Barney Frank was hitting a Fannie Exec. in the fanny

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by John_Wensink, Oct 4, 2008.

  1. The truth is slowly coming out.

    WASHINGTON — Unqualified home buyers were not the only ones who benefitted from Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank’s efforts to deregulate Fannie Mae throughout the 1990s.

    So did Frank’s partner, a Fannie Mae executive at the forefront of the agency’s push to relax lending restrictions.

    Now that Fannie Mae is at the epicenter of a financial meltdown that threatens the U.S. economy, some are raising new questions about Frank's relationship with Herb Moses, who was Fannie’s assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie.

    Both Frank and Moses assured the Wall Street Journal in 1992 that they took pains to avoid any conflicts of interest. Critics, however, remain skeptical.

    "It’s absolutely a conflict," said Dan Gainor, vice president of the Business & Media Institute. "He was voting on Fannie Mae at a time when he was involved with a Fannie Mae executive. How is that not germane?

    "If this had been his ex-wife and he was Republican, I would bet every penny I have - or at least what’s not in the stock market - that this would be considered germane," added Gainor, a T. Boone Pickens Fellow. "But everybody wants to avoid it because he’s gay. It’s the quintessential double standard."

    A top GOP House aide agreed.

    "C’mon, he writes housing and banking laws and his boyfriend is a top exec at a firm that stands to gain from those laws?" the aide told FOX News. "No media ever takes note? Imagine what would happen if Frank’s political affiliation was R instead of D? Imagine what the media would say if [GOP former] Chairman [Mike] Oxley’s wife or [GOP presidential nominee John] McCain’s wife was a top exec at Fannie for a decade while they wrote the nation’s housing and banking laws."

    Frank’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Frank met Moses in 1987, the same year he became the first openly gay member of Congress.

    "I am the only member of the congressional gay spouse caucus," Moses wrote in the Washington Post in 1991. "On Capitol Hill, Barney always introduces me as his lover."

    The two lived together in a Washington home until they broke up in 1998, a few months after Moses ended his seven-year tenure at Fannie Mae, where he was the assistant director of product initiatives. According to National Mortgage News, Moses "helped develop many of Fannie Mae’s affordable housing and home improvement lending programs."

    Critics say such programs led to the mortgage meltdown that prompted last month’s government takeover of Fannie Mae and its financial cousin, Freddie Mac. The giant firms are blamed for spreading bad mortgages throughout the private financial sector.

    Although Frank now blames Republicans for the failure of Fannie and Freddie, he spent years blocking GOP lawmakers from imposing tougher regulations on the mortgage giants. In 1991, the year Moses was hired by Fannie, the Boston Globe reported that Frank pushed the agency to loosen regulations on mortgages for two- and three-family homes, even though they were defaulting at twice and five times the rate of single homes, respectively.

    Three years later, President Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development tried to impose a new regulation on Fannie, but was thwarted by Frank. Clinton now blames such Democrats for planting the seeds of today’s economic crisis.

    "I think the responsibility that the Democrats have may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was president, to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Clinton said recently.
     
  2. This falls under the heading of silent media bias. What they choose not to cover is just as important as what they do cover. Stories that conflict with their agendas never see the light of day.

    A spat Sarah Palin had with some small town librarian years ago is front page news. A massive conflict of interest that contributed to the drestruction of FNM and FRE? Not newsworthy.
     
  3. From the Federal Reserve:

    "Neither the CRA nor its implementing regulation gives specific criteria for rating the performance of depository institutions. Rather, the law indicates that the evaluation process should accommodate an institution's individual circumstances. Nor does the law require institutions to make high-risk loans that jeopardize their safety. To the contrary, the law makes it clear that an institution's CRA activities should be undertaken in a safe and sound manner." (emphasis added)

    What about mergers or acquisitions -- did the CRA get in the way of that?

    "Since 1988, there have been more than 13,500 applications for the formation, acquisition, or merger of bank holding companies or state-member banks reviewed by the Federal Reserve Board. Over this time, twenty-five applications have been denied, with eight of those failing to obtain Board approval involving unsatisfactory consumer protection or community reinvestment issues."

    Wow, just 8 out of 13,500. That's less than one tenth of 1%.

    What about the methods of forcing compliance?

    "The CRA is one of several laws enacted to ensure that consumers and communities have access to financial services and products regardless of location or demographics. Congress sought to achieve that goal not by imposing rigid, prescriptive rules but by charging regulators to use flexible standards that could change, as needed, over time."

    Gee, this doesn't sound too onerous; What was all the brouhaha about?

    "The debate surrounding the passage of the CRA was contentious, with critics charging that the law would distort credit markets, create unnecessary regulatory burden, lead to unsound lending, and cause the governmental agencies charged with implementing the law to allocate credit. Partly in response to these concerns, the act adopted by Congress included little prescriptive detail."

    What are the requirements of the CRA?

    The CRA simply requires the Federal Reserve and the other federal financial supervisory agencies:

    • to encourage federally insured depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of their entire communities, including low- and moderate-income areas, consistent with safe and sound operations;
    • to assess their records of performance under the CRA during examinations; and
    • to take those CRA records into account when evaluating proposals for expansion.

    Hey, that sounds pretty flexible. What sort of discretion exists in applying the CRA:

    The law gives the agencies considerable discretion and flexibility to fashion programs and procedures to carry out the purposes of the law, to issue implementing regulations that include measures of performance, and to modify those regulations in response to changing markets. This flexibility has contributed to CRA's relevance and adaptability through times of rapid economic and financial change, and widely differing economic circumstances among neighborhoods.

    Wow, this stuff makes the wingnuts and gasbags look pretty foolish. What's your source for all this?

    All quotes are come from the testimony of Sandra F. Braunstein, Director, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, before the Committee on Financial Services, or from the Federal Reserve website.
    http://bigpicture.typepad.com/