Posts Tagged ‘regulation’

Democrats’ Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT): Because Whether They Have ‘Good Intentions’ Or Not, Theirs Truly IS The Road To Hell

February 10, 2012

Democrats cursed Americans with the AMT tax that has been a kick in the butt that has kept becoming a harder and harder kick in the butt every year since.

But keep in mind as we point a finger at the Democrat Party for taxing the bejesus out of middle class Americans with the AMT that it is only ONE of the many taxes Democrats are hiking on us.  From the article:

There are plenty of other tax issues to worry about for 2012.

Says Weltman, “More than 50 different tax breaks expired at the end of 2011. Unless those are extended, many people will be adversely affected.” As one example, she cites the tax break that applied to people filing in states without an income tax: Last year they could deduct local sales tax in lieu of state income tax.

This year they can’t—unless the break is restored. “They’ll be hit hard,” she warns.

Democrats are the party that hits decent people HARD.

Income Taxes: 30 Million May Be Hit by AMT This Year
By ALAN FARNHAM | Good Morning America – Wed, Feb 8, 2012 12:07 PM EST

Get ready to start paying higher taxes—$3,900 to $8,000 more a year on average. Unless Congress acts, some 30 million Americans will have to pay the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), whose rates, depending on your income, are either 26 percent or 28 percent.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Nearly every married taxpayer with income between $100,000 and $500,000 will owe some alternative tax.”

Like many awful things, the AMT is the result of good intentions.

It was created by Congress in the 1960s to help ensure that even the most tax-savvy rich paid some minimum amount. Congress, however, did not index its definition of “rich” to inflation. The result is that an income that qualified you as rich 30 years ago subjects you to the AMT—or would, if Congress didn’t authorize, every year, a “patch”—a specified amount of money a filer can deduct from his adjusted gross to stay below the AMT’s threshold.

If Congress failed to approve a new patch, the permissible amount for married couples filing jointly would fall, for example, from the current $74,450 to $45,000. “A lot more people would start paying a lot more money,” says Andrew Schwartz, founder of Schwartz & Schwartz, P.C., a CPA firm specializing in the tax and financial planning issues applicable to young professionals.

Right now uncertainty over when and whether Congress will approve a new patch makes tax planning difficult, he says. “For seven or eight years now,” he explains, “Congress has been passing these one or two-year patches, rather than make a more permanent fix.” According to him, tax planning software now in use assumes the worst: That Congress won’t act.

If no new patch were approved, says Barbara Weltman, a tax and business attorney and author of J.K. Lasser’s Tax Deduction for Small Business, 20 million to 30 million taxpayers not previously subject to the AMT would have to pay it.

The likelihood that you’ll be hit, says Schwartz, increases if you:

Have a large family

Have high real estate taxes and/or high state and local income taxes

-Claim significant miscellaneous itemized deductions

-Exercise and hold incentive stock options

-Realize significant long-term capital gains

Figuring out if the AMT applies to you isn’t easy. You start by going to the IRS’ website and using the “AMT Assistant,” a tool that will determine if you must file Form 6251, an AMT worksheet.

Persons who fail to make the effort (or who misjudge their eligibility) will have to pay not just the higher tax but penalties and interest as well.

You can reduce AMT exposure by reducing your adjusted gross income. For example, you can increase the contributions you make to your 401(k) or IRA. The self-employed can claim a home office deduction. Persons with substantial portfolio can move money from taxable investments into tax-exempt bonds or bond funds.

“With the AMT,” says Schwartz, “It’s all about timing.” Try to pay, for example, your real estate and state and local income taxes in years where your income falls outside AMT range, he advises.

There are plenty of other tax issues to worry about for 2012.

Says Weltman, “More than 50 different tax breaks expired at the end of 2011. Unless those are extended, many people will be adversely affected.” As one example, she cites the tax break that applied to people filing in states without an income tax: Last year they could deduct local sales tax in lieu of state income tax.

This year they can’t—unless the break is restored. “They’ll be hit hard,” she warns.

Heritage released the fact that Democrats seize $2.3 trillion from the MAKERS who create jobs and invest in our economy and then they “redistribute” $2.5 trilion it to the TAKERS in exchange for voting Democrat.

The top 10 percent of American “makers” pay 46% of all federal income taxes – a greater burden than ANYWHERE else on earth.  But they aren’t paying their “fair share” because Democrats are Marxists.

Obama and Democrats say that they haven’t raised taxes on the middle class.  But Obama and the Democrats are also proven liars.

We’re all of us getting taxed up to our necks due to Democrats’ taxes – whether those taxes are publicly demagogued (“make the rick pay their ‘fair’ share“) or are hidden:

Time to Tackle the Hidden Tax of Regulation
by Human Events
05/10/2011

Republicans are hitting President Obama on his idiotic call for tax hikes as well as his avaricious appetite for increased government spending, as they should.  But here’s a new target for them: The hidden tax of regulation.

A new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) titled “Ten Thousand Commandments” reveals the vast amount of private-sector capital drowned in the sea of government regulations.

The report’s conclusion is mind-boggling.  The cost of complying with federal regulations has hit the $1.7 trillion dollar mark.

That’s trillion, with a T.

To put that number in perspective, it’s larger than the President’s own anticipated 2011 budget deficit of $1.6 trillion.  In fact, the current regulatory burden imposed on businesses across America now amounts to 50% of total government spending in one year alone.

That’s nuts!

But guess what?  We can top it.

As the CEI report underscores, the compliance cost of regulation is larger than all corporate pretax profits in 2008 and dwarfs the estimated 2010 individual income tax receipts by nearly 50%.

That last point is worth repeating:  The cost of abiding by all the government regulations tallies up to $1.7 trillion, which towers over the revenue brought in by all income taxes, in every bracket.

We can also add that the compliance costs amount to more than $8,000 per American employee, but we’ll have to stop the comparisons there or else this editorial would rival Atlas Shrugged? in length—but with statistics.  Yikes!

So every time you hear some Democrat bemoan the ill-informed view that America is an underregulated society, tell them to put the above numbers in a pipe and smoke them.

Seriously.  America is hamstrung by onerous regulation.  That anyone can say otherwise defies belief.  CEI notes that the Federal Register, which spells out all the government’s proposed and confirmed regulations, runs practically 25,000 pages—an increase of 26% over the last decade.

And thousands more rules are being proposed each year.

A true “stimulus” to the economy would be to relax much of these regulations and allow entrepreneurs and business owners to spend their capital on expansion and product innovation, rather than conforming to the obligations of some bureaucratic scheme.  That’s not to say scrap all federal oversight, but the way things operate now, agencies are encouraged to brainstorm new policies without taking into account how they would negatively impact the economy.

I’ve asked the question: “If Raising Taxes Would Get America Out Of Trouble, WHY IS THE EURO ZONE IN SUCH DEEP SH!T???

I’ve asked the question: “Hey Democrats, Why Is It That States With The Highest Tax Rates Have The Highest Debt???

And seriously, why is it???

Greece is on the verge of complete collapse because it basically pursued the exact same policies that American Democrats have demanded.

We have one last chance to take a different path than “the road to hell.”

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US Is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece. And Why Is That In The Age Of Obama???

June 14, 2011

Thanks for “fundamentally transforming” our economy, Barry Hussein!

We’re constantly being told that Obama has done a great deal to make our economy stronger.  Because who wouldn’t rather have 9.1% unemployment than that 7.6% that Obama started out with.

The thing that most killed the US economy in 2008 was the sheer weight of godawful subprime mortgages that Democrats imposed on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and all the other mortgage lenders in order to create more “fairness” and allow everyone (especially racial minorities) to have “the right” to own a home whether they could actually afford to do so or not.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “Government Sponsored Enterprises,” all the investors knew.  So even as Fannie and Freddie began bundling together thousands of riskier and ever riskier mortgages into giant mortgage backed securities to advance Democrat-enacted policies, large investment houses continued to gobble them up.  After all, this was an arm of the United States Government – and the United States Government ALWAYS pays its debts.

Like all scams, it worked for a while.  But as soon as there was a correction in the dramatically overvalued housing market, the whole boondoggle began to implode.  And since Fannie and Freddie had bundled all kinds of bad mortgages in with the good ones, there was absolutely no way for anyone to know how much risk was contained in any of these giant investment vehicles all these giant private banking houses found themselves holding.

And suddenly the perception that Government Sponsored Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “safe investments” turned into a “misperception.”  And the fecal matter began to hit the rotary oscillator bigtime.

Fannie and Freddie were the first to collapse.  The big private players who had played ball with them shortly followed.

President George Bush tried SEVENTEEN TIMES to reform Fannie and Freddie when there was actually a chance to do something.  Go back to what the New York Times stated in 2003:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10—  The Bush  administration today recommended the most significant  regulatory  overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings  and loan  crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new   agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume   supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored   companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending   industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with   Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the   companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business.   And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks   of their ballooning portfolios.

Republicans were demonized for “deregulation” by the dishonest Democrat Party machine.  But they TRIED to regulate what needed to be regulated.  Democrats stopped them.

Many Republicans like John McCain literally begged Democrats to do something before it was too late.  But Democrats threatened to filibuster any bill that in any way prevented Fannie and Freddie from continuing the reckless economy-killing policies.  Conservative economists such as Peter Wallison had been predicting the Fannie and Freddie boondoggles would cause an economic collapse since at least 1999.  Wallison had warned back then:

 In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980′s.

From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

But rigid opposition from Democrats – especially Democrats like Senator Barack Obamawho took more campaign money from Fannie and Freddie and dirty crony capitalism outfits like corrupt Lehman Bros. than ANYONE in his short Senate stint – prevented any “hope and change” of necessary reform from saving the US economy.

The timeline is clear: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were giant behemoths that began to stagger under their own corrupt weight, as even the New York Times pointed out:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so big — they own or guarantee roughly half of the nation’s $12 trillion mortgage market — that the thought that they might falter once seemed unimaginable. But now a trickle of worries about the companies, which has been slowly building for years, has suddenly become a torrent.

And it was FANNIE and FREDDIE that collapsed FIRST before ANY of the private investment banks, which collapsed as a result of having purchased the very mortgaged backed securities that the Government Sponsored Enterprises SOLD THEM.  It wasn’t until Fannie and Freddie collapsed that investors began to look with horror at all the junk that these GSE boondoggles had been pimping.

The man who predicted the collapse in 1999 wrote a follow-up article titled, “Blame Fannie Mae and Congress For the Credit Mess.”  It really should have read, “Blame DEMOCRATS.”  Because they were crawling all over these GSEs that they had themselves created like the cockroaches they are.  But Wallison is nonpartisan.

That same New York Times article that said President Bush was trying to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ended with this demonstration of Democrats standing against necessary reform:

These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac —  are not  facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative  Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services  Committee. ”The  more people exaggerate these problems, the more  pressure there is on  these companies, the less we will see in terms of  affordable housing.”

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving   something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the   bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable   housing,” Mr. Watt said.

Why was Barney Frank deceitfully claiming that Fannie and Freddie weren’t facing “any kind of financial crisis”?  BECAUSE REPUBLICANS WERE RIGHTLY WARNING THAT THEY WERE.

Only about a month before the whole Fannie and Freddie boondoggles Democrats had fiercely protected collapsed – taking the entire US economy with it – Democrat Barney Frank was on the record saying THIS:

REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASS.: “I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward.”

So we blew up nearly COMPLETELY BECAUSE OF DEMOCRAT POLICIES.  But Democrats along with an ideological mainstream media that is the worse since Joseph Goebbels was the Nazi Minister of Propaganda were ready.  They ran on a platform that it happened while Bush was president, and that therefore Bush was entirely responsible for the thing he tried over and over again to fix while Democrats used their power to block those efforts.

Let me just say “Franklin Raines.”  Raines as Fannie CEO presided over Enron-style accounting policies and got $90 million in his account because of those corrupt policies.  But Raines was the first BLACK CEO of Fannie Mae.  And even though he was a Democrat and a Clinton guy, President Bush lacked the courage to push the “first black Fannie Mae CEO” out.  Which of course is the same reason that the “first black Fannie Mae CEO” didn’t do hard time in prison where he belonged.  “Political correctness” is a demonic device by which liberals protect themselves – usually from going to prison where they ought to go.  He got a sweetheart deal basically so Republicans wouldn’t be accused of being racists by
Democrats who of course call them racists no matter what they do.  My main point is simply that it was Democrats, Democrats, DEMOCRATS who did this to us.

Fannie Mae was well politically-connected Democrats went to make millions as they bounced back and forth between “public” employment where they developed contacts and “private” crony capitalism to get rich.

Here’s the conclusion of New York Times financial markets writer Gretchen Morgenson about DEMOCRAT Jim Johnson:

Morgenson focuses on the managers of Fannie Mae, the government-supported mortgage giant. She writes that CEO James Johnson built Fannie Mae “into the largest and most powerful financial institution in the world.”

But in the process, Morgenson says, the company fudged accounting rules, generated big salaries and bonuses for its executives, used lobby and campaign contributions to bully regulators, and encouraged the risky financial practices that led to the crisis.

And of course DEMOCRAT Jim Johnson who got rich plundering Americans was an OBAMA Democrat.

Morgenson – again a New York Times writer and not someone from Fox News – said of Fannie Mae on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program on Monday, June 13: “Whatever Fannie Mae did, everybody else followed.”  And of course they all followed right into an economic Armageddon created by Democrats for Democrats.

