Saturday, January 28, 2012

This and That

Getting Fannie and Freddie Positively Involved

When I first heard that the federal government was going to pay Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal on mortgages they own and use the two entities (it’s tough call them “companies” anymore) in a far more constructive way to help the nation rebound from some of its real estate problems, I was overjoyed.

With the continued criticism of the two from the political Right, I felt that the Obama Administration barely tapped the systemic good the two are capable of performing, if only incented and let loose. Maybe that’s changing?

This new step: asks the companies to reduces monthly payments on their loans which receive a “mortgage principal haircut”; recognizes that F&F have to operate on some sense of market principles; will inject billions into the economy as the fortunate F&F mortgagors start spending those monthly mortgage savings; and is an efficient way to deal with the market reality that Fannie and Freddie have so many US mortgage loans on their books.

If this works, the next step--which likely would require an executive regulation--since the GOP controlled Congress likely would balk at any legislation, would permit the two mortgage giants to do the same thing for other mortgage investors (read large commercial banks), holding both Fannie/Freddie and non Fannie/Freddie mortgage securities on their books.

Turning weaker loans into stronger ones, by cutting the principal, clearly helps consumers. I believe it also would strengthen bank balance sheets and might encourage the financial institutions to return to active home mortgage lending.


Good news, one way or another Tim Geithner is leaving government service no matter who wins the presidency in November.

The “best Democratic Treasury Secretary the banks could want”--which is my personal description-- has indicated he won’t stay if President Obama wins and it’s doubtful that “Newt-ney” or “Rom-ich” (you tell me who’s going to prevail) will invite him back.

So goodbye Tim, I wish I could say that “we hardly knew yee,” but unfortunately we got to know you quite well and you never dumped that “big bank first” set of priorities, which always puts the needs of large financial institutions over other considerations.

Job Swap, If the R’s Win?

Some think Geithner would be a natural at the World Bank. (Doubt it!)
There also is a strong rumor that Hillary Clinton—who also said this is her final year in the Administration—covets that job.

If those suggestions are true, Tim should just get a Metroliner ticket to New York and hunt for his next banking position, because, I believe The World Bank’s board of directors would find Mrs. Clinton a far more attractive candidate.

(Of course, if Joe Biden “retires” and Hillary replaces him on the Democratic ticket? Hmmmm!)

One World Bank problem is that current bank President Bob Zoellick, with whom I worked at Fannie on his two separate stints there, has done an excellent job and, despite his five year term ending this year, he likely could get an extension if he wants one.

If there is a Republican president after November’s election, that person easily could offer Bob Zoellick a cabinet post (Treasury or State, not necessarily in that order).

The indefatigable and brainy “Z”--who was former US Trade Representative and worked in the Jim Baker Treasury--has the substantive background to do either of those jobs and do them well. Some might suggest he could do both, simultaneously. (Paraphrased quote from a Time Magazine article about BZ, a few years ago, “The thing about Zoellick is that he has about 50 more IQ points than everyone else.”)


Newt seems to appeal to a lot of prominent GOP dullards, getting endorsements from Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain, while smarter R’s, like Rob Portman, Bob Dole, Tim Pawlenty, John Huntsman, and a few astronauts and NASA types come out for Romney.

The Florida Primary

The blog will go out before Tuesday’s Florida results will be known and the Republican internecine beatdowns continue, since none of the candidates is likely to pull out of the race until we go through a few more state primaries.

After watching Romney and Gingrich use a similar technique to respond to each other ‘s “false statements,” I now understand the secret to telling lies is quietly to say “yes,” nodding in a condescending way when challenged with the information you fibbed, and then go right on to your next attack point.

Not to suggest that Gingrich has more opportunities to do so, but Newt does it best, just looking at Mitt, slightly nodding and saying “yes” and then he loads up and whacks Mitt with another slobberknocker!

