The so-called financial “reform” bill backed by President Obama gives federal bureaucrats new powers over the Internet, while doing nothing about the corrupt government-backed mortgage giants that spawned the financial crisis.
For example, “the bill contains provisions that would put the Federal Trade Commission in position to start issuing rules on Internet transactions that would not only slow down business growth but also have no relevance at all to the financial collapse that prompted the bill.”
Meanwhile, the bill does nothing to reform the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, admits Obama’s Treasury Secretary, tax cheat Timothy Geithner, even though he admits that “Fannie and Freddie were a core part of what went wrong in our system.” Worse, the Obama administration lifted the $400 billion limit on bailouts for Fannie and Freddie, so that they could continue to buy up junky mortgages at taxpayer expense, and showered their executives with $42 million in compensation. The Obama Administration is now expanding the bailouts of these mortgage giants so that they can reduce the payments of deadbeat mortgage borrowers. (At the direction of the Obama administration, Freddie Mac is now running up $30 billion in losses to bail out mortgage borrowers, some of whom have high incomes. Federal regulators sought to make Freddie Mac hide the resulting losses from the SEC and the public.)
Government pressure on banks to make risky loans was a key reason for the mortgage meltdown and the financial crisis. If Obama has his way, that pressure will increase. The House earlier approved Obama’s proposal to create a politically-correct entity called the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. “The agency would be in charge of enforcing the Community Reinvestment Act, a law that prods banks to make loans in low-income communities.” It would do so without regard for banks’ financial safety and soundness, even though the Community Reinvestment Act was a key contributor to the financial crisis.
So, too, were the government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They helped spawn the mortgage crisis by acting as loan toilets, buying up risky mortgages and thus creating an artificial market for junk. “From the time Fannie and Freddie began buying risky loans as early as 1993, they routinely misrepresented the mortgages they were acquiring, reporting them as prime when they had characteristics that made them clearly subprime.”
Why did they buy these risky loans? They put up with Clinton-era affordable-housing regulations that required them to buy up lots of risky loans, in order to curry favor on Capitol Hill and thus retain their annual $10 billion in tax and other special privileges (which they possessed owing to their status as “Government-Sponsored Enterprises” or GSEs). They paid their CEOs millions in the process, and engaged in massive accounting fraud–$6.3 billion at Fannie Mae alone–to increase the size of their managers’ bonuses. As GSEs, they were exempt from the capital requirements that apply to private banks, so they did not have enough reserves to cover their losses when their mortgages started defaulting.
Banking expert Peter J. Wallison, who prophetically warned against the risky practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for years, says that Obama’s proposals will lead to “bailouts forever” and give big, politically-connected banks that are “too big to fail” the ability to drive smaller rivals out of business at the expense of consumers and taxpayers. His colleague Alex Pollock notes that Obama has not lived up his administration’s claims that it would back reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Obama claims that it will not lead to more bailouts, but even congressional Democrats admit that it will. As Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) admitted, the “bill has unlimited executive bailout authority…The bill contains permanent, unlimited bailout authority.”