But who got blamed?  Republicans, of course.  George Bush and Republicans were to Obama and the Democrats what Emmanual Goldstein was to Big Brother in 1984.  George Bush and Republicans were what the Jews were to Adolf Hitler.  Fascists always need a bogeyman.  And so the people who were truly to blame turned the people who tried futilely to stop them into the scapegoats.  All with the mainstream media’s complicity.

The analogy would be holding the police officer who tried but failed to catch the rapist for the rape of the woman rather than holding the actual rapist who raped her responsible.  But it was easier to say “This is the result of President Bush’s failed Republican policies” than it was to actually explain the facts to an enraged Attention Deficit Disorder-ridden ignorant pop culture – particularly when virtually no one in the biased mainstream media had any intention whatsoever of telling the truth.

Barack Obama – the ACORN community organizer who pushed these very America-killing policies – ran a demagoguing campaign promising to fix everything.

But has he?

How about a great big giant “NOT”???

What has Zero Obama done to fix that housing market that he helped collapse?  How about NOTHING???  After nearly three years of Obama, housing isn’t the worst since 2008; it’s gotten WAY WORSE than 2008 and is the worse since the Great Depression!!!  Obama started out with a terrible plan.  And we have terrible results to show for his terrible plan.  And yet this disgraceful fool actually keeps claiming he’s made things better!!!

Before you read this article, check out the “current account balance” compiled by the CIA.  Ours is a negative figure that dwarfs everyone else’s by so much it’s a joke.  Which is to say that Gross’s assessment is 1000% correct.

US Is in Even Worse Shape Financially Than Greece: Gross
Published: Monday, 13 Jun 2011 | 10:33 AM ET
By: Jeff Cox
CNBC.com Staff Writer

When adding in all of the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs the US is actually in worse financial shape than Greece and other debt-laden European countries, Pimco’s Bill Gross told CNBC Monday.

Much of the public focus is on the nation’s public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn’t include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures.

The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show.

Taken together, Gross puts the total at “nearly $100 trillion,” that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal position that he said won’t find a solution overnight.

“To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption,” Gross said in a live interview. “That’s much more than Greece, that’s much more than almost any other developed country. We’ve got a problem and we have to get after it quickly.”

Gross spoke following a report that US banks were likely to scale back on their use of Treasurys as collateral against derivatives and other transactions. Bank heads say that move is likely to happen in August as Congress dithers over whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The move reflects increasing concern from the financial community over whether the US is capable of a political solution to its burgeoning debt and deficit problems.

“We’ve always wondered who will buy Treasurys” after the Federal Reserve purchases the last of its $600 billion to end the second leg of its quantitative easing program later this month, Gross said. “It’s certainly not Pimco and it’s probably not the bond funds of the world.”

Pimco, based in Newport Beach, Calif., manages more than $1.2 trillion in assets and runs the largest bond fund in the world.

Gross confirmed a report Friday that Pimco has marginally increased its Treasurys allotment—from 4 percent to 5 percent—but still has little interest in US debt and its low yields that are in place despite an ugly national balance sheet.

“Why wouldn’t an investor buy Canada with a better balance sheet or Australia with a better balance sheet with interest rates at 1 or 2 or 3 percent higher?” he said. “It simply doesn’t make any sense.”

Should the debt problem in Greece explode into a full-blown crisis—an International Monetary Fund bailout has prevented a full-scale meltdown so far—Gross predicted that German debt, not that of the US, would be the safe-haven of choice for global investors.

America is going down because her stupid citizens wickedly voted for corrupt dishonest Democrat fools – the very fools who imploded our economy – to have complete power.  Nancy Pelosi took over dictatorial control in the House of Representatives, and Harry Reid took over the US Senate, in 2006.

Thanks to Obama, America is now worse off than Greece.  But that didn’t stop Obama from offering to bail out Greece.  Maybe it’s because George Soros is Greek; maybe because the American left has always adored the European-style socialism in spite of Thomas Jefferson’s warning that “the comparison of our governments with those of Europe is like a comparison of heaven and hell.”  Maybe because Obama simply WANTS hell for America.  But there you have it.

Republicans acknowledged they failed to live up to their values and spent too much.  But the last Republican budget (Fiscal Year 2007) passed in 2006 had only a $161 billion deficit.  The very next Democrat budget for FY 2008 had a deficit of $459 billion – nearly three times larger than the one they’d demonized Republicans for.  Then their FY-2009 budget dwarfed that deficit with a black hold of red ink deficit of $1.4 TRILLION.  That was more money than any government in the history of the world had ever contemplated.  But Democrats dwarfed that the very next year with a FY-2010 budget with a $1.6 trillion deficit.  And as for FY-2011, the Democrat Congress simply refused to perform its most basic duty of governance and didn’t even bother to pass a budget.  Republicans are now forced to do the last disgraced Democrat-controlled Congress’ job for them – and Democrats are demonizing them for it.

That’s how this game is played.  Democrats are fascist demagogues who shrilly launch into Republicans as they try to save the American people from unparalleled future suffering.  They are people who ROUTINELY demonize, demonize, demonize until THEY are the ones forced to call for the very things they demonized and tried to prevent from happening.  But by the time they react this time, just as before, it will be too late.

Try this on for size: our actual debt isn’t the $14 trillion we constantly hear about; it’s more like $200 trillion.  And even THAT gargantuan number doesn’t take into account the massive debts that all the liberal labor unions have amassed in state pensions (e.g., California’s public pension system has unfunded liabilities of $500 billion).  We cannot possibly hope to pay this – and yet Democrats demand more and more and more, and demagogue Republicans for even trying to cut millions when we need to cut TENS OF TRILLIONS or collapse.

Democrats run ads showing a look-a-like of Republican Rep. Paul Ryan pushing an old lady off a cliff; but they want every single senior citizen to die terribly as the Medicare system completely collapses while they refuse to do anything to fix it – as even Bill Clinton openly acknowledged.

We are going to end like the PIIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain- because we elected Democrat swine to ensure we perished like pigs.

Greece just got downgraded to the point where they are the lowest-rated currency in the history of the planet.  And it happened yesterday.

When that happens to us it will be the worst nightmare in history.  300 million Americans are going to go into an insanity of panic – and of course the violence will begin with the left.  If you don’t have an arsenal, someone will kick down your door and murder your whole family just to eat the food in your house.  And that hell on earth will be entirely because you trusted Democrats like Anthony Weiner to run your health care, your pension, your economy, your life.

I hope you vote in 2012 like your very LIFE was at stake in these elections.  Because this time it truly is.

Misery Index HIGHEST EVER, Hiring Only 70% Of 2006 Levels, And Boy Do We Ever Need A New President

May 16, 2011

Economics statistics are well on their way to becoming a Department in the 1984-style “Ministry of Truth.”

We start with misery, and the real apples-to-apples misery index that we can compare to the misrule of Jimmy Carter.  From Economic Policy Journal:

John Williams, over at Shadow Stats, compiles economic data for inflation and unemployment the way it used to be calculated pre-1990. Based on that data, the CPI inflation rate is over 10%, and the unemployment rate is over 15% (see charts). The Misery Index is the sum of the current inflation rate and the unemployment rate.  If it were to be calculated using the older methods, the Index would now be over 25, a record high. It surpasses the old index high of 21.98, which occurred in June 1980, when Jimmy Carter was president. Most believe the height of the Index along with the Iranian hostage crisis is what caused Carter to lose his re-election bid.

 

 

Using current calculation methods, April unemployment came in at 9.0% and the annualized April CPI number came in at 4.8%, for a Misery Index reading of 13.8.

The last time the Index came in with a higher reading with this index reading was in March 1983, with a reading of 13.90.

Ronald Reagan, of course, was president in 1983.  Reagan had a monster that Jimmy Carter largely created called out-of-control inflation.

As I previously explained:

The numbers told the sad story of the Jimmy Carter presidency: interest rates of 21%; inflation at 13.5%, and an unemployment rate of 7%.  And a relatively new economic device called “the misery index” – the combination of the unemployment and inflation rates which Carter had himself used to great effect in his 1976 campaign to win election – was at a shocking 20.5%.

And those who went through those dark and difficult times may soon be looking back to that period as “the good old days.”

Welcome back, Carter.

When Ronald Reagan took office from Jimmy Carter, inflation was at a meteoric 13.3% and the country was in the throes of a fierce recession. There was a real question as to whether workers’ wages would keep up with the costs of living, which made people afraid to either spend or save. And nobody knew how to control inflation – which had risen from 1.4% in 1960 to the aforementioned 13.3% in 1980 – causing a real erosion of confidence in the future. Jimmy Carter answered a reporter’s question as to what he would do about the problem of inflation by answering, “It would be misleading for me to tell any of you that there is a solution to it.”

But Ronald Reagan had a solution.  And by the time he left office, he had solved the problem of creeping inflation increases and had actually reversed the trend: he left behind a healthy inflation rate of 4.1%.

Reagan’s policies set the trajectory for growth that would last for 20 years.

Jimmy Carter didn’t have an answer for the economy, so he just made it worse and worse and WORSE.  Reagan had an answer.  He not only made it better; he established a trajectory of economic success.

And of course, we’re heading right back to that time of shocking inflation.  The cost of EVERYTHING is going up.  And there is absolutely no indication whatsoever that Barack Obama has an answer that is working.  Which is only going to make the pain last longer and the solution more difficult.  Presuming there is another Reagan waiting in the wings for that time when the American people overwhelmingly abandon Democrats and revile them for the failures that they are and basically always have been.

So what does the mainstream media do with that?

They create the propaganda that somehow Obama is a new Reagan, despite the fact that Obama reviles everything Reagan stood for, just as Reagan would have reviled everything Obama stands for.

Then there’s the enemployment beast.  How’s THAT hope and change working out for you?

Here’s some new news about hopey changey from the Wall Street Journal:

 MAY 16, 2011
Why the Job Market Feels So Dismal
The number of hires is the same today as it was when we were shedding jobs at record rates.
By EDWARD P. LAZEAR

Why don’t American workers feel that the labor market is on the mend? After all, the May 6 jobs report could suggest that the labor market is improving. Nonfarm employment rose by 244,000 and employment growth over the last three months is averaging over 200,000 per month. With unemployment at 9%, employment is still down many millions from where it should be, but up from its recession lows.

The fact is the jobs numbers that create so much anticipation from the business press and so many pundit pronouncements do not give a clear picture of the labor market’s health.  A better understanding requires an examination of hires and separations, or what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data. Here are some surprising facts:

First, the increase in job growth that occurred over the past two years results from a decline in the number of layoffs, not from increased hiring. In February 2009, a month during which the labor market lost more than 700,000 jobs, employers hired four million workers. In March 2011, employers hired four million workers. The number of hires is the same today as it was when we were shedding jobs at record rates.

We added jobs because hires exceeded separations, not because hiring increased. There were 4.7 million separations in February 2009. In March 2011 that number had fallen to 3.8 million. The fall in separations reflects a decline in layoffs, which went from 2.5 million per month in February 2009 to 1.6 million per month in March 2011. One small piece of good news is that the just-released April data showed hires up about 2% over last year’s average and 12% above the low reached in January 2010.

The decline in layoffs is not unexpected and does not necessarily reflect labor-market health. Layoffs tend to occur early in a recession. When an economy has reached bottom and has already shed much of its labor, layoffs slow. But that doesn’t mean that the labor force is recovering. We could have high unemployment and a stagnant labor force even when layoffs are low. Isn’t the fact that hires exceed separations indicative of a healthy labor market? Unfortunately, no.

At any point in the business cycle, even during a recession, American firms still hire a huge number of workers. That’s because most of the action in the labor market reflects “churn,” the continual process of replacing workers, not net expansion or contraction of employment. The lowest number hired in any month of the current recession was 3.6 million workers. Even during the dismal year of 2009 there were more than 45 million hires.

Bear in mind that the U.S. labor force has more than 150 million workers or job seekers. In a typical year, about one-third or more of the work force turns over, leaving their old jobs to take new ones. When the labor market creates 200,000 jobs, it is because five million are hired and 4.8 million are separated, not because there were 200,000 hires and no job losses. When we’re talking about numbers as large as five million, the net of 200,000 is small and may reflect minor, month-to-month variations in the number of hires or separations.

The third fact puts this in perspective. In a healthy labor market like the one that prevailed in 2006 and early 2007, American firms hire about 5.5 million workers per month. Recall that the current number of hires is four million and it has not moved much from where it was two years ago. The labor market does not feel like it is expanding if hiring is not occurring at a recovery-level pace—and that means at least a half million more hires per month than we are seeing now.

The combination of low hiring and a large stock of unemployed workers, now 13.7 million, means that the competition for jobs is fierce. Because there are now many more unemployed workers, and because hiring is only about 70% of 2006 levels, a worker is about one-third as likely to find a job today as he or she was in 2006. It is no wonder that workers do not feel that the labor market has recovered.

One final fact is worth noting. Healthy labor markets are characterized not only by high levels of hiring, but also by high levels of separations. Although it is true that the importance of quits relative to layoffs rises during good times, even the number of layoffs was greater in the strong labor market of 2006-07 than it is now. No one would suggest that layoffs are good for workers, but what is good is a fluid labor market, where workers and firms constantly seek to produce better products and to find more efficient ways to produce them. High labor market churn is a characteristic of a strong economy. It generally means that workers are moving to better jobs in growing sectors that pay higher wages and away from declining sectors that pay lower wages.

