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Tina Brown, former editor of the New Yorker, Vanity Fair and the quickly defunct Talk, launched a new website this week called The Daily Beast. So far, it looks a tad empty for my tastes. But, the stories seem to be thoughtful, with actual real reporting in them (I’m not making this up folks!), so cheers Tina! Onto the housing matters. One of today’s lead pieces is entitled “The Enablers” about the senators and representatives in Congress who allowed the housing crisis to get as bad as it did. And the piece wags a finger in an unexpected direction—-at the democrats. But, they, they, they’re for regulation!?! Right?
Spurred by successive accounting scandals in which both Fannie and Freddie overstated earnings, legislators embarked on ultimately unsuccessful attempts to tighten regulation on the government-sponsored enterprises. In 2003, the Bush administration proposed to create two agencies to take over supervision of both Freddie and Fannie.
Republican senators backed the idea. The chief advocates in the Senate were Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, backed by presidential candidate John McCain, Republican of Arizona, Elizabeth Dole, Republican of North Carolina, John Sununu, Republican of New Hampshire, and Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama. Senator Jon Corzine, Democrat of New Jersey, introduced related but separate legislation. Both bills failed.
The article also includes a slideshow of the so-called “enablers” and donations made to them by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s political action committees and various affiliates. Barack Obama doesn’t make the slideshow, but last night, during the presidential debate, he was criticized for taking money (a lot) from the mortgage giants. Here, USA Today documents the mud-slinging:
“With the encouragement of Sen. Obama and his cronies,” McCain said, government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were key drivers of the financial crisis — “the match that started this forest fire.” McCain said Obama is the second-highest recipient “in history” of campaign contributions from employees of those entities in the Congress.
But, USA Todayalso follows up with this fact-checking:
Obama has received $126,349 in contributions from Fannie and Freddie employees and political action committees…That’s second in Congress only to Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, who chairs the banking committee. McCain has received $21,550.
The McCain campaign has produced no evidence, however, that Obama did favors for the corporations.