I was hoping that after taking two days away from the news because of the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashana, the political situation in this country would somehow be different. But to my horror when I turned on my computer tonight after two days away, nothing changed, and the worst part of if, Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer were STILL Jewish. And the Democrats were still trying to blame the entire banking mess on President Bush and the Republican party. Problem is they are wrong, while President Bush and John McCain were trying to straighten out the Freddie/Fannie problem, the Democrats resisted.
Below are excerpts Senate and House committee meetings where Democrats were vehemently protecting the two GSO’s against Republican attempts to increase regulation:
What They Said About Fan and Fred
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003: Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there’s a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios. . . . Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), speaking to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez: Secretary Martinez, if it ain’t broke, why do you want to fix it? Have the GSEs [government-sponsored enterprises] ever missed their housing goals?
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House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003: Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .
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Do you think Cubans are fighting for healthcare or freedom from Communism?
House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003: Rep. Gregory Meeks, (D., N.Y.): . . . I am just pissed off at Ofheo [Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight] because if it wasn’t for you I don’t think that we would be here in the first place. And Freddie Mac, who on its own, you know, came out front and indicated it is wrong, and now the problem that we have and that we are faced with is maybe some individuals who wanted to do away with GSEs in the first place, you have given them an excuse to try to have this forum so that we can talk about it and maybe change the direction and the mission of what the GSEs had, which they have done a tremendous job. . . Ofheo Director Armando Falcon Jr.: Congressman, Ofheo did not improperly apply accounting rules; Freddie Mac did. Ofheo did not try to manage earnings improperly; Freddie Mac did. So this isn’t about the agency’s engagement in improper conduct, it is about Freddie Mac. Let me just correct the record on that. . . . I have been asking for these additional authorities for four years now. I have been asking for additional resources, the independent appropriations assessment powers. This is not a matter of the agency engaging in any misconduct. . . . Rep. Waters: However, I have sat through nearly a dozen hearings where, frankly, we were trying to fix something that wasn’t broke. Housing is the economic engine of our economy, and in no community does this engine need to work more than in mine. With last week’s hurricane and the drain on the economy from the war in Iraq, we should do no harm to these GSEs. We should be enhancing regulation, not making fundamental change. Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Mr. Frank Raines. Everything in the 1992 act has worked just fine. In fact, the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals. . . . Rep. Frank: Let me ask [George] Gould and [Franklin] Raines on behalf of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, do you feel that over the past years you have been substantially under-regulated? Mr. Raines? Mr. Raines: No, sir. Mr. Frank: Mr. Gould? Mr. Gould: No, sir. . . . Mr. Frank: OK. Then I am not entirely sure why we are here. . . . Rep. Frank: I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential unsafety and unsoundness than, in fact, exists.
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Senate Banking Committee, Oct. 16, 2003: Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.): And my worry is that we’re using the recent safety and soundness concerns, particularly with Freddie, and with a poor regulator, as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie’s mission. And I don’t think there is any doubt that there are some in the administration who don’t believe in Fannie and Freddie altogether, say let the private sector do it. That would be sort of an ideological position. Mr. Raines: But more importantly, banks are in a far more risky business than we are.
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Senate Banking Committee, Feb. 24-25, 2004: Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.): What is the wrong that we’re trying to right here? What is the potential harm that we’re trying to avert? Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: Well, I think that that is a very good question, senator. What we’re trying to avert is we have in our financial system right now two very large and growing financial institutions which are very effective and are essentially capable of gaining market shares in a very major market to a large extent as a consequence of what is perceived to be a subsidy that prevents the markets from adjusting appropriately, prevents competition and the normal adjustment processes that we see on a day-by-day basis from functioning in a way that creates stability. . . . And so what we have is a structure here in which a very rapidly growing organization, holding assets and financing them by subsidized debt, is growing in a manner which really does not in and of itself contribute to either home ownership or necessarily liquidity or other aspects of the financial markets. . . . Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.): [T]he federal government has [an] ambiguous relationship with the GSEs. And how do we actually get rid of that ambiguity is a complicated, tricky thing. I don’t know how we do it. I mean, you’ve alluded to it a little bit, but how do we define the relationship? It’s important, is it not? Mr. Greenspan: Yes. Of all the issues that have been discussed today, I think that is the most difficult one. Because you cannot have, in a rational government or a rational society, two fundamentally different views as to what will happen under a certain event. Because it invites crisis, and it invites instability. . . Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.): I, just briefly will say, Mr. Chairman, obviously, like most of us here, this is one of the great success stories of all time. And we don’t want to lose sight of that and [what] has been pointed out by all of our witnesses here, obviously, the 70% of Americans who own their own homes today, in no small measure, due because of the work that’s been done here. And that shouldn’t be lost in this debate and discussion. . . .
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Senate Banking Committee, April 6, 2005: Sen. Schumer: I’ll lay my marker down right now, Mr. Chairman. I think Fannie and Freddie need some changes, but I don’t think they need dramatic restructuring in terms of their mission, in terms of their role in the secondary mortgage market, et cetera. Change some of the accounting and regulatory issues, yes, but don’t undo Fannie and Freddie.
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Senate Banking Committee, June 15, 2006: Sen. Robert Bennett (R., Utah): I think we do need a strong regulator. I think we do need a piece of legislation. But I think we do need also to be careful that we don’t overreact. I know the press, particularly, keeps saying this is another Enron, which it clearly is not. Fannie Mae has taken its lumps. Fannie Mae is paying a very large fine. Fannie Mae is under a very, very strong microscope, which it needs to be. . . . So let’s not do nothing, and at the same time, let’s not overreact. . . Sen. Jack Reed (D., R.I.): I think a lot of people are being opportunistic, . . . throwing out the baby with the bathwater, saying, “Let’s dramatically restructure Fannie and Freddie,” when that is not what’s called for as a result of what’s happened here. . . . Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.): Mr. Chairman, what we’re dealing with is an astounding failure of management and board responsibility, driven clearly by self interest and greed. And when we reference this issue in the context of — the best we can say is, “It’s no Enron.” Now, that’s a hell of a high standard.