The crash of late 2008 was caused not by Republican dogma, but by efforts going back many years on the part of both parties to facilitate homeownership on behalf of poor people. It seemed like the right thing to do. It pleased both liberals, who wanted to help the downtrodden, and conservatives, who took to heart the old Jack Kemp adage that rental cars rarely get washed.
In 1995, President Clinton launched his "National Homeownership Strategy" (Bush continued it as part of his "ownership society"), designed to increase mortgage lending to low-income Americans by requiring bankers to make loans to people with poor or nonexistent credit ratings. This drew in people who were unable to pay off their debts, and speculators, who were betting housing prices would keep rising forever. In retrospect, we can see it was bound to implode, and it did...
Twice, Bush tried to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and twice Democrats (Obama included) moved in to stop him. Especially culpable were Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. Dodd claimed that the institutions were "fundamentally strong," and Frank said he wanted to "roll the dice a little bit more in his situation" rather than impose stricter regulation on Fannie and Freddie.
Friday, December 7, 2012
A reminder on the cause of the financial crisis: