May 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton has accused Donald Trump of cruelly rooting for the 2008 mortgage meltdown because it was a buying opportunity for investors. As a real estate businessman, he did say it was a buying opportunity; but I doubt he was rooting for a crash, since he’d recently launched Trump Mortgage. That opportunity didn’t go so well.

But Hillary’s crocodile tears for ripped-off property buyers aren’t very convincing (and not just because of her involvement in the Whitewater Development Corp.). She’s also previously tried to make political hay by blaming the entire economic meltdown on George W. Bush. As she put it, “Time-tested values were replaced by false promises.”

Just as a reminder, click the link here for a brief, clear history by Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore of the subprime mortgage meltdown that nearly tanked the economy. It started well before Bush came to power, with a regulatory push to expand homeownership by forcing lenders to give loans to people with no or bad credit, then allowing those shaky loans to be sold and backed by the taxpayers. That’s why that journal of the vast right wing conspiracy, Time magazine, later noted that one of the “25 people to blame for the financial crisis” was…Oops!...Bill Clinton.

Bush tried to rein in the excesses and was blocked by Democrats in Congress, particularly Rep. Barney Frank of the House Financial Services Committee, who declared that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.” Ironically, it was the Democrats’ violation of the “time-tested value” of not loaning money to people who can’t pay it back that resulted in countless repossessed property auctions, the very “buying opportunity” scenario that so offends Secretary Clinton today.

Of course, there was eventually plenty of blame on both sides. The mortgage meltdown wouldn’t have happened if members of both parties and their backers on Wall Street hadn’t seen a perfect combination of vote-buying and easy money and pressed the pedal to the metal at risk to the entire economy. I was hammered by the Wall Street donor class for pointing that out back then. But while Hillary blaming it all on Bush was transparently disingenuous, for her of all people to try to tar Trump with it is downright laughable.

Hillary now boasts that early in the financial meltdown, she put forward proposals to deal with it. That’s true. They included more regulations on lenders, more federal oversight of the financial industry and more borrowing options for poor and first-time homebuyers. In other words, they didn’t restore any “time-tested values,” they just added more of the very same things that caused the problem, which is precisely her prescription now for dealing with the Obamacare meltdown. It’s also Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Incidentally, has anyone else noticed the parallels between the mortgage meltdown and Obamacare? In both cases, Democratic Presidents barged into long-established industries they knew nothing about, demolishing time-tested methods of safely balancing profit and loss. They pandered to voters by promising to make a necessity of life easier, cheaper or free. Despite knowing better, industry leaders smelled government moolah and bellied up to the trough. When the predictable disaster occurred, the proposed solution was more government involvement, more regulations to try to overturn fiscal reality, and tons of taxpayer money to paper over the mess. It proves that heavy government interference is a time-tested method of destroying virtually anything it touches.

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  • Stephanie Agosta

    06/12/2016 12:52 PM

    The causes of the crisis are complex and developed over many years. But if you want to hold a single elected official responsible for the collapse of American International Group -- if any one event could have taken down the entire financial system, that was it -- it would have to be Republican Phil Gramm.

  • William Huver

    05/31/2016 06:16 PM

    Mike, I love reading your comments and watching your interviews. You have an incredible ability to cut through nonsense and clearly reveal appropriate points of fact. This demonstrates your thoughtfulness, and I see it as a gift.