages.
That’s when Freddie and Fannie stepped in. As Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute put it: “They fueled Wall Street’s efforts to securitize subprime loans by becoming the primary customer of all AAA-rated subprime-mortgage pools.”
Lenders asked themselves, why should I care how shaky these borrowers are or risky the loans if a government-backed body is going to buy them up anyway?
The loans were made, the housing market bubbled, contributions from F&F flowed to Democrats like Chris Dodd and Barack Obama, and everyone was happy. Until they weren’t.
Without Freddie and Fannie’s reckless expansion, the housing bubble doesn’t happen. Without the implied promise behind F&F’s money, investment banks don’t dive into the derivatives market.
Instead, we did it Barney’s way.
Not only has Frank spent his career stopping any real reform of Fannie and Freddie, he repeatedly insisted they weren’t backed by the taxpayers. “There is no federal liability whatsoever,” Frank said in 2000.
But two weeks ago, we had to bail them out with $200 billion in our tax dollars.
Alan Greenspan, John McCain and others warned that F&F were taking on too much risk, but Frank dismissed these “overblown” fears as ideological attacks against his favorite cash cow. Even after Franklin Raines and Joe Johnson were caught red-handed mismanaging these institutions, Frank still insisted “we are not facing any kind of crisis.”
Just how deep in the Fannie/Freddie tank was he? As The Wall Street Journal reports: “Mr. Frank was publicly arguing for an increase in the size of their combined $1.4 trillion portfolios right up to the day they were bailed out. Even now . . . he opposes Treasury’s planned reduction in the size of the portfolios starting in 2010.”
Our markets have collapsed, we’re paying through the nose, and Barney Frank is still fighting to keep Fannie and Freddie on the dole.
09-23-2008, 10:02 AMStand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
09-23-2008, 10:10 AMAlan Greenspan, John McCain and others warned that F&F were taking on too much risk, but Frank dismissed these “overblown” fears as ideological attacks against his favorite cash cow. Even after Franklin Raines and Joe Johnson were caught red-handed mismanaging these institutions, Frank still insisted “we are not facing any kind of crisis.”
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- May 2005
- Hartford, CT USA
09-23-2008, 12:39 PM
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- Aug 2005
The United States Senate
May 25, 2006
Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]:
Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.
The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator’s examination of the company’s accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.
For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.
I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.
I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.
Alas, thanks to the Democrat Party and the special interests of the left, both of these attempts to reform the banking system were still born.
But isn’t it funny how our watchdog media have missed these two stories?
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- May 2005
- Hartford, CT USA
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- Aug 2005
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