Conventional wisdom is that—at some point—Newt’s peccadilloes (and frankly Callista Gingrich’s jaded role being “the other woman” in Newt’s married life, no matter how many musical instruments or children’s art works she produces) will cause his world to come crashing down and all of the hubris, bravado, an institution challenging silver tongue oration --which has earned him votes and support—will crumble when people start asking, “Do we really want this man to be our President, really?”

Undeniably, Newt has an edgy surface appeal, but if he can run a successful campaign and win the GOP nomination with the baggage he (and she, too) is carrying, then we have lost more national character than I’m comfortable acknowledging.

I still may want to volunteer and be one of the 13,000 people (Newt's estimate) who travel to that new lunar base which “President Newt” swears he will construct before he “leaves office after his second term!”

As Jon Stewart asked, “Why stop at two terms?”

The former Speaker in the 1990’s stood in the way of the, then, 500,000 Washington DC residents seeking statehood for the District. But, as President, Newt says he will support statehood status for those 13,000 Americans colonizing the moon.

Newton Leroy Gingrich must feel pretty confident that a majority of those moonie pioneers won’t be Democrats.

Deficit Cutting, Go Big Sooner Rather Than Later

I know that the National Commission on Fiscal responsibility (Simpson/Bowles) gave the President and the Congress major budget/deficit cutting recommendations, which easily could do the job.

Here are some major meat axe savings I would recommend.

In 1964, we created the “Energy Department” to lead our efforts to free ourselves form foreign oil. It has failed; do away with it.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development probably is the only entity in the nation, beyond some (not all) local and state housing authorities, which cares about maintaining necessary public housing. Limit HUD’s role to just that and the FHA operations and cut the rest of it. It won't me missed.

Disassemble Homeland Security, make all of the components agencies independent and then do away with the duplication.

Limit the Transportation Department’s job to building and maintaining the interstate state highway network and get rid of everything else in the agency.

Do away with virtually all of the agriculture subsidies.

The states are responsible—or should be—for educating their children. Let the federal government, through a greatly downsized Department of Education, support those efforts with minimum federal guidelines which must be achieved to get Uncle Sam’s financial support.

I could do another dozen of these—likely sounding the current four GOP presidential candidates (they’re not always wrong!)--but incremental cuts won’t do the job, given our huge budget deficit and the thousands of interest groups which will moan anytime serious savings are proposed.

Some don’t like using large tools, but a big budget axe produces lots of results.

Maloni, 1-29-2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

South Carolina and Beyond

What a Hoot to Watch Newt Boot Mitt

For the political junkies, the South Carolina GOP primary was better than a trip to the circus and the zoo in the same day.

Newt, what a hoot!

I do expect Mitt Romney, eventually, will get the nomination, but it won’t be easy.

I also will be astounded if Newt’s blatancy and in--your-face aggressive style--much of it trying to cover his shortcomings—can fool a majority of GOP voters in future primaries or, if I am wrong, the American public in November.

As a citizen, I was ready for the angry theatrics and the gouge their eyes/kick them in the groin Republican politics to end. I wanted the GOP to finally settle on Mitch Romney, allowing for a more serious discussion to unfold between Romney and President Obama.

However, as a partisan, I wanted Newt to win in SC, Paul and Santorum to do well and the GOP bloodletting to continue as long as the candidates and their campaigns keep dishing it out.

As noted, I believe Romney will prevail over Gingrich, because the Republican Party establishment can’t be that whacko or harbor a political death wish.

They might beat President Obama with Romney but never with Newt. There are manifold reasons why so many seasoned GOP soldiers are Gingrich-negative.

If/when Romney does win the nomination, hopefully, a bullheaded Newt, Ron Paul, or Rick Santorum stays in the race as a “conservative option to Romney.” That draining scenario provides the Democrats with food for a presidential win and possibly even enough juice to hold onto the Senate.

Ron Paul should just fold his tent and walk away, but he is my candidate to figure out a way to stay active and pursue the Republican Holy Grail long after he’s mathematically “defeated.”

As a final comment, for real, I want to thank the senior Catholic officials who publicly called on their “fellow churchmen,” Gingrich and Santorum, to end their not so subtle race-baiting and efforts to demean the poor and needy. I wish others, in and out of the GOP, had the same principles.