Allowing maximum flexibility encourages fluidity and means that employers are willing to hire workers who lose their jobs elsewhere. Many European countries have restricted mobility by imposing severance pay penalties on employers that lay workers off. More than reducing layoffs, these rigidities make employers reluctant to hire because of the penalties that they will later incur if a layoff is necessary. Such restrictions are in large part responsible for the chronically high rates of unemployment that have been prevalent in many European countries.

The prescription for the American labor market is simple: low taxes on capital investment, avoidance of excessively burdensome regulation, and open markets here and abroad. We must create a climate in which investment is profitable, productivity is rising, and employers find it profitable to increase their hiring rate. These are the mantras that economists have chanted in the past. But they are our best bet for ensuring a dynamic and growing labor market.

Mr. Lazear, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2006-2009, is a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a Hoover Institution fellow

Wait a minute.  What was that one sentence again?

Because there are now many more unemployed workers, and because hiring is only about 70% of 2006 levels, a worker is about one-third as likely to find a job today as he or she was in 2006.

Yeah, but George Bush was bad by mainstream media propagandist definition, and Obama is good by the same standard.

If you want welfare, vote for Obama.  You’ll get it until United States of America implodes into a failed banana republic.  And then you’ll get the Marxist-fascist hybrid the left has been dreaming of for the last fifty years.  You want a job?  Vote for a conservative Republican.

ObamaCare Is Killing Private Practice Physicians

January 8, 2011

First ObamaCare had death panels.  Then massive public outrage forced Democrats to abandon the death panels.  Then Obama brought back his death panels by sneaking them in via backdoor regulation in secrecy.  Then the public exploded in anger again.  And now the death panels are gone again.  At least until the next time these dishonest rodents go behind our backs to impose vile policies the people have already loudly rejected.

Then there’s the case of all the waivers.  As of now, 222 businesses have been given waivers from ObamaCare provisions because otherwise they would have to dump their employee health coverage altogether.  Including quite a few unions that pushed for ObamaCare, by the way.

Doctors are still getting shoved into nasty little death panels, however.  Because ObamaCare is murdering them:

12.21.10 | Sandy C. Pipes | MedCitizen
Private practice doctors: Another Obamacare casualty?

While making the case for his health reform package, President Obama argued that his proposal would make life easier for small-business owners.

Unfortunately, Obamacare threatens to undermine a group of small-business owners that is perhaps more important than any other to his reform effort — doctors in private practice.

The number of privately owned medical practices has declined sharply in the past five years. In 2005, at least two-thirds of practices were in private hands. That figure has dropped to less than half today — and is expected to sink below 40 percent by next year.

Many doctors, specifically those who have just completed a resident specialty, are now choosing not to enter private practice in the first place. Instead, they’re heading to salaried positions at large hospitals. Last year, 49 percent of first-year specialists chose hospital employment.

Obamacare will only exacerbate these trends. Some of the law’s dictates will make it more expensive to operate small practices — even though the rules are supposed to reduce medical costs.

Take the new law’s health IT initiative, which pushes doctors to set up extensive electronic health records in hopes of better coordinating care among providers. More information, the law’s boosters argue, means less waste and lower costs.

But many private practices can’t afford to drop five or six figures on expensive health IT systems that may not even save them money.

Boosters of health IT acknowledge that large organizations are more likely to enjoy its benefits. But shoving patients into ever-larger medical groups may not actually bring down costs.

The reason, as representatives of the American Medical Association recently warned, is that big hospital networks have greater market power. They can use that power to keep prices high, and there’s little that insurers — and even less that consumers — can do about it.

Paying more for treatment doesn’t necessarily guarantee better access or quality. Without an ownership stake in their practices, salaried doctors have an incentive to work the hours for which they’re paid — and no more. Fewer hours for doctors means fewer appointments for patients.

History demonstrates that these incentives matter. In the 1990s, several large hospitals bought up practices and put doctors on flat salaries. As Dr. Bill Jessee, CEO of the Medical Group Management Association, observed, doctors suddenly “weren’t working as hard as they were before their practice was acquired.”

Proponents of Obamacare have conveniently ignored these lessons. President Obama’s top health care aide Nancy-Ann DeParle, for instance, wrote in the August issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine that the new law is “likely to lead to the vertical organization of providers and accelerate physician employment by hospitals.” These organizations are called Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs.

Such vertical integration may prove costly. Already, hospitals lose money on a substantial chunk of the people they see. In New York, for example, hospitals take a loss on more than 70 percent of patients.

That’s mostly because of the stingy reimbursement rates paid by government health programs like Medicare and Medicaid. In 2008, the average Medicare reimbursement in New York represented a 4.7 percent underpayment. Medicaid’s reimbursements were even worse — as little as 64 percent of a hospital’s actual treatment cost. Those with private insurance are forced to pay more for care to make up the difference.

Hospitals’ Medicaid losses are compounded by the fact that the program’s beneficiaries use far more medical services than other patients. On average, the privately insured visit the doctor three and a half times a year. Medicaid patients make an average of seven visits.

Yet Obamacare will add 18 million new individuals to the program’s rolls by the end of the decade — and thus stretch our healthcare infrastructure even thinner.

Primary care physicians are already in short supply. The Center for Workforce Studies predicts that by 2020 there will be a shortage of 45,000 family doctors and 46,000 surgeons. Unfortunately, Obamacare provides no funding to significantly increase their numbers.

Emergency rooms will have to pick up the slack. The new law could result in as many as 41 million additional trips to the emergency room each year.

The health reform law was sold as a way to fill in the cracks in America’s fractured healthcare system. Instead, it has only made them wider.

This is just another example of how Marxist Democrats imposed their utter contempt for the free market system.  Doctors who don’t have their own practices have far less incentive to work hard when they receive the same salary whether they work hard or not.  And at the same time, the Medicaid patients go to the hospital twice as often as people who have insurance because it doesn’t COST them anything to do so.  Contempt like that is only possible for freeloaders who don’t have a stake in anything and don’t have to worry about their premiums going up like the people who pay into the system to keep the whole thing running.

This is why I keep saying that Democrats are either genuinely evil or totally stupid.  And either way they are moral idiots.

This is hardly the only article, and hardly the only issues that explain why ObamaCare is so vile.  I’ve got plenty of articles which detail plenty of reasons why ObamaCare is murder for the doctors whom our entire medical system depends upon:

Medical Pros Needed To Staff ObamaCare Getting Canned Because Of ObamaCare

Medical Doctor Points Out That Doctors Will Be Fined Or Jailed If They Put Patients First Under ObamaCare

ObamaCare Driving Essential Primary Care Physicans Out Of Medicine

Doctor Cassell: ‘If You Voted For Obama, Seek Urologic Care Elsewhere’

ObamaCare Factoid: Access To Health Care Doesn’t Mean Squat When Hospitals, Doctors And Pharmacists Bail

38 States Now Working To Preempt ObamaCare Disaster

Mayo Clinic Realizes ObamaCare A Total Disaster, Stops Accepting Medicare

Harvard Medical School Dean Flunks Democrat Health Bill

Why Won’t Obama Invite The Doctors Who Will Resign If His Health Agenda Passes?

Wall St. Journal Bursts The Obama Bubble: ObamaCare Is All About Rationing

And yes, that IS just for starters.

ObamaCare pledges to push something like 30 million more people into the health care system even as it forces the doctors who ARE the health care system to leave medicine.

How does that NOT sound like a total disaster in the making?

More Proof Democrats Destroyed The Economy In 2008: The Ongoing Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Disaster

November 8, 2010

Who destroyed the economy in 2008?  Democrats say it was Bush.  Why?  Well, because he was president, that’s why.

Why – when applying the same logic – Barack Obama STILL isn’t responsible for any of his economic mess fully two years after George W. Bush left office is anybody’s guess.

But stop and think.  The primary cause for the 2008 economic meltdown was a downturn in the housing market and the underlying mortgage market.

At the core of that meltdown was GSEs (that’s “Government Sponsored Enterprises” to you) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has always been that it was – and remains – a social welfare institution masquerading as a financial institution.  And they have made beyond-godawful “financial” decisions because their true loyalty has always been with socialist policies rather than financial ones.

Let’s look at Fannie and Freddie’s current picture:

Fannie, Freddie’s $685B fix
Bloomberg
Last Updated: 11:54 PM, November 4, 2010
Posted: 11:54 PM, November 4, 2010

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage firms operating under federal conservatorship, may cost taxpayers as much as $685 billion as the US covers losses and overhauls the housing-finance system, Standard & Poor’s said.

Costs for resolving the two government-sponsored entities could reach $280 billion, including $148 billion already delivered under a US Treasury Department promise of unlimited support, New York-based S&P said yesterday in a research report. The government may spend an additional $405 billion to capitalize a replacement for the two companies, which own or insure more than half the US mortgage market.

“It appears unlikely in our view that housing and mortgage markets will be able to operate normally without continuing and substantial government involvement,” S&P said, citing the GSEs’ growing portfolio of unsold homes, a sluggish economy, high unemployment, the prospect of rising foreclosures and billions in legacy losses.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who has said there is a strong case to be made for continued US involvement, has promised to deliver the Obama administration’s plan to overhaul the housing-finance system by the end of January. Republican lawmakers, who will take control of the House of Representatives in January, have called for the government to end its support for Washington-based Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, of McLean, Va.

“Although federal authorities have taken no concrete public steps toward sponsoring a GSE alternative, Standard & Poor’s believes that it’s a useful exercise to consider how much such a recapitalization might cost taxpayers,” the report said.

$685 BILLION.  That’s quite a mess.

Did it just happen?  Hardly.  This was going on for years.  This was what caused the subprime crisis that destroyed our economy in 2008.

Let’s survey the record.  According to record provided by The New York Times, Fannie and Freddie were in huge trouble PRIOR TO the economic collapse.  And their holdings were so massive that there is simply no reasonable way that one can maintain that their crisis didn’t directly contribute to the greater crisis to be revealed.  Read the article dated July 11, 2008:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so big — they own or guarantee roughly half of the nation’s $12 trillion mortgage market — that the thought that they might falter once seemed unimaginable. But now a trickle of worries about the companies, which has been slowly building for years, has suddenly become a torrent.

A timeline of the subprime loan crisis of 2008 clearly reveals that it was Fannie Mae’s collapse that started the entire mess rolling downhill.  From Wikipedia:

September 2008

    • September 7: Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which at that point owned or guaranteed about half of the U.S.’s $12 trillion mortgage market, effectively nationalizing them. This causes panic because almost every home mortgage lender and Wall Street bank relied on them to facilitate the mortgage market and investors worldwide owned $5.2 trillion of debt securities backed by them.[151][152]
    • September 14: Merrill Lynch is sold to Bank of America amidst fears of a liquidity crisis and Lehman Brothers collapse[153]
    • September 15: Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy protection[154]
    • September 16: Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s downgrade ratings on AIG‘s credit on concerns over continuing losses to mortgage-backed securities, sending the company into fears of insolvency.[155][156] In addition, the Reserve Primary Fund “breaks the buck” leading to a run on the money market funds. Over $140 billion is withdrawn vs. $7 billion the week prior. This leads to problems for the commercial paper market, a key source of funding for corporations, which suddenly could not get funds or had to pay much higher interest rates.[157]
    • September 17: The US Federal Reserve lends $85 billion to American International Group (AIG) to avoid bankruptcy.
    • September 18: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke meet with key legislators to propose a $700 billion emergency bailout through the purchase of toxic assets. Bernanke tells them: “If we don’t do this, we may not have an economy on Monday.”[158]
    • September 19: Paulson financial rescue plan is unveiled after a volatile week in stock and debt markets.

Democrats who bother to offer any reason at all why “Republicans got us into this mess” claim that the Republicans refused to regulate and reform the economic sector.

Well, let’s dig a little further.  Was it George Bush who refused to regulate or reform?

Hardly.

From US News & World Report:

Seventeen. That’s how many times, according to this White House statement (hat tip Gateway Pundit), that the Bush administration has called for tighter regulation of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

That’s right.  George Bush tried SEVENTEEN TIMES to reform and regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the agencies at the epicenter of the economic crisis.

When did this thing start?  Under Bush?  Not according to The New York Times, as I have pointed out before in a previous article.

From the New York Times, September 30, 1999:

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

More.  Again from the New York Times, September 30, 1999:

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980′s.

From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

What do we have, even in the pages of the New York Times?  A prediction that as soon as the economy cooled off, the mortgage market would explode like a depth charge and the government would have to step in to prevent a catastrophe.  And from a Clinton program, at that.

The same man – Peter Wallison – who had predicted the disaster from 1999 wrote a September 23, 2008 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Blame Fannie Mae and Congress For the Credit Mess.”

