Let's jump right in:
The member of Congress most responsible for our current economic troubles may pay for his sins in November.So much Jack-spin in such a small Jack-graf. This is such an old chestnut that Frank has already responded to it. In March of 2009:
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. No one insisted more strongly on the lax lending standards at the heart of the subprime mortgage crisis. No one fought more vigorously against oversight of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), whose bankruptcies accelerated the economic collapse.
"The issue that day in 2003 was whether mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fiscally strong," wrote Donovan Slack of the Boston Globe Thursday. "Frank declared with his trademark confidence that they were, accusing critics and regulators of exaggerating threats to Fannie's and Freddie's financial integrity ... Now, it's clear he was wrong."
[T]he Republican history on this subject appears to end in 2003. I understand why they find later events unpleasant, since those events document the gathering series of policy mistakes that the Republicans made which ended in their being repudiated in 2006, and re-repudiated in 2008. In their view of the world, the last relevant thing that happened was a statement I made in 2003 in which I said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not in crisis. I did say that. And I would have said it as well – and may have – about Wachovia Bank, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and dozens of other financial institutions in America and elsewhere which were not in fact in crisis in 2003. [emphasis added]He went on:
What happened subsequently, in the years the Republicans wish to ignore because they cannot defend what happened – is that the Bush administration pushed for even more subprime lending, Alan Greenspan refused to use congressional authority he’d been given in 1994 to regulate it, and the House Republicans blocked any efforts to legislate against it. In fact, as quoted in a story in the Bloomberg News, when the Bush administration ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase significantly the number of loans they bought for people below median income, I objected saying that this would be good neither for the borrowers who could not repay the loans nor for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.Incidentally, Donovan Slack of the Globe (who Jack quotes) while heaping lots of blame on Congressman Frank also wrote:
But Frank said that putting blame entirely on him is unfair — and several independent analysts agree. They said Republicans also failed to take warning signs seriously enough to avert disaster, despite controlling the White House and both houses of Congress between 2003 and 2007, a crucial period leading up to the Fannie and Freddie failures.Something of Slack's that Jack didn't quote. Same with this:
When the Democrats won control of the House in 2006 and Frank became chairman of the Financial Services Committee the following year, one of the first measures he helped pass imposed tougher regulations on Fannie and Freddie and prevented them from taking on too much risk.Indeed for not fighting vigorously against oversight of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, this is an odd charge considering that Frank sponsored the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007 which, according to the CRS summary:
“It’s the Republican line. They say it happened on my watch, but my watch began in January 2007,’’ Frank said. “The mistake I made was a nonoperational one — I wasn’t in power. From the day I became chairman, I think we did everything we could.’’
By the time Frank’s bill passed, it was too late.
Amends the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 (Act) to establish, in place of the present Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), headed by a Director (Director) possessing general supervisory and regulatory authority over the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the federal home loan banks ("the regulated entities").Jack, like some other conservative critics, conspicuously ends his history of the lending crisis at the punctuation ending Barney Frank's 2003 statement while his chairmanship of the Committee started 4 years later.
In any event, the whole "Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac created the crisis" is more or less bunk.
From Businessweek in 2008:
There’s a dangerous — and misleading — argument making the rounds about the causes of our current credit crisis. It’s emanating from Washington where politicians are engaging in the usual blame game but this time the stakes are so high that we can’t afford to fall victim to political doublespeak. In this fact-free zone, government sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the real estate bubble and subprime meltdown. It’s completely false. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were victims of the credit crisis, not culprits.So Jack's arguments (that Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac is to blame and Barney Frank is responsible for that) are both old and incorrect.
Start with the most basic fact of all: virtually none of the $1.5 trillion of cratering subprime mortgages were backed by Fannie or Freddie. That’s right — most subprime mortgages did not meet Fannie or Freddie’s strict lending standards. All those no money down, no interest for a year, low teaser rate loans? All the loans made without checking a borrower’s income or employment history? All made in the private sector, without any support from Fannie and Freddie.
Look at the numbers. While the credit bubble was peaking from 2003 to 2006, the amount of loans originated by Fannie and Freddie dropped from $2.7 trillion to $1 trillion. Meanwhile, in the private sector, the amount of subprime loans originated jumped to $600 billion from $335 billion and Alt-A loans hit $400 billion from $85 billion in 2003. Fannie and Freddie, which wouldn’t accept crazy floating rate loans, which required income verification and minimum down payments, were left out of the insanity.
How much of a surprise is that?