That Lee Atwater “Willie Horton” garbage appeals to our citizens’ meanest and lowest instincts and it isn’t mindful of the human carnage the bad economic times have generated for lots of American families. Someone has to remind these guys—and anyone else who engages in it--they are running to be President of all of the American people.

I don’t think Gingrich’s pit bull personality--once he goes down--will allow him to do anything but throw grenades at Romney (and Obama) from the sidelines or wherever he chooses to stand.

Newt is an engaging scoundrel and, likely, a serial adulterer, who has the stones to go after the media for discussing those facts.

At least Newt didn't claim Romney's family harbored a "thespian," a line he's probably saving for Florida, West Virginia, or Alabama!

Parlez Vous Francais, Newt?

One of the funnier incidents to come out the GOP SC battle concerned Newt telling an audience—in a put down Romney effort—that the former Massachusetts Governor speaks French, “just like John Kerry.” (Translation: Here Mittens, let me stick in that “effete, Massachusetts, he’s not like you and me” knife one more time!)

I don’t know if Romney or John Kerry speaks French, Evangaline Morphos strongly believes that Newt Gingrich did 40 years ago and may still.

Ms. Morphos’s father taught French literature at Tulane University in the 1970’s when Newt Gingrich earned his Ph. D. in history. That Professor Morphos had been Chairman of Tulane’s Romance Language Department

In a column last week in Politico, Ms. Morphos points out that Tulane required their Ph. D. candidates to be conversant in one, if not, two foreign languages. Newt’s dissertation--the “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960”--dealt with learning tenets in a French speaking country and had more than 100 footnotes citing French language sources.

According to Ms. Morphos—who is on the faculty at Columbia University--the Tulane Language Department would not have blessed the dissertation topic if Newt couldn’t speak French (which is the language of the Congo) and which his work strongly suggested that he did.

Did Newt ever speak French--which would put his Ph. D. on very shaky ground, if he didn’t--or does his indictment of Romney represent a type of acting, which one might see a thespian perform?

The Financial Commentator and Me

There is a prominent financial writer who buys into the Wallison/Pinto/AEI line that Fannie Mae bought tons of bad loans in the 1990’s long before the public came to learn about Wall Street’s shoddy private label subprime securities (PLS). Recently the newsman and I have engaged in a series of emails trying to convince the other that he is wrong.

My last communication to him suggested—with so many distorted definitions of prime, subprime, good/ bad loans (see Wallison/Pinto/AEI)--that an easier way to decide if a loan was well underwritten or not is to look at whether the mortgage failed or stayed current.

No matter the terms and the underwriting, if the borrower stayed in the home and made the monthly mortgage payments, that was a good loan. If the borrower failed to do so—absent his or her death or serious compromise to the family income source (sustained unemployment, divorce, or major illness)—that likely was a bad loan.

In the 1990’s, when Jim Johnson was Fannie’s CEO, and early into the following decade, when Frank Raines was Fannie’s CEO through 2004, the mortgage loans Fannie acquired or securitized overwhelmingly were good loans which performed well.

Borrowers didn’t default, faithfully made their monthly payments, and Fannie Mae’s losses on its mortgage portfolio were de minimis and multiple federal reports—filed with the SEC, HUD, OFHEO--make those points clear.

That should be end of story regarding the Johnson and Raines years, no matter how the AEI and others twist definitions and “their findings.”

People can and should--as I have done—criticize Fannie Mae’s major acquisitions of subprime and Alt A mortgages beginning in 2005 and beyond. Those private label Wall Street originated loans are what bled the company and which continue to lose money.

However, conflating the eras allow the Fannie haters--and their media and think tank allies--to generate limited and simplistic Fannie Mae stories which are inaccurate and fail to illuminate.

Conference NFL Playoffs

I’ll take the “dogs” (those not favored) in today’s games, eventually hoping to see a Ravens and Giants Super Bowl. If my Steelers can’t win, I want to see Baltimore beat New England and the Giants prevail over San Francisco.