So this disaster began under Bill Clinton.  Specifically, it began in the very final years of the Clinton administration.  Interestingly, at the same time that the Dot-com bubble was getting ready to explode on Clinton’s watch.  Clinton got all the credit for a great economy, and Bush got to watch 78% of the value of Nasdaq destroyed just as he was taking office.  $7.1 TRILLION in wealth was vaporized (43% of the the Market Capitalization of the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Full Cap between 2000 Q1 and Q1 2003).  Bill Clinton handed George Bush a massive economic disaster (made even worse by the shocking 9/11 attacks), and Bush turned economic calamity into the longest consecutive period of job growth (52 straight months) in history.  In diametrical contradiction to all the lies that you have  heard from Democrats and from a mainstream media propaganda machine that often puts Joseph Goebbels to shame

What did George W. Bush do to deal with the necessary regulation and reform of these government-subsidized behemoths Fannie and Freddie?

Read what the New York Times said back in September 11, 2003:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10— The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

So Bush WANTED to regulate and reform the industry that would destroy the economy five years later, again, in contradiction to a blatantly dishonest and ideologically liberal and biased media.  Bush didn’t “refuse to regulate.”  Bush TRIED to provide the necessary regulatory steps that could have averted disaster.

And who blocked those regulations and reforms that Bush tried to provide?  None other than Barney Frank and his Democrat buddies:

These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,” Mr. Watt said.

Democrats blocked reform and regulation of Fannie and Freddie.  They threatened to filibuster any attempt at regulation and reform.  Meanwhile John McCain wrote a letter in 2006 urging reform and regulation of the GSEs.  He said:

Congress chartered Fannie and Freddie to provide access to home financing by maintaining liquidity in the secondary mortgage market. Today, almost half of all mortgages in the U.S. are owned or guaranteed by these GSEs. They are mammoth financial institutions with almost $1.5 Trillion of debt outstanding between them. With the fiscal challenges facing us today (deficits, entitlements, pensions and flood insurance), Congress must ask itself who would actually pay this debt if Fannie or Freddie could not?

And it came to pass exactly as John McCain warned.

Because of Democrats.  Who were virtually entirely to blame for the disaster that ensued as a result of their blocking of reform and regulation.

What did Democrats do with the mainstream media’s culpability?  They falsely dropped the crisis at the feet of “greedy” Wall Street.  But while examples of Wall Street greed abound, the liberal intelligentsia deliberately overlooked the central and preceding role of Democrat-dominated Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here’s how the mess actually happened:

The New York Times acknowledged that Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “buy mortgages from lenders and repackage them as securities or hold them in their own portfolios.”

And the Los Angeles Times on May 31, 1999 describes how this process turned into a bubble, as more begat more, and then more and more begat more and more and more:

Lenders also have opened the door wider to minorities because of new initiatives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the giant federally chartered corporations that play critical, if obscure, roles in the home finance system. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders and bundle them into securities; that provides lenders the funds to lend more. . . .

In a nutshell, Fannie and Freddie, in their role as Government Sponsored Enterprises, bought tens of millions of mortgages, and then repackaged them into huge mortgage-backed securities that giant private entities such as Bear Stearns, AIG and Lehman Brothers purchased.  What made these securities particularly attractive to the private banking entities was that these securities were essentially being sold – and had the backing – of the United States government.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, again, are Government Sponsored Enterprises.

Here’s the process:

The Role of the GSEs is to provide liquidity and stability to the U.S. housing and mortgage markets. Step 1 Banks lend money to Households to purchase and refinance home mortgages Step 2 The GSEs purchase these mortgage from the banks Step 3 GSEs bundle the mortgages into mortgage-backed securities Step 4 GSEs sell mortgage-backed and debt securities to domestic and international capital investors Step 5 Investors pay GSEs for purchase of debt and securities Step 6 GSEs return funds to banks to lend out again for the issuance of new mortgage loans.

Now, any intelligent observer should note a primary conflict that amounts to a fundamental hypocritical contradiction: the GSE’s role was to “provide stability,” and yet at the same time they were taking on “significantly more risk” in the final year of the Clinton presidency.  What’s wrong with this picture?

The GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were designed to bundle up the mortgages into mortgage backed securities and then sell them to the private market.

Fannie Mae is exempt from SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] regulation. Which screams why Bush wanted to regulate them.  This allowed Fannie Mae to bundle up mortgages, which were then rated AAA with no requirement to make clear what is in the bundle.  Which screams why Bush wanted to regulate them.

This is what allowed the toxic instruments that have been sold across the world to proliferate.  And then to explode.  It also created a situation where money institutions did not know and could not find out whether potential inter-bank business partners were holding these “boiled babies on their books, complete with a golden stamp on the wrapping,” rather than safe instruments.  This then inclined banks to a natural caution, to be wary of lending good money to other banks against these ‘assets’.  And thus banks refused to lend to one another.

And it was Democrats, not Bush, and not Republicans, who were all over this disaster that destroyed our economy in 2008.

We were led by a pathologically dishonest media to believe that Republicans had created this mess, when it fact it had been Democrats.  And so we gave the very fools who destroyed our economy total power.

And what have they done in the two years since?

They made bad far, far worse.

Barney Frank And Democrat Party Most Responsible For 2008 Economic Collapse

August 10, 2010

I don’t want to ridicule Barney Frank on account of his weight.  Suffice it to say he is easily able to pull off the two faces he routinely wears, and the two sides he routinely takes.

Here’s the recent side of Barney Frank:

Frank: “well one of my biggest differences with the Bush administration, even with the Clinton administration, was that they overdid that. I have always been critical of this effort to equate a decent home with home ownership. I think we should have been doing more to provide rental housing, my efforts have been to try and get affordable rental housing I was very much in disagreement with this push into home ownership and I think the federal government should not be artificially doing that. The goal is for people to have decent housing and I think beginning in the Clinton administration, exacerbated by Bush, we pushed people too much into home ownership…”
– Barney Frank, May 20, ‘2010 on CNBC.

And here’s Frank from 2005 documenting the fact that Barney Frank in 2010 is a rank liar:

“This is a very important resolution, particularly at this time, because we have, I think, an excessive degree of concern right now about home ownership and its role in the economy.
Obviously, speculation is never a good thing. But those who argue that housing prices are now at the point of a bubble seem to be missing a very important point. Unlike previous examples, where substantial excessive inflation of prices later caused some problems, we are talking here about an entity, home ownership, homes, where there is not the degree of leverage that we have seen elsewhere.

This is not the dot-com situation. We had problems with people having invested in business plans for which there was no reality and people building fiber-optic cable for which there was no need. Homes that are occupied may see an ebb and flow in the price at a certain percentage level, but you will not see the collapse that you see when people talk about a bubble.

So those of us on our committee in particular will continue to push for home ownership.
– Barney Frank, 2005

link
Video Link

[I found these quotes at US Politics Online].

You’re right, Barney.  It wasn’t the Dot-com situation.  It was a hundred times WORSE than the Dot-com situation, even given as bad as the Dot-com bubble was.  And yeah, you sure were right when you said there wouldn’t be a collapse, weren’t you?

So first of all, we have Barney Frank – liberal Democrat par excellence – acknowledging that the bad policy that led to the mortgage market meltdown was actually a CLINTON policy that Bush merely continued (most likely because he knew he’d be called a “racist” the moment he ended a program that gave billions of dollars to minorities to buy homes they couldn’t afford).

From the New York Times, September 30, 1999:

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

It’s beyond asinine that Democrats blame Bush for ruining the economy, and praise Clinton as having the mostest wonderfulest economy ever, when it was a Clinton program that ruined the Bush economy.  But that’s the mainstream media narrative for you.

It’s ironic that Frank in hindsight so laughably compared the housing mortgage bubble that brought down the economy in 2008 to the Dot-com bubble that brought down the economy just as Clinton was leaving office.  Because that’s TWO giant economy-killers that “Mister Wonderful Clinton” inflicted on George Bush.  The Clinton-era Dot-com crash ultimately destroyed 78% of the Nasdaq composite.  Clinton benefited with a huge market surge, and Bush paid with a huge market collapse that began taking place while the handprint on the Bible from Bush’s oath of office was still warm.

So Barney Frank reminds us that the destruction of the Bush economy was bookended by massive Clinton failures – the Dot-com bubble collapse in 2001 and the housing market bubble collapse in 2008.  And Clinton was never blamed for either of them by the propagandist mainstream media.

The second thing you can notice is that Democrats like Barney Frank – who were so quick to pounce all over the mortgage meltdown and blame Bush for it – were not only the ones who created the problem, but were the ones who defended the problem.

What’s the Democrat-mainstream media-created narrative for why we had the 2008 collapse?  Republicans refusing to regulate?  Read what the New York Times said back in September 11, 2003:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10— The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

So Bush WANTED to regulate, in contradiction to all the lies that you heard.

And who blocked those regulations?  Omigosh, it was Barney Frank and his Democrats.

These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,” Mr. Watt said.

You would find if you bothered to look at the facts that Bush demanded reform and regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac SEVENTEEN TIMES during his presidency.  And that Democrats refused to regulate the GSEs and even threatened filibusters against regulation.  Not that the mainstream media is honest enough to report the truth.

You would find if you bothered to look at the facts that financial experts literally predicted that the Clinton-birthed Fannie and Freddie expansion would ultimately explode.

Again from the New York Times, September 30, 1999:

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.”

What do we have, even in the pages of the New York Slimes?  A prediction that as soon as the economy cooled off, the mortgage market wold explode like a depth charge and the government would have to step in to prevent a catastrophe?  From a Clinton program?

The same man – Peter Wallison – who had predicted the disaster from 1999 wrote a September 23, 2008 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Blame Fannie Mae and Congress For the Credit Mess.”

The New York Times acknowledged that Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “buy mortgages from lenders and repackage them as securities or hold them in their own portfolios.”

And the Los Angeles Times on May 31, 1999 describes how this process turned into a bubble, as more begat more, and then more and more begat more and more and more:

Lenders also have opened the door wider to minorities because of new initiatives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the giant federally chartered corporations that play critical, if obscure, roles in the home finance system. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders and bundle them into securities; that provides lenders the funds to lend more. . . .

In a nutshell, Fannie and Freddie, acting as Government sponsored enterprises, bought tens of millions of mortgages, and then repackaged them into huge mortgage-backed securities that giant private entities such as Bear Stearns, AIG and Lehman Brothers purchased.  What made these securities particularly attractive to the private banking entities was that these securities were essentially being sold – and had the backing – of the United States government.

Here’s the process:

The Role of the GSEs is to provide liquidity and stability to the U.S. housing and mortgage markets. Step 1 Banks lend money to Households to purchase and refinance home mortgages Step 2 The GSEs purchase these mortgage from the banks Step 3 GSEs bundle the mortgages into mortgage-backed securities Step 4 GSEs sell mortgage-backed and debt securities to domestic and international capital investors Step 5 Investors pay GSEs for purchase of debt and securities Step 6 GSEs return funds to banks to lend out again for the issuance of new mortgage loans.

Now, an intelligent observer would note a conflict: the GSE’s role was to “provide stability,” and yet they were taking on “significantly more risk” in the final year of the Clinton presidency.  What’s wrong with this picture?

The GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were designed to bundle up the mortgages into mortgage backed securities and then sell them to the private market.

Fannie Mae is exempt from SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] regulation. Which screams why Bush wanted to regulate them.  This allowed Fannie Mae to bundle up mortgages, which were then rated AAA with no requirement to make clear what is in the bundle.  Which screams why Bush wanted to regulate them.

This is what has allowed toxic instruments that have been sold across the world.  It also created a situation where money institutions did not know and could not find out whether potential inter-bank business partners were holding these “boiled babies on their books, complete with a golden stamp on the wrapping,” rather than safe instruments.  This then inclined banks to a natural caution, to be wary of lending good money to other banks against these ‘assets’.  And thus banks refused to lend to one another.

John McCain wrote a letter in 2006 urging reform and regulation of the GSEs.  He said:

Congress chartered Fannie and Freddie to provide access to home financing by maintaining liquidity in the secondary mortgage market. Today, almost half of all mortgages in the U.S. are owned or guaranteed by these GSEs. They are mammoth financial institutions with almost $1.5 Trillion of debt outstanding between them. With the fiscal challenges facing us today (deficits, entitlements, pensions and flood insurance), Congress must ask itself who would actually pay this debt if Fannie or Freddie could not?

An of course, they could not pay their debts.  Fannie and Freddie basically went bankrupt and were taken over.  And they took a whopping share of the biggest financial institutions down with them.  Fannie is in the process of devouring nearly 400 billion dollars of bailout money from the American taxpayer.  And now – GREAT GOOGLEY MOOGLEYObama is planning to funnel yet another $800 BILLION through the same Fannie and Freddie who already destroyed us once.

And thus you had a financial disaster created by one William Jefferson Clinton and one Democrat Party.  And now a second act of economic destruction is being planned by Barack Obama.

The 2008 economic collapse that Democrats were elected to fix was itself created by Democrats who will now continue the very policies that created the disaster in the first place.

Democrats then demonized Bush for merely being there when the disaster happened.  When they had created the mess, and when they had refused to allow Bush to do anything to prevent a Democrat-created disaster that he and other Republicans saw coming, but ultimately lacked the courage to stop.

Michelle Obama Tries New Tact: ‘Okay, DON’T Let Them Eat Cake!’

May 17, 2010

We’re all familiar with the quote attributed to Marie Antoinette: “Let them eat cake.”  The phrase represents one who is at once out of touch and uncaring about the plight of the lower classes.

Well, Michelle Obama is every bit as out of touch as Marie Antoinette ever was.  But she’s a wily out-of-touch elitist, she is.

