In my more cynical moments, I think that we Americans deserve what we get from our politicians, many of whom can be generally described as nothing less than loathsome. You say, "Williams, that's a pretty heavy putdown." My question to you is how else would you describe these congressmen who are now blaming the financial mess on the failure of the free market? Starting with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, that was given more teeth during the Clinton administration, Congress started intimidating banks and other financial institutions into making loans, so-called subprime loans, to high-risk homebuyers and businesses. The carrot offered was that these high-risk loans would be purchased by the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Anyone with an ounce of brains would have known that this was a prescription for disaster but there was a congressional chorus of denial.
Five years ago, Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) vouched for the "soundness" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and said, "I do not see any possibility of serious financial losses to the treasury." In 2004 congressional hearings, where the Bush administration sought greater oversight over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said, "We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac and particularly at Fannie Mae," adding that "the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals." Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said, "There's nothing wrong with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." In these hearings Barney Frank said that he doesn't see "anything in the reports that raises safety and soundness problems." Earlier this year, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) praised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for "riding to the rescue" to help people get home mortgage loans, adding that they "need to do more" to help high-risk borrowers get better loans.
In 2002, when the Enron and WorldCom scandal broke, the Congress held hearings and some chief executives were jailed. Who did what was the big story in the major news media almost every night. Congress rushed to enact the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002. The act placed unnecessary, onerous and costly accounting standards on American businesses. The Enron and WorldCom debacle is a drop in the bucket compared to the financial mess that Congress has created through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in the name of "affordable" housing. Have you heard Congress calling for hearings? They haven't called for hearings because many of them, both Democrats and Republicans, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars, were in cahoots with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If Americans are going to be on the hook to bail out these government-sponsored enterprises, at the minimum congressional hearings ought to be held to find out who did what and when.