At least one half of actress Rooney Mara’s extended family--the Rooney’s own the Steelers and the Mara’s own the Giants--needs to get to the SB. (Ms. Mara is the female lead in “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”)

Maloni, 1-22-12

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some 2012 Thoughts

Poor JB!

“This week House Republicans will huddle at their annual three-day retreat in Baltimore to map out their 2012 agenda and strategy for responding to President Obama and Congressional Democrats.”

“But high on the agenda at that meeting for House Speaker John Boehner is likely to be an effort to bridge severe divisions with his own rank-and- file, many of whom questioned his leadership over the course of several showdowns with the White House and Democrats last year. Conservatives want Boehner to be more aggressive in standing for their principles.”

Front and center for the GOP is what to do about extending the payroll tax--beyond its current two month life--which Congress agreed to before leaving last year.

The demand from D’s and R’s will be for a one year extension, with the fight being—once again—how to pay for it.

The last time, Congress adopted a special Fannie and Freddie fee as the required 60 day revenue “pay for.” The easy step would be to rely on that same revenue source, again, and put the fee in place for 10 additional months.

But, that mechanism also perpetuates the mortgage entities and it’s a future cloudy with real estate uncertainty and mortgage finance doubt.

Might the wingnuts on the Right decide they don’t want to extend the lives of the former GSEs in a backhanded way and seek other ways to pay for a very popular tax cut?

We’ll find out over the new few weeks.

“Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready for Freddie or Fannie"

Last week, Fannie CEO Mike Williams announced that he’s leaving as soon as his successor can be named. Freddie’s CEO Charles Haldeman made a similar announcement late last year.

I nominate myself to run either Fannie or Freddie, preferably the former, if President Obama is stumped for candidates.

Everyone else and their grandfather has had their chance, so why not bring in someone who
knows more about the business than the legion of critics out there and even how to deal with the Congress, both sides of the Hill and both parties.

Also, clearly I know how to succeed while being pulled hither and yon. After all I’ve been married for more than 40 years—with kids and grand kids—and that has provided major “push me-pull me” experience.

Lastly, I can be had for whatever compensation Uncle Sam pays his senior civil servants, which should keep some of the congressional salary complaints down. Larger salaries can go to the work force at whichever company I’m posted.

Now, there’s a deal for you Mr. President.

If I get the job and join my old colleague Tom Donilon, currently the President’s National Security Advisor, maybe he would get me access to the one federal report I’ve wanted to see all of my adult life—the government’s UFO files.

That’s right, Mulder, they’re out there. (I hope this doesn’t dampen your interest in me Mr. President.)

The Fed’s report on Housing

As often is the case with the Federal Reserve, the central bank’s recent report on the nation’s housing and real estate markets simultaneously said a lot (verbiage) and nothing (practical recommendations).

The Fed did talk about the central role a Fannie and Freddie play but minced around in making recommendations. When boldness is/was needed, predictably the Fed tucked in its front and rear legs and "turtled."

The Fed might have gotten a lot more attention, as well as some serious positive action on stimulating the residential real estate market by noting the following: the banks are playing it safe and have taken themselves out of any independent financial stimulus picture, since they only originate mortgage loans they can sell to F&F.

Brother Bernanke could have recommended to Brother Geithner that for one year only, Treasury and FHFA permit Fannie and Freddie to run themselves, on a market sensitive basis, charging what the market permits for their goods and services and simultaneously permit F&F to act as agent for any "federally related mortgage" (defined in statute, as any F&F loan or any mortgage loan held by a federally insured depository) which requires restructuring.

Fannie and Freddie could bring a missing catalytic start, as well as standardization and entrepreneurial zeal, to the moribund real estate market and with little downside, since they are regulated tightly enough that there should be no fear of them financing/securitizing junk loans.

It's my opinion that newly motivated work forces at each company can produce far more--systemically--than they now do as Treasury/FHFA automatons, which only can mean positive developments for the economy.