So she’s not going to make the same mistake as her famous French predecessor.  No, she’s going to make the exact opposite mistake.

So it’s “Don’t LET them eat cake.”

You stupid, moronic proletariat.  You are ontologically so far below Michelle Obama and her ilk that you don’t even qualify to call yourselves the same species.  How DARE you think that you have either the right or the ability to make eating decisions for yourself and your family???

How DARE you believe that you should have any right whatsoever to make your own life choices, you “nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents,” you.  So please insert the scalpel and disconnect your frontal lobes so that Mrs. “America is just downright mean!” make your basic life choices for you.

And whatever else you do, stop being proud of your vile, evil, greedy country.  Not only should you not get to eat, but you should be ashamed of yourselves for eating the few crumbs Dear Leader allows your family to stuff their faces with.

From ATR:

Perhaps it’s time for ATR to start asking First Ladies to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Michelle Obama has embarked upon a well-documented campaign to tackle childhood obesity in America. As with similar social initiatives, it begins with the noblest of intentions only to morph into another big government program funded by new taxes aimed at behavior modification.

I won’t dispute that obesity is a problem in this country, nor that children are better off living healthy, active lives. What I do find troubling is the Task Force on Childhood Obesity‘s report calling for, among other things, a study of the impact of higher food taxes on obesity:

The task force also sees a potential pocketbook approach to keep people from buying unhealthy foods. It calls for analyzing the effect of imposing state and local sales taxes on less healthy products.

This is becoming an unwelcome refrain within the Obama Administration. The stimulus package signed into law in February contained hundreds of millions of dollars in spending to expressly advocated for tax increases. It’s also an established trend for left-of-center causes like the Campaign for Tobacoo Free Kids: Start with a good purpose, but slowly evolve into a platform for command-and-control economic policies.

I can agree that underage smoking and childhood obesity are problematic and should be curtailed. But government intervention into our lives, via high taxes and excessive regulation, is certainly not the answer. Rather than allowing people to make their own choices with regards to diet and exercise, the First Lady’s anti-obesity effort seems to be predicated on a reliable staple of the liberal playbook: government coercion.

As someone who was once on the very poor side, I can tell Michelle Obama and her fellow band of disconnected liberal whackjobs something that they don’t know: one of the reasons that poor people buy unhealthy foods is that they are a LOT cheaper than the healthy foods.  Go look at the fresh healthy nutritious foods and then compare them to the sugary and high-calorie foods.

It is expensive to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.  And boy is it ever expensive to eat fresh fish, as compared with regular ground beef.  From my experience, eating “healthy” costs at least double eating “unhealthy.”

Michelle Obama’s braindead solution to our problems is to raise the taxes on the only foods a lot of poor families can barely afford.

She’s not as bad as Marie Antoinette was, she’s in fact much WORSE.  Marie just said something stupid that didn’t actually hurt anyone.  Michelle Obama is seeking to implement policies that will directly hurt people.

The point is that Michelle Obama is ostensibly saying the exact opposite thing that Marie Antoinette infamously said when she now says, “Don’t LET them eat cake.”  But it is the same warped, disconnected, out-of-touch and uncaring statement from the same sort of elitist.

And just to add to the hypocrisy and chutzpah, even as Michelle is talking about taxing the hell out of anything she deems unhealthy, Barack Obama is in Buffalo porking out on a dozen buffalo wings, french fries, and onion rings.  And did I mention that they Hypocrite-in-Chief still smokes?  Because, again, you see, only THESE people get to decide what is healthy and what isn’t, and what they should be allowed to have, and what they shouldn’t.

AEI Article: How Fannie And Freddie Blew Up The Economy

January 23, 2010

Below is a very good article that everyone should read to better understand why the economy imploded in 2008: it was as a result of literally decades of risky and in frankly socialist decisions implemented primarily by GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But allow me to say a few words before getting to the full article.

I compiled the following to respond to the typical liberal charge that “the economic collapse in 2008 was Bush’s fault”:

The Democrat Party/lamestream media narrative is that Bush was responsible for the economic meltdown because it “happened during his watch.” There was never once a mention that it happened during Nancy Pelosi’s and Harry Reid’s watch. Because that particular narrative doesn’t fit their leftist agenda.

I can very easily explain why Democrats were the primary cause of the 2008 collapse.

I can even give you the story in video, namely an 11 minute video titled “Burning Down the House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis?”

Or how about watching John Stossel explain what happened in a 5 1/2 minute ABC 20/20 piece?

Do you really want to know the true origins of the financial collapse? Then please do a little reading and start learning. The mortgage market collapsed in 2008 because of its biggest player: Fannie Mae, which held some 60% of the mortgages. And Democrats were entirely behind the policies that led to the collapse of Fannie Mae and the private mortgage industry that bought Fannie’s mortgage-backed securities. Investors were falsely led to believe that the bonds they were buying were guaranteed implicitly by the federal government.

Here are the words of Mortimer Zuckerman – a liberal, an Obama supporter, a billionaire, a trustee of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the owner of a couple major news sources:

What about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that got there with the support of the Democrats in Congress. That’s what kicked off the great housing bubble; that’s what started this whole thing rolling down the hill. Did they ever talk about that kind of excess in the congress? No…..this isn’t something that is just due to the “Wall Street community”.

George Bush called for reform of the housing finance market 17 times in 2008 alone — and Democrats ignored him. They had been blocking his every effort to prevent disaster ever since Bush first tried to do so beginning in 2003. At that time, Democrat Barney Frank led the effort to block reform, saying:

These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

George Bush and John McCain repeatedly warned that if we didn’t address the situation, we would suffer a financial collapse.

John McCain wrote an urgent letter in 2006 that read:

These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform. For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs—and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns.

In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay. I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

John McCain signed another letter that ended with these words:

With the fiscal challenges facing us today (deficits, entitlements, pensions and flood insurance), Congress must ask itself who would actually pay this debt if Fannie or Freddie could not?

Substantial testimony calling for improved regulation of the GSEs has been provided to the Senate by the Treasury, Federal Reserve, HUD, GAO, CBO, and others. Congress has the opportunity to recommit itself to the housing mission of the GSEs while at the same time making sure the GSEs operate in a manner that does not expose our financial system, or taxpayers, to unnecessary risk. It is vitally important that Congress take the necessary steps to ensure that these institutions benefit from strong and independent regulatory supervision, operate in a safe and sound manner, and are primarily focused on their statutory mission. More importantly, Congress must ensure that the American taxpayer is protected in the event either GSE should fail. We strongly support an effort to schedule floor time this year to debate GSE regulatory reform.

And they DID fail. They massively, massively failed.

Only about a month before the whole system crashed, Barney Frank went on the record and said this:

REP. BARNEY FRANK, D-MASS.: “I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward.”

They sure were, you fat, miserable, loathsome, obscene, disgusting, slobbering, lying toad.

The top three headlines under the Google search “Fannie Mae collapse”:

Freddie, Fannie Scam Hidden in Broad Daylight

Financial Markets Reeling from Fannie & Freddie Collapse and Evitable Government Bailout

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Too big not to fail

But as our economy exploded along with the boondoggle housing finance market artificially sustained by Fannie and Freddie, the Democrats demagogued the Republicans. And the lamestream media duly reported it as though it were all the liberal’s-god-socialist-big-government’s truth.

So to answer your question, it was DEMOCRATS who led us into this mess. Just as it is DEMOCRATS who are now making the mess far worse.

I would point out in addition that Republicans deserve condemnation because they lacked the political courage and the political will to oppose enormously risky Democrat policies rather than face the demagoguery that they were “racist” for not allowing low-income minorities to own their own homes.  So they allowed the Democrats to keep expanding the Community Reinvestment Act, and allowed them to keep expanding the portfolio of Government Supported Enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The following AEI article from Peter Wallison and Charles Calomiris is also available as a PDF file.

The Last Trillion-Dollar Commitment
The Destruction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By Peter J. Wallison, Charles W. Calomiris  |  AEI Online
(September 2008)

The government takeover of Fannie and Freddie was necessary because of their massive losses on more than $1 trillion of subprime and Alt-A investments.

The government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was necessary because of their massive losses on more than $1 trillion of subprime and Alt-A investments, almost all of which were added to their single-family book of business between 2005 and 2007. The most plausible explanation for the sudden adoption of this disastrous course–disastrous for them and for the U.S. financial markets–is their desire to continue to retain the support of Congress after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004 and the challenges to their business model that ensued. Although the strategy worked–Congress did not adopt strong government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform legislation until the Republicans demanded it as the price for Senate passage of a housing bill in July 2008–it led inevitably to the government takeover and the enormous junk loan losses still to come.

Now that the federal government has been required to take effective control of Fannie and Freddie and to decide their fate, it is important to understand the reasons for their financial collapse–what went wrong and why. In his statement on September 7 announcing the appointment of a conservator for the two enterprises, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson pointed to their failed business models as the reason for their collapse. This was certainly a contributing element, but not the direct cause. The central problem was their dependence on Congress for continued political support in the wake of their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004. To curry favor with Congress, they sought substantial increases in their support of affordable housing, primarily by investing in risky and substandard mortgages between 2005 and 2007.

As GSEs, Fannie and Freddie were serving two masters in two different ways. The first was an inherent conflict between their government mission and their private ownership. The government mission required them to keep mortgage interest rates low and to increase their support for affordable housing. Their shareholder ownership, however, required them to fight increases in their capital requirements and regulation that would raise their costs and reduce their risk-taking and profitability. But there were two other parties–Congress and the taxpayers–that also had a stake in the choices that Fannie and Freddie made. Congress got some benefits in the form of political support from the GSEs’ ability to hold down mortgage rates, but it garnered even more political benefits from GSE support for affordable housing. The taxpayers got highly attenuated benefits from both affordable housing and lower mortgage rates but ultimately faced enormous liabilities associated with GSE risk-taking. This Outlook tells the disheartening story of how the GSEs sold out the taxpayers by taking huge risks on substandard mortgages, primarily to retain congressional support for the weak regulation and special benefits that fueled their high profits and profligate executive compensation. As if that were not enough, in the process, the GSEs’ operations promoted a risky subprime mortgage binge in the United States that has caused a worldwide financial crisis.

The special relationship with Congress was the GSEs’ undoing because it allowed them to escape the market discipline–the wariness of lenders–that keeps corporate managements from taking unacceptable risks.

The peculiar structure of the GSEs–shareholder-owned companies with a public mission–reflected a serious confusion of purpose on the part of the Lyndon Johnson administration and the members of Congress who created this flawed structure in 1968. In seeking to reduce the budget deficits associated with the Vietnam War and Great Society programs, the administration hit upon the idea of “privatizing” Fannie Mae by allowing the company to sell shares to the public. This, according to the budget theories of the time, would take Fannie’s expenditures off-budget, while allowing it to continue its activities with funds borrowed in the public credit markets. But turning Fannie into a wholly private company was not acceptable either. Various special provisions were placed in Fannie’s congressional charter that intentionally blurred the line between a public instrumentality and a private corporation. Among these provisions: Fannie was given a line of credit at the Treasury; the president could appoint five members of its board of directors; and its debt could be used, like Treasury debt, to collateralize government deposits in private banks.

Fannie’s congressional charter and its unusual ties to the government ensured that the market would recognize its status as a government instrumentality: that despite its private ownership, the company was performing a government mission. Because it was highly unlikely that the U.S. government would allow one of its instrumentalities to default on its obligations, Fannie was perceived in the capital markets to have at least an implicit government backing and was thus able to borrow funds at rates that were only slightly higher than those paid by the U.S. Treasury on its own debt offerings. In 1970, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board created Freddie Mac to assist federal savings and loan associations in marketing their mortgages; Freddie was also allowed to sell shares to the public in 1989 and became a competitor of Fannie Mae under a congressional charter that established an identical special relationship with the government.

The special relationship, codified by these unique charters, required the GSEs to pursue another inherently conflicted mission that pitted their shareholders against the taxpayers. To the extent that their government backing allowed the GSEs to take excessive financial risks, it was the taxpayers and not the shareholders who would ultimately bear the costs. That result–the privatization of profit and the socialization of risk–has now come to pass. U.S. taxpayers are now called upon to fill in the hole that reckless and improvident investment activity–fueled by inexpensive and easily accessible funds–has created in the GSEs’ balance sheets. The special relationship was also the GSEs’ undoing, because it allowed them to escape the market discipline–the wariness of lenders–that keeps corporate managements from taking unacceptable risks. Normally, when a privately held company is backed by the government (for example, in the case of commercial banks covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), regulation is the way that the government protects the taxpayers against the loss of market discipline. When Fannie Mae was privatized in 1968, however, no special regulatory structure was created to limit the taxpayers’ exposure to loss. The Johnson administration officials who structured the privatization may not have realized that they were creating what we recognize today as a huge moral hazard, but when Fannie became insolvent (the first time) in the high-interest-rate environment of the early 1980s, policymakers recognized that the company represented a potential risk to taxpayers.

In 1991, as Congress finally began the process of developing a regulatory regime for the GSEs, congressional interest in supporting affordable housing was growing. At this point, Fannie Mae initiated its first foray into affordable housing–a relatively small $10 billion program, probably intended to show Congress that the GSEs would support affordable housing without a statutory mandate. Nevertheless, Congress added an affordable housing “mission” to the GSE charters when it created their first full-time regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). The new agency had only limited regulatory authority. It was also housed in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which had no regulatory experience, and it was funded by congressional appropriations, allowing the GSEs to control their regulator through the key lawmakers who held OFHEO’s purse strings.

