Jay Cost wrote in an excellent column that John McCain is a victim of the mortgage crisis. I believe that Cost is right, because the night before the mortgage crisis hit, Senator McCain was beating Senator Obama by an average of 3-5 points in the polls. What I can deduce from those previous polls is that when people originally compared McCain to Obama—pre-mortgage crisis—the majority found McCain to be the better, more qualified man. Then, the mortgage crisis reared its ugly head and made a sizeable number of voters change their vote from McCain to Obama—I, personally, believe out of sheer anger at the entire situation. The polls certainly haven’t moved because of anything that Senator Obama has done to show leadership in this crisis, as Pat Buchanan correctly points out here. I mean, at best, Obama has been a Forrest Gump-like bystander/observer throughout this event (i.e., “If you need me call me” was his response to the mortgage crisis), and at worst, Obama has been a bit player in this whole debacle (which I will gladly demonstrate how, if you will bear with me).
So, now, the million dollar question is, “Who exactly should Americans be angry at”? Well, according to my research, this entire mortgage crisis avalanche began as a snowball called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—two mortgage giants, also called Government Sponsored Enterprises or GSE’s. Fannie Mae (which was started in the 1930’s) and Freddie Mac (which was started in the 1970’s to assist Fannie Mae) were originally set up in order to help low income people buy homes (which is a noble cause; however, these GSE’s started to get out of control in the 1990’s, due to too many foxes watching the henhouse). According to Wikipedia, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac operated by buying loans from mortgage originators, and then repackaging them as mortgage backed securities, and then selling them to investors (presumably many on Wall Street) in the secondary mortgage market. Now, in 2007, the subprime mortgage crisis began when an increasing number of borrowers with poor credit were unable to make their mortgage payments (particularly if they had an adjustable rate mortgage)—this caused a rapid increase in home foreclosures. As a result of all of the foreclosures, home prices declined, which then made people struggling to pay a mortgage that they couldn’t afford even less likely to pay it. Not to mention, all of the increasing home foreclosures created stricter lending standards, and thus made it more difficult for borrowers to get mortgages and bank loans in general (and for banks to borrow money from other banks), due to a decreased liquidity in the market.
DISCLAIMER: I am no financial expert—I am just trying to summarize this whole fiasco as simply as possible. So, if any of you financial experts out there (like MBecker or Blackhead) want to give me hand, or correct me on a mistake, then feel free.
So, again, who should Americans be angry at? (And, I might add that they have a right to be angry.) Well, they should be angry at former Fannie Mae CEO (and Obama adviser) Franklin Raines who received loans below market rate from Countrywide Financial (Fannie Mae was the biggest buyer of Countrywide mortgages), and who helped run Fannie Mae, and thus our economy, into the ground. In fact, the video below shows Franklin Raines specifically telling Republicans and members of congress that Fannie Mae doesn’t need any regulation or oversight.
By the way, the above video also shows Democratic House Financial Services committee chair, Barney Frank (who is also a suitable target for voters anger), along with numerous other House Democrats, bullying Republicans inquiring about imposing regulations on Fannie and Freddie. (The end of the video even shows Bill Clinton admitting that Democrats fought him in regard to regulating Fannie and Freddie.)
CT Democratic Senator, Chris Dodd, is also a fair target for voter anger considering the fact that he got a sweetheart deal on a loan from Countrywide Financial—especially since he is, after all, the chairman of the Senate banking committee. Not to mention, Senator Dodd has received the highest amount of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae out of everyone in the Senate. It should also be noted that Barack Obama, a freshman Senator, received the third highest amount of contributions from Fannie Mae. (Obama received $105,849 from Fannie Mae, whereas McCain received $21,550 from Fannie Mae.)
I could definitely see how American voters could be angry at Jim Johnson, another former CEO of Fannie Mae who, along with Franklin Raines, received loans at below market rate from Countrywide Financial—just like our pal Senator Dodd did (see Wikipedia link and scroll down to “Conflict of Interest”). Oh, and to add insult to injury, Jim Johnson was in charge of selecting Senator Obama’s vice presidential nominee, as Jim Geraghty of National Review documents here.
And finally, to a lesser degree, American voters should be angry at ACORN (Associations of Community Organizers for Reform Now), a community based organization that, according to Wikipedia, supposedly advocates for affordable housing, but is currently being investigated for voter fraud in more than a dozen different states. Furthermore, our pal Senator Dodd, wanted to funnel 20% of the profits from the recent Wall Street bailout into—you guessed it—ACORN. Oh, and Barack Obama was an attorney for ACORN in 1995 (ACORN has sued and intimidated banks to get them to loan money to people who can’t afford to pay it back), has been a key figure in ACORN’s leadership training sessions as Stanley Kurtz has documented for National Review, and his campaign has given over $830,000 to ACORN to register voters on his behalf. On a side note, our own Dan McLaughlin has done a beautiful job in his diary about ACORN—I highly recommend it.