What's to lose, save some political face for those who would demolish the pair, which still are being used heavily but inefficiently by the market? Congress—politically--can still throw them in the scrap heap after they’ve helped start the financial ball rolling.

Mitt versus Obama in November 2012

The doubt should end soon with Mitt Romney finally securing the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. But, will the Republican’s extreme right wing cotton to a Mormon or someone who has shown liberal tendencies on issues they hold near and dear?

My early bet is that they will swallow a lot of their bile and decide to vote for Mitt because they want so badly to beat President Obama.

But, it wouldn’t take too much for a conservative zealot—exorcised over Romney’s history, religion, silver spoon, country club liberalism and moderation—to lead willing GOP defectors away on a political suicide campaign and produce a “Ralph Nader” on Romney, like the real Ralph did to Al Gore in 2000. Here’s hoping.

For President Obama to repeat, he will need all of the Democrats he had in 2008 (unlikely get), plus a good slug of the independents, and hope that some of the R’s stay home.

The best thing for Obama may be the prospect that a Romney (or any R) presidential victory gives the GOP the Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court far into the future--if a conservative President gets to name one or two justices.

That’s a frightening specter: a new conservative majority in both houses ending federal programs—but not corporate subsidies; voting tax cuts for the wealthy; opining on environmental issues; assaulting a woman’s right to choose; attacking progressive court decisions; instituting harsh immigration reforms; blurring church and state boundaries; imposing its will on controversial issues such as evolution; and eschewing any real federal financial, health or safety regulation.

But those fears might just bring out just enough American voters to stop this scary turn to a US theocracy.

Maloni, 1-17-12

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Iowa, Steelers, Issa, and Wall Street

Look out while I pat myself on the back for picking Rick Santorum--a guy who humorist Andy Borowitz said, “still wears sweater vests”—emerging from Iowa as the newest GOP “flavor of the month” to badger Mitt Romney. I also predicted that one candidate, with a poor Iowa showing, would bag it—either Newt Gingrich or Michelle Bachmann-- and that's exactly what Mrs. Bachmann did the day after the vote.

Funny man Borowitz also had the best (made up) line—regarding Newt’s sensitivity and tenacity--in the Iowa aftermath.

Reporter: “Speaker Gingrich, given your very poor showing in the Iowa caucus votes, will you consider leaving the race?”

Newt: “Only if it has cancer!”

Last comment. Look out Rick Santorum; strap your helmet on tight. The media will be digging and your old GOP colleagues will be gunning for you.

Of course, they may not need to chop you down if you keep making thoughtless statements about minorities, as you did earlier this week.

Remember, as Urban League CEO Marc Morial reminded, you still are auditioning to represent the entire nation (not just the Evangelical right).

NFL Playoffs: God, Oscars, and Victories

Now, if the limping and injured Steelers just can get past the Denver Broncos this Sunday, I can relax on a cruise with my wife, until they likely play the Ravens in Baltimore the following week.

The road for the “just and virtuous” never is easy (he said sanctimoniously)!

Speaking of the Broncos-Steelers, I know Tim Tebow is a man of God, but half the Rooney family (Steeler owners) are priests and nuns, while “Rooney Mara,” female lead in the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” is part of both the extended Rooney family and also the Mara family, which owns the New York Giants. For her “Tattoo” work, she has a strong shot at winning an Oscar.

The blood related clergy from Pittsburgh and the good vibes emanating from a family-member actress--in a first class movie—might prove to be a tough mix for Tebow and the Broncos to overcome. (I hope.)

“Issa He Really Going to Keep The Names Quiet?”

If you were Senate Democrat and got a home loan from Countrywide Mortgage--before it was sold to the Wells Fargo company--your name wound up in the newspaper. Chris Dodd, former senator from Connecticut, who did not seek re-election in 2010, and Kent Conrad (D-ND), who already announced he won't run in November, were skewered for dealing with a Countrywide, a business run by Angelo Mozilo, a one time mortgage industry hero whose company and Mozilo himself came on hard times in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown, primarily for originating low quality subprime loans.