The new affordable housing mission further increased the congressional policy stake in the GSEs, but it also initiated a destructive mutual dependency: Congress began to rely on Fannie and Freddie for political and financial support, and the two GSEs relied on Congress to protect their profitable special privileges. In later years, attention to the political interests of Congress became known at the GSEs as “management of political risk.” In a speech to an investor conference in 1999, Franklin Raines, then Fannie’s chairman, assured them that “[w]e manage our political risk with the same intensity that we manage our credit and interest rate risks.”[1]

Benefits to Congress

Managing their political risk required the GSEs to offer Congress a generous benefits package. Campaign contributions were certainly one element. Between the 2000 and 2008 election cycles, the GSEs and their employees contributed more than $14.6 million to the campaign funds of dozens of senators and representatives, most of them on committees that were important to preserving the GSEs’ privileges.[2] And Fannie knew how to “leverage” its giving, not just its assets; often it enlisted other groups that profited from the GSEs’ activities–the securities industry, homebuilders, and realtors–to sponsor their own fundraising events for the GSEs’ key congressional friends. In addition to campaign funds, the GSEs–Fannie Mae in particular–enhanced their power in Congress by setting up “partnership offices” in the districts and states of important lawmakers, often hiring the relatives of these lawmakers to staff the local offices. Their lobbying activities were legendary. Between 1998 and 2008, Fannie spent $79.5 million and Freddie spent $94.9 million on lobbying Congress, making them the twentieth and thirteenth biggest spenders, respectively, on lobbying fees during that period.[3] Not all of these expenditures were necessary to contact members of Congress; the GSEs routinely hired lobbyists simply to deprive their opponents of lobbying help. Since lobbyists are frequently part of lawmakers’ networks–and are often former staffers for the same lawmakers–these lobbying expenditures also encouraged members of Congress to support Fannie and Freddie as a means of supplementing the income of their friends.

The failure to adopt meaningful GSE reform in 2005 was a crucial missed opportunity.

In the same vein, Fannie and Freddie hired dozens of Washington’s movers and shakers–at spectacular levels of compensation–to sit on their boards, lobby Congress, and in general help them to manage their political risk. (An early account of this effort was an article entitled “Crony Capitalism: American Style” that appeared in The International Economy in 1999.[4] A later version of the same point was made in Investor’s Business Daily nine years later.[5]) The GSEs also paid for academic research to assure the public that the GSE mission was worthwhile and that the GSEs posed minimal risks to taxpayers. For example, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz coauthored an article in 2002 purporting to show that the risk of GSE default producing taxpayer loss was “effectively zero.”[6]

One of the most successful efforts to influence lawmakers came through community groups. Both Fannie and Freddie made “charitable” or other gifts to community groups, which could then be called upon to contact the GSEs’ opponents in Congress and protest any proposed restrictions on the activities or privileges of the GSEs. GSE supporters in Congress could also count on these groups to back them in their reelection efforts.

But these activities, as important as they were in managing the GSEs’ political risks, paled when compared to the billions of dollars the GSEs made available for spending on projects in the congressional districts and states of their supporters. Many of these projects involved affordable housing. In 1994, Fannie Mae replaced its initial $10 billion program with a $1 trillion affordable housing initiative, and both Fannie and Freddie announced new $2 trillion initiatives in 2001.[7] It is not clear to what extent the investments made in support of these commitments were losers–the GSEs’ profitability over many years could cover a multitude of sins–but it is now certain that the enormous losses associated with the risky housing investments appearing on Fannie and Freddie’s balance sheet today reflect major and imprudent investments in support of affordable housing between 2005 and 2007–investments that ultimately brought about the collapse of Fannie and Freddie.

Even if the earlier affordable housing projects were not losers, however, they represented a new and extra-constitutional way for Congress to dispense funds that should otherwise have flowed through the appropriations process. In one sense, the expenditures were a new form of earmark, but this earmarking evaded the constitutional appropriations process entirely. An illustration is provided by a press release from the office of Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the most ardent supporters of the GSEs in Congress. The headline on the release, dated November 20, 2006–right in the middle of the GSEs’ affordable housing spending spree–was “Schumer Announces up to $100 Million Freddie Mac Commitment to Address Fort Drum and Watertown Housing Crunch.” The subheading continued: “Schumer Unveils New Freddie Mac Plan with HSBC That Includes Low-Interest Low-Downpayment Loans. In June, Schumer Urged Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Step Up to the Plate and Deliver Concrete Plans–Today Freddie Mac Is Following Through.”[8] If this project had been economically profitable for Fannie or Freddie, Schumer would not have had to “urge” them to “step up.” Instead, using his authority as a powerful member of the Senate Banking Committee–and a supporter of Fannie and Freddie–he appears to have induced Freddie Mac to make a financial commitment that was very much in his political interests but for which the taxpayers of the United States would ultimately be responsible.

Of course, Schumer was only one of many members of Congress who used his political leverage to further his own agenda at taxpayer expense and outside the appropriations process. The list of friends of Fannie and Freddie changed over time; while the GSEs enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the 1990s, over the past decade, they have become increasingly aligned with the Democrats. This shift in the political equilibrium was especially clear in the congressional reaction to the GSEs’ accounting scandals of 2003 and 2004.

The Accounting Scandals

Fannie and Freddie reaped significant benefits from the careful management of their political risk. In June 2003, in the wake of the failures of Enron and WorldCom, Freddie’s board of directors suddenly dismissed its three top officers and announced that the company’s accountants had found serious problems in Freddie’s financial reports. In 2004, after a forensic audit by OFHEO, even more serious accounting manipulation was found at Fannie, and Raines, its chairman, and Timothy Howard, its chief financial officer, were compelled to resign.

It is eloquent testimony to the power of Fannie and Freddie in Congress that even after these extraordinary events there was no significant effort to improve or enhance the powers of their regulator. The House Financial Services Committee developed a bill that was so badly weakened by GSE lobbying that the Bush administration refused to support it. The Senate Banking Committee, then under Republican control, adopted much stronger legislation in 2005, but unanimous Democratic opposition to the bill in the committee doomed it when it reached the floor. Without any significant Democratic support, debate could not be ended in the Senate, and the bill was never brought up for a vote. This was a crucial missed opportunity. The bill prohibited the GSEs from holding portfolios of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities (MBS); that measure alone would have prevented the disastrous investment activities of the GSEs in the years that followed. GSE immunity to accounting scandal is especially remarkable when it is recalled that after accounting fraud was found at Enron (and later at WorldCom), Congress adopted the punitive Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which imposed substantial costs on every public company in the United States. The GSEs’ investment in controlling their political risk–at least among the Democrats–was apparently money well spent.

Nevertheless, the GSEs’ problems were mounting quickly. The accounting scandal, although contained well below the level of the Enron story, gave ammunition to GSE critics inside and outside of Congress. Alan Greenspan, who in his earlier years as Federal Reserve chairman had avoided direct criticism of the GSEs, began to cite the risks associated with their activities in his congressional testimony. In a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee in February 2004, Greenspan noted for the first time that they could have serious adverse consequences for the economy. Referring to the management of interest rate risk–a key risk associated with holding portfolios of mortgages or MBS–he said:

To manage this risk with little capital requires a conceptually sophisticated hedging framework. In essence, the current system depends on the risk managers at Fannie and Freddie to do everything just right, rather than depending on a market-based system supported by the risk assessments and management capabilities of many participants with different views and different strategies for hedging risks.[9]

Then, and again for the first time, Greenspan proposed placing some limit on the size of the GSEs’ portfolios. Greenspan’s initial idea, later followed by more explicit proposals for numerical limits, was to restrict the GSEs’ issuance of debt. Although he did not call for an outright reduction in the size of the portfolios, limiting the issuance of debt amounts to the same thing. If the GSEs could not issue debt beyond a certain amount, they also could not accumulate portfolios. Greenspan noted:

Most of the concerns associated with systemic risks flow from the size of the balance sheets that these GSEs maintain. One way Congress could constrain the size of these balance sheets is to alter the composition of Fannie and Freddie’s mortgage financing by limiting the dollar amount of their debt relative to the dollar amount of mortgages securitized and held by other investors. . . . [T]his approach would continue to expand the depth and liquidity of mortgage markets through mortgage securitization but would remove most of the potential systemic risks associated with these GSEs.[10]

This statement must have caused considerable concern to Fannie and Freddie. Most of their profits came from issuing debt at low rates of interest and holding portfolios of mortgages and MBS with high yields. This was a highly lucrative arrangement; limiting their debt issuance would have had a significant adverse effect on their profitability.

In addition, in January 2005, only a few months after the adverse OFHEO report on Fannie’s accounting manipu-lation, three Federal Reserve economists published a study that cast doubt on whether the GSEs’ activities had any significant effect on mortgage interest rates and concluded further that holding portfolios–a far risker activity than issuing MBS–did not have any greater effect on interest rates than securitization: “We find that both portfolio purchases and MBS issuance have negligible effects on mortgage rate spreads and that purchases are not any more effective than securitization at reducing mortgage interest rate spreads.”[11] Thus, the taxpayer risks cited by Greenspan could not be justified by citing lower mortgage rates, and, worse, there was a strong case for limiting the GSEs to securitization activities alone–a much less profitable activity than holding MBS.

The events in 2003 and 2004 had undermined the legitimacy of the GSEs. They could no longer claim to be competently–or even honestly–managed. An important and respected figure, Alan Greenspan, was raising questions about whether they might be creating excessive risk for taxpayers and systemic risk for the economy as a whole. Greenspan had suggested that their most profitable activity–holding portfolios of mortgages and MBS–was the activity that created the greatest risk, and three Federal Reserve economists had concluded that the GSEs’ activities did not actually reduce mortgage interest rates. It was easy to see at this point that their political risk was rising quickly. The case for continuing their privileged status had been severely weakened. The only element of their activities that had not come under criticism was their affordable housing mission, and it appears that the GSEs determined at this point to play that card as a way of shoring up their political support in Congress.

From the perspective of their 2008 collapse, this may seem to have been unwise, but in the context of the time, it was a shrewd decision. It provided the GSEs with the potential for continuing their growth and delivered enormous short-term profits. Those profits were transferred to stockholders in huge dividend payments over the past three years (Fannie and Freddie paid a combined $4.1 billion in dividends last year alone) and to managers in lucrative salaries and bonuses. Indeed, if it had not been for the Democrats’ desire to adopt a housing relief bill before leaving for the 2008 August recess, no new regulatory regime for the GSEs would have been adopted at all. Only the Senate Republicans’ position–that there would be no housing bill without GSE reform–overcame the opposition of Senators Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), the banking committee chairman, and Schumer.

The GSEs’ confidence in the affordable housing idea was bolstered by what appears to be a tacit understanding. Occasionally, this understanding found direct expression. For example, in his opening statement at a hearing in 2003, Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), now the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, referred to an “arrangement” between Congress and the GSEs that tracks rather explicitly what actually happened: “Fannie and Freddie have played a very useful role in helping to make housing more affordable, both in general through leveraging the mortgage market, and in particular, they have a mission that this Congress has given them in return for some of the arrangements which are of some benefit to them to focus on affordable housing.”[12] So here the arrangement is laid out: if the GSEs focus on affordable housing, their position is secure.

Increased Support for Affordable Housing

Affordable housing loans and subprime loans are not synonymous. Affordable housing loans can be traditional prime loans with adequate down payments, fixed rates, and an established and adequate borrower credit history. In trying to increase their commitment to affordable housing, however, the GSEs abandoned these standards. In 1995, HUD, the cabinet-level agency responsible for issuing regulations on the GSEs’ affordable housing obligations, had ruled that the GSEs could get affordable housing credit for purchasing subprime loans. Unfortunately, the agency failed to require that these loans conform to good lending practices, and OFHEO did not have the staff or the authority to monitor their purchases. The assistant HUD secretary at the time, William Apgar, later told the Washington Post that “[i]t was a mistake. In hindsight, I would have done it differently.” Allen Fishbein, his adviser, noted that Fannie and Freddie “chose not to put the brakes on this dangerous lending when they should have.”[13] Far from it. In 1998, Fannie Mae announced a 97 percent loan-to-value mortgage, and, in 2001, it offered a program that involved mortgages with no down payment at all. As a result, in 2004, when Fannie and Freddie began to increase significantly their commitment to affordable housing loans, they found it easy to stimulate production in the private sector by letting it be known in the market that they would gladly accept loans that would otherwise be considered subprime.

Although Fannie and Freddie were building huge exposures to subprime mortgages from 2005 to 2007, they adopted accounting practices that made it difficult to detect the size of those exposures. Even an economist as seemingly sophisticated as Paul Krugman was misled. He wrote in his July 14, 2008, New York Times column that

Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending. . . . In fact, Fannie and Freddie, after growing rapidly in the 1990s, largely faded from the scene during the height of the housing bubble. . . . Partly that’s because regulators, responding to accounting scandals at the companies, placed temporary restraints on both Fannie and Freddie that curtailed their lending just as housing prices were really taking off. Also, they didn’t do any subprime lending, because they can’t . . . by law. . . . So whatever bad incentives the implicit federal guarantee creates have been offset by the fact that Fannie and Freddie were and are tightly regulated with regard to the risks they can take. You could say that the Fannie-Freddie experience shows that regulation works.[14]

Here Krugman demonstrates confusion about the law (which did not prohibit subprime lending by the GSEs), misunderstands the regulatory regime under which they operated (which did not have the capacity to control their risk-taking), and mismeasures their actual subprime exposures (which he wrongly states were zero). There is probably more to this than lazy reporting by Krugman; the GSE propaganda machine purposefully misled people into believing that it was keeping risk low and operating under an adequate prudential regulatory regime.

