These risky loans, and the defaults that followed, were what set off a chain reaction of massive financial losses that brought down the whole economy.
Was this due to George W. Bush and the Republicans? Only partly. Most of those who pushed the lowering of mortgage lending standards were Democrats-- notably Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, though too many Republicans went along.
At the heart of these policies were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who bought huge amounts of risky mortgages, passing the risk on from the banks that lent the money (and made the profits) to the taxpayers who were not even aware that they would end up paying in the end.
When President Bush said in 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be reined in, 76 members of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the contrary. These included Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel.
If we are going to talk about "the policies that created this mess in the first place," let's at least get the facts straight and the names right.
The current policies of the Obama administration are a continuation of the same reckless policies that brought on the current economic problems-- all in the name of "change." Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still sacred cows in Washington, even though they have already required the biggest bailouts of all.
Why? Because they allow politicians to direct vast sums of money where it will do politicians the most good, either personally or in terms of buying votes in the next election.