The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.The new agency created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would have provided regulatory oversight and set 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.
The administration's proposal, which was endorsed in large part today by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, would not repeal the significant government subsidies granted to the two companies. And it does not alter the implicit guarantee that Washington will bail the companies out if they run into financial difficulty; that perception enables them to issue debt at significantly lower rates than their competitors. Nor would it remove the companies' exemptions from taxes and antifraud provisions of federal securities laws.In a perfectly aligned part line vote, Barney Frank and all Democrats voted to block traditional banking regulation of Fannie and Freddie, with all Republicans voting against. The Democratic majority beat back the proposal, as they had successfully done some years earlier:
''The current regulator does not have the tools, or the mandate, to adequately regulate these enterprises,'' Mr. Oxley said at the hearing. ''We have seen in recent months that mismanagement and questionable accounting practices went largely unnoticed by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight,'' the independent agency that now regulates the companies.
''These irregularities, which have been going on for several years, should have been detected earlier by the regulator,'' he added.
''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.
Summer of 2003
The Wall Street Journal
I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing."—Representative Barney Frank, September 25, 2003
Barney Frank quotes from Video:
There has been an excessive degree of concern right now about housing, and its role in the economy.... but those who argue that housing prices are at the point of a bubble seem to be missing a very important point.... we are taking here about homes where there is not the degree of leverage... Homes that are occupied may see an ebb and flow in pricing, but not a collapse...NOTE: This is the Chairman of the Finance Committee in Congress saying these things. Does he understand finance at all?
"Enabling these institutions to increase in size - and they will once the crisis in their judgment passes, we are placing the total financial system of the future at substantial risk."Alan Greenspan
Barney Frank is running for Congress in 2010. As one of the central persons in creating the financial collapse, why are people voting for him?