One of the sources of Krugman’s confusion may have been Fannie and Freddie’s strange accounting conventions relating to subprime loans. There are many defi-nitions of a subprime loan, but the definition used by U.S. bank regulators is any loan to a borrower with damaged credit, including such objective criteria as a FICO credit score lower than 660.[15] In their public reports, the GSEs use their own definitions, which purposely and significantly understate their commitment to subprime loans–the mortgages with the most political freight. For example, they disclose the principal amount of loans with FICO scores of less than 620, leaving the reader to guess how many loans fall into the category of subprime because they have FICO scores of less than 660. In these reports, too, Alt-A loans–which include loans with little or no income or other documentation and other deficiencies–are differentiated from subprime loans, again reducing the size of the apparent GSE commitment to the subprime category. These distinctions, however, are not very important from the perspective of realized losses in the subprime and Alt-A categories; loss rates are quite similar for both, even though they are labeled differently. In its June 30, 2008, Investor Summary report, Fannie notes that credit losses on its Alt-A portfolio were 49.6 percent of all the credit losses on its $2.7 trillion single-family loan book of business.[16] Fannie’s disclosures indicate that when all subprime loans (including Alt-A) are aggregated, at least 85 percent of its losses are related to its holdings of both subprime and Alt-A loans. They are all properly characterized as “junk loans.”

Beginning in 2004, after the GSEs’ accounting scandals, the junk loan share of all mortgages in the United States began to rise, going from 8 percent in 2003 to about 18 percent in 2004 and peaking at about 22 percent in the third quarter of 2006. It is likely that this huge increase in commitments to junk lending was largely the result of signals from Fannie and Freddie that they were ready to buy these loans in bulk. For example, in speeches to the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2004, both Raines and Richard Syron–the chairmen, respectively, of Fannie and Freddie–“made no bones about their interest in buying loans made to borrowers formerly considered the province of nonprime and other niche lenders.”[17] Raines is quoted as saying, “We have to push products and opportunities to people who have lesser credit quality.”

There are few data available publicly on the dollar amount of junk loans held by the GSEs in 2004, but according to their own reports, GSE purchases of these mortgages and MBS increased substantially between 2005 and 2007. Subprime and Alt-A purchases during this period were a higher share of total purchases than in previous years. For example, Fannie reported that mortgages and MBS of all types originated in 2005–2007 comprised 49.8 percent of its overall book of single-family mortgages, which includes both mortgages and MBS retained in their portfolio as well as mortgages they securitized and guaranteed. But the percentage of mortgages with subprime characteristics purchased during this period consistently exceeded 49.8 percent, demonstrating that Fannie was substantially increasing its reliance on junk loans between 2005 and 2007. For example, in its 10-Q Investor Summary report for the quarter ended June 30, 2008, Fannie reported that mortgages with subprime characteristics comprised substantial percentages of all 2005–2007 mortgages the company acquired, as shown in table 1. Based on these figures, it is likely that as much as 40 percent of the mortgages that Fannie Mae added to its single-family book of business during 2005–2007 were junk loans.

If we add up all these categories and eliminate double counting, it appears that on June 30, 2008, Fannie held or had guaranteed subprime and Alt-A loans with an unpaid principal balance of $553 billion. In addition, according to the same Fannie report, the company also held $29.5 billion of Alt-A loans and $36.3 billion of subprime loans that it had purchased as private label securities (non-GSE or Ginnie Mae securities).[18] These figures amount to a grand total of $619 billion–approximately 23 percent of Fannie’s book of single-family business on June 30, 2008–and reflect a huge commitment to the purchase of mortgages of questionable quality between 2005 and 2007.

Freddie Mac also published a report on its subprime and Alt-A mortgage exposures as of August 2008. Freddie’s numbers were not as detailed as Fannie’s, but the company reported that 52 percent of its entire single-family credit guarantee portfolio was from book years 2005–2007 (slightly more than Fannie) and that these mortgages had subprime characteristics, as shown in table 2. Based on these figures, it appears that as much as 40 percent of the loans that Freddie Mac added to its book of single-family mortgage business during 2005–2007 also consisted of junk loans.

Freddie’s disclosures did not contain enough detail to eliminate all of the double counting, so it is not possible to estimate the total amount of its subprime loans from the information it reported. Nevertheless, we can calculate the minimum amount of Freddie’s exposure. In the same report, Freddie disclosed that $190 billion of its loans were categorized as Alt-A and $68 billion had FICO credit scores of less than 620, so that they would clearly be categorized as subprime. Based on the limited information Freddie supplied, double counting of $7.6 billion can be eliminated, so that as of August 2008, Freddie held or had guaranteed at least $258 billion of junk loans. To this must be added $134 billion of subprime and Alt-A loans that Freddie purchased from private label issuers,[19] for a grand total of $392 billion–20 percent of Freddie’s single-family portfolio of $1.8 trillion.

A New Trillion-Dollar Commitment

Between 2005 and 2007, Fannie and Freddie acquired so many junk mortgages that, as of August 2008, they held or had guaranteed more than $1.011 trillion in unpaid principal balance exposures on these loans. The losses already recognized on these exposures were responsible for the collapse of Fannie and Freddie and their takeover by the federal government, and there are undoubtedly many more losses to come. In congressional testimony on September 23, James Lockhart, the director of their new regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, cited these loans as the source of the GSEs’ ultimate collapse, as reported in the Washington Post:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchased and guaranteed “many more low-documentation, low-verification and non-standard” mortgages in 2006 and 2007 “than they had in the past.” He said the companies increased their exposure to risks in 2006 and 2007 despite the regulator’s warnings.

Roughly 33 percent of the companies’ business involved buying or guaranteeing these risky mortgages, compared with 14 percent in 2005. Those bad debts on mortgages led to billions of dollars in losses at the firms. “The capacity to raise capital to absorb further losses without Treasury Department support vanished,” Lockhart said.[20]

Although a large share of the subprime loans now causing a crisis in the international financial markets are so-called private label securities–issued by banks and securitizers other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the two GSEs became the biggest buyers of the AAA tranches of these subprime pools in 2005-07.[21] Without their commitment to purchase the AAA tranches of these securitizations, it is unlikely that the pools could have been formed and marketed around the world. Accordingly, not only did the GSEs destroy their own financial condition with their excessive purchases of subprime loans in the three-year period from 2005 to 2007, but they also played a major role in weakening or destroying the solvency and stability of other financial institutions and investors in the United States and abroad.

Why Did They Do It?

Why did the GSEs follow this disastrous course? One explanation–advanced by Lockhart–is that Fannie and Freddie were competing for market share with the private label securitizers and had to purchase substantial amounts of subprime mortgages in order to retain their position in a growing market. Fannie and Freddie’s explanation is that they were the victims of excessively stringent HUD affordable housing goals. Neither of these explanations is plausible. For many years before 2004, Fannie and Freddie had followed relatively prudent investment strategies, even with respect to affordable housing, but they suddenly changed their approach in 2005. Freddie Mac’s report, for example, shows that the percentage of mortgages in its portfolio with subprime characteristics rose rapidly after 2004. Tables 1 and 2 show that for each category of mortgages with subprime characteristics, most of the portfolio of loans with those characteristics was acquired from 2005 to 2007. For example, 83.8 percent of Fannie’s and 90 percent of Freddie’s interest-only loans as of June 2008 were acquired from 2005 to 2007, and 57.5 percent of Fannie’s and 61 percent of Freddie’s loans with FICO scores of less than 620 as of June 2008 were acquired from 2005 to 2007. It seems unlikely that competing for market share or complying with HUD regulations–which contained no enforcement mechanism other than disclosure and delay in approving requests for mission expansions–could be the reason for such an obviously destructive course.

Instead, it seems likely that the event responsible for the GSEs’ change in direction and culture was the accounting scandal that each of them encountered in 2003 and 2004. In both cases, they lost their reputation as well-managed companies and began to encounter questions about their contribution to reducing mortgage rates and their safety and soundness. Serious observers questioned whether they should be allowed to continue to hold mortgages and MBS in their portfolios–by far their most profitable activity–and Senate Republicans moved a bill out of committee that would have prohibited this activity.

Under these circumstances, the need to manage their political risk became paramount, and this required them to prove to their supporters in Congress that they still served a useful purpose. In 2003, as noted above, Frank had cited an arrangement in which the GSEs’ congressional benefits were linked to their investments in affordable housing. In this context, substantially increasing their support for affordable housing–through the purchase of the subprime loans permitted by HUD–seems a logical and even necessary tactic.

Unfortunately, the sad saga of Fannie and Freddie is not over. Some of their supporters in Congress prefer to blame the Fannie and Freddie mess on deregulation or private market failure, perhaps hoping to use such false diagnoses to lay the groundwork for reviving the GSEs for extra constitutional expenditure and political benefit in the future. As the future of the GSEs is debated over the coming months and years, it will be important to remember how and why Fannie and Freddie failed. The primary policy objective should be to prevent a repeat of this disaster by preventing the restoration of the GSE model.

Peter J. Wallison (pwallison@aei.org) is the Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at AEI. Charles W. Calomiris (cc374@columbia.edu) is a visiting scholar at AEI and the Henry Kaufman Professor of Financial Institutions at Columbia Business School.

Messrs. Wallison and Calomiris wish to thank Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer of Fannie Mae, for his assistance in deciphering the GSEs’ descriptions of their mortgage exposures. AEI research assistant Karen Dubas worked with the authors to produce this Financial Services Outlook.

Download file Click here to view this Outlook as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Notes

1. Quoted in Niles Steven Campbell, “Fannie Mae Officials Try to Assuage Worried Investors,” Real Estate Finance Today, May 10, 1999. See also Binyamin Appelbaum, Carol D. Leonnig, and David S. Hilzenrath, “How Washington Failed to Rein In Fannie, Freddie,” Washington Post, September 14, 2008.

2. Common Cause, “Ask Yourself Why . . . They Didn’t See This Coming,” September 24, 2008, available at www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=4542875 (accessed September 29, 2008).

3. Center for Responsive Politics, “Lobbying: Top Spenders,” 2008, available at www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=s (accessed September 26, 2008).

4. Owen Ullmann, “Crony Capitalism: American Style,” The International Economy (July/August 1999): 6.

5. Terry Jones, “‘Crony’ Capitalism Is Root Cause of Fannie and Freddie Troubles,” Investor’s Business Daily, September 22, 2008.

6. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Jonathan M. Orszag, and Peter R. Orszag, “Implications of the New Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Risk-Based Capital Standard,” Fannie Mae Papers 1, no. 2 (March 2002), available at www.sbgo.com/Papers/fmp-v1i2.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008). Interestingly, Stiglitz today is an outspoken critic of GSE risk-taking. According to Stiglitz, GSE risk-taking was a predictable consequence of the structure of the GSEs and their financial structure and compensation schedules. “We should not be worried about [GSE] shareholders losing their investments. In earlier years, they were amply rewarded. The management remuneration packages that they approved were designed to encourage excessive risk-taking. They got what they asked for. Nor should we be worried about creditors losing their money. Their lack of supervision fuelled the housing bubble and we are now all paying the price.” (Joseph Stiglitz, “Fannie’s and Freddie’s Free Lunch,” Financial Times, July 24, 2008.)

7. Funding Universe, “Fannie Mae–Company History,” available at www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Fannie-Mae-Company-History.html (accessed September 29, 2008); Funding Universe, “Freddie Mac–Company History,” available at www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Freddie-Mac-Company-History.html (accessed September 29, 2008); and Business Wire, “Fannie Mae’s $2 Trillion ‘American Dream Commitment’ on Course with Over $190 Billion in Targeted Lending,” news release, March 14, 2001, avail-able at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2001_March_14/ai_71707186/ (accessed September 29, 2008).

8. Office of Senator Charles E. Schumer, “Schumer Announces up to $100 Million Freddie Mac Commitment to Address Fort Drum and Watertown Housing Crunch,” news release, November 20, 2006, available at www.senate.gov/~schumer/SchumerWebsite/pressroom/record.cfm?id=266131 (accessed September 29, 2008).

9. Alan Greenspan, “Proposals for Improving the Regulation of the Housing Government Sponsored Enterprises” (testimony, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, 108th Cong., 1st sess., February 24, 2004), available at www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/testimony/2004/20040224/ default.htm (accessed September 29, 2008).

10. Ibid.

11. Andreas Lehnert, Wayne Passmore, and Shane M. Sherlund, “GSEs, Mortgage Rates and Secondary Market Activities” (Finance and Economic Discussion Series 2005-07, Divisions of Research & Statistics and Monetary Affairs, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, DC, January 12, 2005), 1, available at www.federalreserve.gov/Pubs/feds/2005/200507/200507pap.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

12. Quoted in Gerald Prante, “Barney Frank on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003,” Tax Policy Blog, September 17, 2008, available at www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/23617.html (accessed September 29, 2008).