So now, what about John McCain? I can see why voters would get angry at him over the mortgage crisis and switch their vote away from McCain to Obama. I mean, it was John McCain who had two advisers who were both former CEO’s of Fannie Mae and who both helped tank our economy—oh wait, that was Barack Obama. And, it was John McCain’s supporters in Congress who blocked any kind of regulations or oversight on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—oh wait, that was Barack Obama’s friends in the Congress. And, it was John McCain who received $105, 849 from Fannie Mae—oh wait, that was Barack Obama. And, it was John McCain who trained ACORN radicals to commit voter fraud and to sue banks in order to pressure them to lend to people who would default on their mortgages—oh wait, again, that was Barack Obama. But wait, didn’t Obama suspend his campaign in order to prevent Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid from earmarking around twenty million dollars to ACORN in the bailout package, and to make sure that the bill contained some oversight as to how the 700 billion dollars was to be spent? Oh wait—that was John McCain. I believe that Barack Obama’s response to the financial crisis was to say, “If you need me, call me”.
And, last but not least, wasn’t it Obama who predicted the mortgage crisis in 2005 and sponsored legislation to try to reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Oh, wait, that was John McCain as our own Ken Taylor pointed out in his excellent diary. Michael Barone also has an excellent column in which he explains that much of the mortgage crisis could have been prevented by the 2005 legislation that John McCain cosponsored (The Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act)—McCain’s bill was opposed by every Democrat on the Senate Banking committee, but was supported by the Republicans. Furthermore, Barone directly quotes Barney Frank as stating that he “wanted to roll the dice a bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing”. In fact, John McCain even stated in his speech on the Senate floor that “Fannie Mae’s profits were illusions deliberately and systematically created by the company’s senior management”. Below is a video from Fox News that discusses the legislation that John McCain tried to pass in 2005 regarding the financial crisis. The video also shows Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Barney Frank trying to block any kind of oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
On a side note, I can understand voters being angry with George Bush and Hank Paulson for demonstrating such poor leadership during the bailout debacle as our own Civil Truth points out in his excellent diary. However, as Barone points out in his column, the Bush administration did try, over seventeen times, to reign in Fannie and Freddie. But, in any case, I could still understand if voters said, “Bush is the president, the buck stops with him”. What I can’t understand, though, are voters who are angry at Bush voting against John McCain (if they think that he’s more qualified than Obama), as some way to punish George Bush. First of all, if there has been anyone who has bucked the Bush administration on a plethora of issues (from torture, to global warming, to firing Rumsfeld), it’s been John McCain. Second of all, whether Obama wins or McCain wins, in a few months, George W. Bush will be relaxing and cutting the brush outside his ranch in Crawford, TX. In other words, it’s really no sweat off of Bush’s back who wins or loses this election—it’s not going to affect him or punish him one way or the other, but it will affect the country.
So, in conclusion, my friends and fellow Americans, I can understand that you are enraged over the idiocy that has caused this recent financial crisis and has possibly put your savings or retirements in jeopardy. Truth be told, this ain’t been no picnic for me either. I am a fourth year medical student, and I have never had trouble getting a student loan that covered all of my tuition (and left me with plenty of money left over), until now. And yes, I have family members that have lost sizeable portions of their 401(k) plans. Not to mention, when I graduate in six months (and start my residency), my husband I had planned on buying a house—now, we are not sure if we’ll be able to get a loan. In all honesty, I don’t exactly know what I am going to do in the future, as far as my finances go. However, I know what I am NOT going to do. I am not going to “go wobbly” and get suckered in by some inexperienced snake oil salesman with his siren song of “hope and change”, who has had no real accomplishments in his entire political career (he didn’t even hold one hearing of his Senate subcommittee on Afghanistan that he chairs). In other words, I am not going to vote for Barack Obama simply because I am angry about the financial crisis, because most of the people I am mad at are his supporters, associates, and advisers—not john McCain’s (that would be like punching an innocent bystander on the subway, when I am really mad at the mugger who just robbed me). I am going to vote for the man who has been one of the few people in Washington to demonstrate any kind of leadership on this financial crisis, and who was right when he tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2005—just like he was right when he supported the surge. I am going to do right by my family and my country. I am going to vote for the impressive and inspirational man featured in the fantastic video below. I am going to vote for John McCain for president of the United States of America.