But, if you are a House Republican—other than poor Ed Royce (R-Cal), whose name came out over a year ago along with Dodd’s and Conrad’s—and your Countrywide financing was unearthed by Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Cal), Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee (labeled by some the JOB Committee or “Jihad on Obama”), your name stays secret and just gets sent for review/investigation to the House Ethics Committee, the do-noting protector of House perfidy.

Why has Issa, a self made millionaire, who seems to have plenty of past interactions with the law and the California police, chosen to apply kid gloves to the R's and not employ the same treatment in which their D Senate counterparts got busted and blasted?

Ask Chairman Issa or his staff, since they carefully have shielded IDs of the congressional Countrywide mortgagors in a “staff report” to Ethics, not a more traditional committee to committee report. I am sure that it has nothing to do with the myriad business and political GOP interests who seem to have a plethora of inroads to the Issa inner circle.

Reliable media sources say that three of the four named were GOP Members, who like their Senate counterparts, may not even have been aware that their loans came via a process which identified them as “Friends of Angelo (Mozilo),” Countrywide’s former business leader.

FOA’s were assured of a more rapid application process than others received, presumably others who were “not Friends of Angelo.”

I am sure, in the end, that Chairman Issa will insure that the Jih…oops, I mean justice will apply equally to Democrat and Republican alike!!

Mitt/Newt, “Wall Street? Huh, Where, What’s That?
Ferrera Says Bloomberg Hides Government Causes Of Financial Crisis.

“Peter Ferrera writes in a piece for the American Spectator (1/5) that the Bloomberg News in a December 21st article says that "Both former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney lay much of the blame on US government housing policies, saying they led to the real estate crash that almost brought down the banking system."

“Ferrera argues that it's not just Gingrich and Romney who think this, but virtually every Republican and conservative across America recognizes what is by now well established in the literature -- the government caused the financial crisis."

How can any serious GOP observer, let alone presidential candidate, ignore the catalytic Wall Street role in the nation’s financial meltdown, which delivered a body blow to the entire world economy? What is “well established in the literature,” is that Wall Street took advantage of a lax Bush Administration financial regulatory regime, demanded and welcomed by so many Republicans and pro-business types.

Wall Street created their own private label subprime mortgage securities—which detoured around the more restrictive Fannie/Freddie underwriting systems—and employed thousands of poorly trained, paid-by-the-application mortgage brokers--to provide flawed loans for their securities, which the same Street firms guaranteed, using high ratings extorted from very willing Wall Street rating agencies.

The same Wall Street investment banks fashioned the “credit default swap” securities that baffled federal regulators, but which institutional investors devoured as hedges against the very subprime securities Wall Street sold them.

Yes ample and cheap Fed money, as well as a souring economy, could have created national and international financial/economic problems. But, it never would have been as devastating and corrosive if Wall Street hadn’t created and flogged hundred of billions of dollars in worthless subprime mortgage backed securities to every major financial institution in the world.

Many national economies—including our own—still are bleeding because of the Wall Street actions.

So, Mitt, Newt and other GOP thinkers believe that all of this chaos, rife with Wall Street DNA, was exclusively the federal government’s fault?

They couldn’t be running for office and pandering for financial service company support could they?

Maloni, 1-6-2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy 2012

I Must Be Right, Look Who’s Upset!!

In the past few blogs, I’ve noted that—despite all of the angry rhetoric and BS talk aimed at Fannie and Freddie--the cowardly Congress has lacked the courage to make any significant budget decisions. In addition, a call it did make likely breathed life into Fannie and Freddie by using them as a “pay fors” to fund the two month extension of the payroll tax, a legislative action completed at year’s end.

No doubt, that two month relief will be extended to one year (requiring more “pay fors”), when Congress next takes it up.

The unique “homeownership tax”--which F/F must stick on their lender customers--in turn will be transferred to consumers in the form of higher mortgage costs. (The returning revenue skips Fannie and Freddie and flows right to the US Treasury.)

