Housing Nominee Watt Flunks Privacy And Transparency Tests

Two prerequisites for any nominee for government posts is dedication to transparency in government and a respect for the privacy of citizens. Before we get to any other issue about Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C.,  President Obama’s expected nominee to be director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the government housing entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we must first get past his troubling record on two issues regarding these concerns in which he was on the opposite side of bipartisan good-government coalitions.

During the debate leading up to the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul in 2o10, Watt supported nearly all of the legislation’s costly mandates on the private sector. But he thought having the Federal Reserve go through a simple audit of its books by the Government Accountability Office, which nearly every other agency goes through, would place too much of a “burden” on this government entity. So Watt helped gut the provision supported by then-Rep Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and a huge left-right coalition that included the Competitive Enterprise Institute, to audit the Fed.

Then the next year Watt became a co-sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act. When privacy concerns were raised, again from the left and right (and again including CEI), Watt pooh-poohed what he called the “hyperbolic charges.” SOPA was soon dropped because of online activism based on legitimate privacy and innovation concerns.

More to come on Watt’s other troubling views.