It was amusing to hear John McCain come up with his “new” plan to save homeowners from foreclosure. Where has this guy been hiding? Doesn’t he know about the efforts already under way to do exactly that? And where was he when Congress was being hoodwinked out of seven hundred billion dollars plus a billion and a half more in “pork”? Standing up in the Senate shouting “Aye!” – that’s where.
McCain is no genius (especially when it comes to economics) and he hasn’t got a clue about the financial crisis the world is swept up in. So after he hands Hank Paulson billions to bail out the baddies who precipitated the crisis, he wants to give three hundred billion dollars more to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy all the mortgages of imprudent homeowners (from the dumb banks that lent the homeowners money they obviously could not repay). That’s a surprisingly generous gesture, especially from someone like McCain, and it must rankle fellow-Republicans who don’t believe in that kind of government intervention.
Think about the silliness of McCain’s approach. The rescue plan for homeowners should have been a substitute for the seven hundred billion-dollar bailout – not an add-on. I wrote a blog about that last month, and since then I’ve seen similar proposals from very credible people. Our argument is that by fixing the housing market, the mortgage securities that Wall Street is holding would regain value.
Barack Obama (pictured above at financial crisis meeting), who has some smart economic advisers (Robert Reich and Warren Buffet, for example) also felt obliged to vote for the Wall Street bailout (Paulson’s scam was based on extortion) but Obama was among those who insisted that it include help for homeowners threatened by foreclosure. That saves taxpayers three hundred billion, compared with the McCain plan.
Meanwhile, Congress was already working on ways to set the housing market back on its feet. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, who voted against the bailout, has been pushing legislation to create new ways for homeowners to refinance their mortgages and stay in their homes. His proposal would require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to retool mortgages that they hold on their books. It would also establish a direct loan facility within the Federal government to require lenders and other financial institutions that benefit from the bailout to refinance or modify mortgages in danger of default or foreclosure.
Nelson (photo at left) is also calling for an investigation of the credit rating agencies that helped foster the obscene growth of the mortgage-backed securities industry. “Investors relied on and trusted in those credit ratings,” he says. “And the public deserves to know how these rating agencies concluded that such risky investments could receive high credit ratings.” And like Obama, Nelson is demanding better regulation of financial markets.
Now guess who is shamelessly climbing aboard the regulation bandwagon after decades as a deregulation crusader? John McCain. He has seen the light, and promises that if we elect him president he will keep his Wall Street pals on a tight leash. If you buy that, I’ve got a bridge to nowhere that I’d like to sell you.