Friday, November 18, 2011

Gingrich and the GSEs

There's no doubt about it. As Bryan Preston alludes, the Dem/media establishment has a hit out on Newt over his creative description of lobbying efforts for Freddie Mac in the mid 2000s. Preston links an AP article posted on NPR:
Four people close to Freddie Mac say he was hired to strategize with his employer about identifying political friends on Capitol Hill who would help the company through a very difficult legislative environment. All four spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss the personnel matter freely.
Never mind who they were, why was that a 'difficult' time period? Why didn't NPR describe the difficulty?

Maybe it was because the 'difficulty' stemmed from allegations that former execs Gorelick and Raines were cooking the books so they could keep the good bonuses flowing (bonuses are only evil when going to entities such as regular corporations, Wall St brokers and Republicans). When Newt was hired (the second time) in 2006 the above two individuals had been sent packing and the GOP was out for blood, with most Democrats circling the wagons to protect their 'holding pen'.

All the while the housing bubble was steadily growing into a Hindenberg blimp. NPR didn't really mention it, but the GSEs gave donations to the Obama campaign for the same reasons. Obama hired long time Fannie exec Jim Johnson as a consultant, and of course Rahm Emanuel had "worked" for Freddie Mac and was by all descriptions part of Wall Street yet he became advisor to the president and mayor of Chicago.  If you don't believe the above characterization re-read the words of former Alabama Democratic congressman Artur Davis, who sat on the GSE committee:
"Like a lot of my Democratic colleagues, I was too slow to appreciate the recklessness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I defended their efforts to encourage affordable homeownership, when in retrospect I should have heeded the concerns raised by their regulator in 2004. Frankly, I wish my Democratic colleagues would admit that when it comes to Fannie and Freddie, we were wrong. By the way, I wish my Republican colleagues would admit that they missed the early warning signs that Wall Street deregulation was overheating the securities market and promoting dangerously lax lending practices. When it comes to the debacle in our capital markets, there is much blame to go around for both sides."
For some reason that revelation wasn't earth shattering back in 2008.  But it highlights the 'help' the GSEs needed when they hired Newt and other GOP lobbyists--get the right wing regulators off their backs to keep the ball rolling under a president who had concerns about their stability despite his overall wish for an ownership society. NPR again:
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for years had been under scrutiny from Republicans on Capitol Hill who opposed government involvement in the mortgage business and wanted to scale back the companies' size and impose tough regulation.
And yet, Barney Frank just told the MSNBC bobblehead that he saved the day by putting the GSEs into conservatorship in late 2008.  After the bubble popped.   And Frank was in some of the same hearings Davis attended. 

Oh never mind, we know that in this bi-partisan epic fail there can only be one villain.  Newt is probably sugar-coating his role but in the court of media opinion only side can be guilty of such a heinous crime. 

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