13. Carol D. Leonnig, “How HUD Mortgage Policy Fed the Crisis,” Washington Post, June 10, 2008.

14. Paul Krugman, “Fannie, Freddie and You,” New York Times, July 14, 2008.
15. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Reserve Board, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Thrift Supervision, “Expanded Guidance for Subprime Lending Programs,” 2001, available at www.federalreserve.gov/Boarddocs/SRletters/2001/sr0104a1.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

16. Fannie Mae, “2008 Q2 10-Q Investor Summary,” August 8, 2008, available at www.fanniemae.com/media/pdf/newsreleases/2008_Q2_10Q_Investor_Summary.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

17. Neil Morse, “Looking for New Customers,” Mortgage Banking, December 1, 2004.

18. Fannie Mae, “2008 Q2 10-Q Investor Summary,” 20.

19. Freddie Mac, “Freddie Mac Update,” August 2008, 30, available at www.freddiemac.com/investors/pdffiles/investor-presentation.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

20. Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Affordable-Housing Goals Scaled Back,” Washington Post, September 24, 2008.

21. James Lockhart, “Reforming the Regulation of the Government Sponsored Enterprises” (testimony, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, 110th Cong., 2nd sess., February 7, 2008), 6, available at www.ofheo.gov/media/testimony/2708LockharttestimonyWeb.pdf (accessed September 29, 2008).

The economic implosion of our economy due to Fannie and Freddie’s losses continues.  From an AP article published Friday, January 22:

The two companies, which have been run by the government since they almost collapsed in September 2008, have required $111 billion in federal aid to stay afloat. Late last year the Obama administration pledged to cover unlimited losses through 2012 for both companies, lifting an earlier cap of $400 billion.

The “unlimited losses” amounts to an EXPANSION from the $800 BILLION that Congress was going to authorize.  Which is even more than the $787 billion stimulus, which was the largest government outlay in the history of the human race until the black hole of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat it out.

It’s time to learn the truth.

VIA CNBC: ‘Many Firms Reluctant To Hire Because Of [Democrats’] Taxes, Rules’

January 13, 2010

Enjoy your unemployment, courtesy of the Obama administration.

And understand that the fact that you NEED unemployment is also courtesy of the Obama administration.

Is Obama helping the economy, or hurting it?  What we find out is that businesses and the people who actually hire and create jobs understand that what Obama has already done has been bad, and what he is trying to do is even worse.

The key phrase of the article is “paralyzing uncertainty.”

Obama, thy name is turd.  And according to Rasmussen, 53% of the American people now recognize it.

Many Firms Reluctant to Hire Because of New Taxes, Rules
Published: Tuesday, 12 Jan 2010
By: Albert Bozzo
Senior Features Editor

A potential wave of new regulation and higher taxes may be scaring many businesses from hiring, prolonging any rebound in employment, say business groups and economists.

The prospect of increased federal and state regulation and taxes has been particularly disruptive to the hiring plans of small- and medium-sized businesses, which have historically generated about two-thirds of the nation’s jobs.

“I don’t really see the private sector hiring much in the next few months,” says Brian Bethune, an economist at Global Insight. “For the small-business sector there is just too much uncertainty about what happens beyond 2010.”

Not only is the Obama administration seeking to push through major overhauls of energy and health care policy, it is also expected to impose dozens of new workplace rules and raise income taxes.

As Washington and Wall Street grow increasingly restless about the unusually slow pace of job creation and the risk of a so-called jobless recovery, key business groups have begun to bang the drum more loudly.

In reporting that its small business optimism index fell for the second straight month in December, the National Federation of Independent Business Tuesday said members’ No. 2 reason for not expanding payrolls was the prospect of government policy initiatives.

Twelve percent said it was not a good time to expand because of the political environment. Over the next three months, 15 percent said they plan to reduce employment, while eight percent plan to create new jobs.

“We’re hearing it more and more from our membership,” says Bill Rys, the NFIB’s tax counsel. “At the federal level, there’s uncertainty about tax rates, health care costs, energy costs. You also have what’s going on at the state and local levels, with new fees and taxes. They’re reluctant to jump back in.”

Rys says the effect has been more pronounced in the past few months, perhaps mirroring the legislative progress of the massive health care reform bill, the highly-publicized Copenhagen climate change conference and new EPA rules on carbon emissions, as well as the approach of 2010, when the near decade-long Bush administration tax cuts are expected to expire.

The NFIB has some 350,000 members with an average size of eight to ten employees.

Much like the severity of the recession, the degree of potential government change is a historic first for many business owners.

“When they went into business this isn’t something they considered,” says Rys.

The American Chamber of Commerce’s latest economist forecast cited similar impediments.

“To create jobs we must ease the uncertainty over tax increases as well as health, environmental, labor, legal  and fiscal policies,” the group’s president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said in a speech Tuesday.

Chamber members are predominantly small companies with ten or less employees.

In a recent interview with CNBC.com, the group’s chief economist, Martin Regalia, described a paralyzing uncertainty over policy issues, saying that many members “had adopted an attitude of survival” and “few talked about net new hiring.”

If so, that will not go unnoticed. Small businesses were hemorrhaging jobs in the first quarter of 2009 when the recession was cutting deep into the economy.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, companies with 1-4 employees lost 140,000 jobs in that period; firms with 10-19 employees shed 220,000 jobs. (That’s the most recent period covered by the data.)

Some of those jobs as well as new ones would normally be created in the coming year.

Coming out of the previous two recessions, companies in the two groups were responsible for net job gains relatively soon after the downturn had ended and picked up momentum as the recovery was established.

In the third quarter of 1993, the 1-4-employee group created about 120,000 jobs, while the 14-20-person group added 60,000. That may not seem like a lot, but the workforce was much smaller then.

Near the peak of the last economic recovery, the two groups were combining for more than 140,000 jobs a quarter.

Though data for the past three quarters isn’t available, people who follow small- and medium- sized business say anecdotal evidence from owners is compelling

“A lot of small, medium sized businesses are waiting to see what health care is going to mean, in terms of cost,” says John Challenger, of the outplacement firm Challenger, Grey and Christmas, “I think they’re also waiting and seeing on the estate tax. The other one I hear the most about is the union issue—the worry that there could be much higher labor costs, that might curtail hiring.”

Amid the massive uncertainty, there are levels of certainty.

It’s unclear, for instance, what health care will cost small businesses, which tend not to provide it to employees. There’s talk of some kind of exemption, but it’s not clear yet.

The cost for those providing insurance will go up—at least in the short term; fees for health insurers, medical devices and branded drugs, for instance, start to kick in 2011 and work their way into the broader cost chain.

On another front, the Obama administration has said it intends to introduce some 90 new workplace rules this year.

Two thousand and ten may also bring the approval of cap-and-trade legislation, which given the complex scientific and economic models involved, will create another long list of question marks.

Changes in tax law are almost a certainty, even if the specifics are still unclear. The estate tax, which—as part of the Bush tax cut plan—is zero in 2011, is expected to be raised in future years and that change may even be made retroactive.

Income taxes for the two highest tax brackets are expected to rise; the Obama administration at various times has said taxes will be increased on people earning 200,000 or $250,000.

“When people talk about who’s making above $200,000, it tends to pull in a lot of small business people,” says Mark Calabria of the Cato Institute, a former senior staffer on the Senate Banking Committee.

Budget-strapped states have already raised taxes or intend to do so.

Unlike the complex tax structure of global corporations, there are few or any loopholes.

“If you are talking about the entrepreneurial class, they run a small business, have a handful of employees and they just report that as regular income,” adds Bethune.

Less income, more expenses—it’s hardly a prescription for expansion, says experts.

Small- and medium-sized business owners are still recovering from the real estate collapse and the credit crunch; it is not uncommon for them to use real estate as collateral or credit lines to make payroll.

On top of that, like big business, they’re still waiting for a return in demand

“It may mean you take less investment chances,” says Challenger. In that context, jobs are looking might chancy.”

Over the next three months, 15 percent said they plan to reduce employment, while eight percent plan to create new jobs.” There’s your practical definition of ‘one step forward, two steps back.'”

Less income, more expenses—it’s hardly a prescription for expansion.”  There’s your expression of common sense that Democrats will never comprehend.

Now, you might well be dumber than stupid, and continue to blame Bush for the economic collapse rather than placing much of the blame squarely on Democrats where it belongs, but the fact remains: Republicans have been saying this from day 1.  And they were right, and Democrats are being proven to be 100% wrong.

Obama’s claims of “shovel-ready jobs” should be greeted by hysterical mocking laughter, if only the man’s utter failure wasn’t creating so much misery and suffering.

We find that that the country’s that ignored Obama’s government stimulus mindset have done far, far better than the countries that paid attention to the community organizer.

Obama says “green jobs” are the answer.  But Obama is an idiot.

When you take the “National debt road trip,” you’ll find Obama driving the debt like a drunken, raving maniac.

Obama and the Democrats have also lied about damn near everything.

And the result of the Obama administration – from his opening porkulus to the present moment – is that he has done everything imaginable to drive employment down and the employment rate up.

The simple fact of the matter is that Obama – not Bush, Obama – has now presided over more jobs lost than any president since 1940.

And all our failure-in-chief can do is change an already sick twisted joke of a “job counting” system related to his stimulus (the category of “saved” jobs had NEVER existed prior to Obama inventing it as a self-marketing ploy – and the lamestream media revealed that they were dishonest propagandists by allowing the bogus category to be used on their airwaves).  Obama has finally abandoned the continuous campaign of lies and incompetence used to calculate how many jobs he “created or saved,” only to now embrace an even WORSE standard: from now on, Obama will take credit for any job that got any stimulus money at all.

So if you had your job before the Obama stimulus, and you would have had your job AFTER the Obama stimulus, if the place you work for got any stimulus money, Obama will claim credit for your job.

I’m sick of this man’s demagoguery.  I’m sick of his Bush-blaming.  I’m sick of his self-serving excuses.  I’m sick of his idiotic lies.

And I’m utterly heartsick at the massive damage this clown is doing to our country.

I got into blogging due to the revelations about the “reverend” and “church” that Obama chose to join and associate himself with for 23 years.  I had never been particularly involved with politics up to that time.  But as I watched hateful statement after hateful statement emerging from Obama’s church and from Obama’s pastor – to the cheering of the vile congregation – I knew that Barack Hussein was an evil man who would destroy this country if he were elected president.

And a year after his misrule, every single thing I feared when I saw Obama’s pastor spout evil, hateful, racist, unAmerican, Marxist filth back in March of 2008 has come true in spades.

Here’s The Kind Of Sane Government Regulation We Need To Bring To Health Care

September 30, 2009

Government regulation is the answer.  For everything.  And the more government, and the bigger the government, the better.

Every fool knows that.

And only fools.

State to mom: Stop baby-sitting neighbors’ kids

By JAMES PRICHARD, Associated Press Writer James Prichard, Associated Press Writer   – Tue Sep 29, 9:41 pm ET

IRVING TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood’s children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.

Regulators who oversee child care, however, don’t see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she’d be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers.

“I was freaked out. I was blown away,” she said. “I got on the phone immediately, called my husband, then I called all the girls” — that is, the mothers whose kids she watches — “every one of them.”

Snyder’s predicament has led to a debate in Michigan about whether a law that says no one may care for unrelated children in their home for more than four weeks each calendar year unless they are licensed day-care providers needs to be changed. It also has irked parents who say they depend on such friendly offers to help them balance work and family.

Fortunately – due to an immediate avalanche of horrible press that left the bureaucrats feeling like cockroaches caught in the middle of a room when the light gets turned on  – the Department of Human Services did a quick tap dance backward.  They said they only threatened her because a neighbor had complained (I mean, the NERVE of that awful Snyder woman who takes those kids into her home to help other working parents keep their children safe!).  And the Department of Human Services is really the bastion of common sense – and not at ALL the kind of agency that would go psycho on a terrific neighborhood saint.

That’s the thing about government regulations.  Bernie Madoff gets away undetected for years while he steals $65 billion, and Lisa Snyder gets nailed for keeping kids safe in her home until school opens.

We’re the government, and we’re here to help.

Let’s have about 50,000 more regulations that make even LESS sense than that one.  Let’s put the government in charge of the health care system.

Vote for ObamaCare, and you’ll get all the bureaucracies, committees (and don’t forget all the various types of committees, such as special committees and standing committees; and whatever you do, don’t forget the myriad, subcommittees), panels, working groups, etc. etc. ad infinitum, that you could ever hope for.

I mean, if you want to make an appointment with your doctor, this is clearly the process you should want to follow, isn’t it?:

Health-Care_Democrats-plan-Charted

There’s a line from a Chuck Schwab commercial: the stock broker says to win your confidence: “Trust me.  I make money when you make money.”  And that’s true.  But of course, what he almost always fails to tell you is that he also makes money when you LOSE money, withdraw money, or when your money just sits in his portfolio not doing anything.  And that clarification changes the whole picture: he’s not on YOUR side, benefiting only when YOU benefit; he’s on HIS side, structuring the game so that he wins no matter WHAT happens to you.

And don’t think for a nanosecond that that isn’t exactly what politicians are doing with your health care.

In the same spirit, when your big government liberal tells you that the “public option” will cover you for life, just remember this one little detail:

ObamaCare_Shovel-ready