Sunday, September 21, 2008
INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, September 18, 2008 4:30 PM PT
Congress says it likely will adjourn this month having done nothing on the most important issue in America right now: the financial meltdown from the subprime lending crisis.
Can Congress just walk away from a problem it helped create? Maybe, maybe not.
There's now some talk of a grand deal between the Treasury, the Fed and Congress for a "permanent" solution: creating a government agency to buy up all the bad subprime debt, just like the Resolution Trust Corp. did with bad real estate in the 1980s and 1990s.
Already, the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to keep the subprime crisis from crashing the world economy. The collapse of twin mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with the failures of Lehman Bros., Bear Stearns and insurer AIG, expose taxpayers to more than $1 trillion in liabilities.
Until now, Congress has been surprisingly passive. As Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, "no one knows what to do" right now.
Funny, since it was a Democrat-led Congress that helped cause the problems in the first place.
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently barked "no" at reporters for daring to ask if Democrats deserved any blame for the meltdown, you saw denial in action.
Pelosi and her followers would have you believe this all happened because of President Bush and his loyal Senate lapdog, John McCain. Or that big, bad predatory Wall Street banks deserve all the blame.
"The American people are not protected from the risk-taking and the greed of these financial institutions," Pelosi said recently, as she vowed congressional hearings.
Only one problem: It's untrue.
Yes, banks did overleverage and take risks they shouldn't have.
But the fact is, President Bush in 2003 tried desperately to stop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from metastasizing into the problem they have since become.
Here's the lead of a New York Times story on Sept. 11, 2003: "The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago."
Bush tried to act. Who stopped him? Congress, especially Democrats with their deep financial and patronage ties to the two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie and Freddie.
"These two entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not facing any kind of financial crisis," said Rep. Barney Frank, then 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."
It's pretty clear who was on the right side of that debate.
As for presidential contender John McCain, just two years after Bush's plan, McCain also called for badly needed reforms to prevent a crisis like the one we're now in.
"If Congress does not act," McCain said in 2005, "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."
Sounds like McCain was spot on.
Posted by M Theory at Sunday, September 21, 2008