Now both Ed Pinto and Gretchen Morgenson, he of the make believe “subprime numbers” which he alleges Fannie bought in the 1990’s (although those loans never defaulted) and she the author of a book which employs Ed’s fantasy figures (see Joe Nocera’s evisceration of Pinto—his AEI colleague Peter Wallison—and Pinto’s data, in the 12-24 NYT), have now awakened to the fact and damned Congress for the resurrection action.

For people who claim to be so smart, Ed and Gretch are very naïve when it comes to Washington politics, since once the congressional vampires start supping on the former GSEs’ blood (or their revenue), the Congress won’t stop. Watch for the fees to be perpetuated and likely grow, as demands for bipartisan “pay fors” inevitably increase.

The bottom line here is that congressional greed always will trump ideology. So what if some revenue raising action keeps the evil twins alive, Congress can pretend it is doing something right by periodically whacking Fannie and Freddie, ignoring they also are hitting the American home buyer.

Score: Maloni-1, bad guys-0.

It Was the Democrats, Clinton, Frank, Pelosi or…W?

When the Raging Right picks its enemies list of those responsible for whatever it is about Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac which angers them that day, inevitably they bang away at Democrats.

D Administrations or D’s in Congress wind up getting smacked by the WSJ, Heritage, AEI, Cato and the like. But those conservative institutions seem to mince and dance around their last President, George W. Bush. He and his Administration leaned on Fannie and Freddie to do more and goosed up the companies’ affordable housing goals while entwining the two in the Bush “ownership society.”

For those with temporary amnesia, I want to provide a link to President Bush’s famous 2002 Atlanta housing speech, where he called on the nation and the federal government to do a much better job and boost homeownership rates for everyone, especially black and Hispanic families.

Now if only Bush’s SEC, Alan Greenspan’s Fed, the Comptroller of the Currency, the FDIC, as well as the GSE regulator, had their heads up—instead of stuck in an institutional body cavity— they would have nopticed that Wall Street was going around the Fannie and Freddie underwriting systems and using their own looser standards to underwrite mortgages for many poor and minority families.

President Bush—and the nation—would have been far better off had the Wall Street slicksters never put so many low income families into loans they could ill afford. (Fannie and Freddie made a huge mistake when they later bought those crap mortgage backed bonds, but that doesn’t erase the sins of those investment banks which created them or the federal regulators who permitted their formation.)

Also, had the President not chosen Mel Martinez as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Alphonso Jackson as Under Secretary (both of whom Bush, produly, introduced to the crowd in Atlanta that day), the President might have been more successful.

Martinez was a nice man, but a housing lightweight who couldn’t leave tracks in wet mud, while Jackson—a few years into the job--barely avoided jail time when he was discovered manipulating HUD contracts for political reasons.

Enjoy the former President’s rhetoric and see if you believe that those remarks contain any DNA from 2008’s financial debacle and mortgage market collapse.

REMARKS_BY_PRESIDENT_GEORGE_W._BUSH_.doc I18N YGP.SaveAll I18N YGP.SaveProgress I18N YGP.ViewAfterSave

Overcome by the Spirit of Christmas

And to what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a fairly written, almost objective article in the Dec. 27 online Wall Street Journal.

I don’t want to get too carried away with this fact, but here is the link for all to read. Speaking of sleeping at the switch, I wonder which WSJ editorial elf let this one slip by?

Tomorrow’s Iowa Caucus

Here’s rooting that tomorrow’s GOP Iowa caucus produces another “flavor of the month” winner, maybe Rick Santorum or Ron Paul, to force the Republicans to dither for some additional weeks and months before they reluctantly turn to Mitt (“Mittens”??--see Maureen Dowd) Romney as their standard bearer.

Hopefully distant finishes in Iowa will sap whatever life there is in the candidacies of Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and whoever else is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, so some of the cacophony—especially which candidate spends more time in church--will subside.

Maloni, 1-2-2012