Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Compelling Personal Histories Shape Mortgage Crisis Solutions

(AP) Washington, D.C.--Rep. Barney Frank is the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Sen. Chris Dodd is Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. For the first time, these two leaders of recent mortgage rescue efforts shared their compelling personal stories and told reporters how those experiences helped shape their proposed solutions to the mortgage lending crisis.

Before a packed Congressional hearing room, Frank described for the first time how “As a Member of Congress, I publicly dismissed calls to reform government-sponsored mortgage companies, denied their failure would threaten the Treasury, and scoffed at the prospect of a coming crisis. All the while, I encouraged the same companies to guarantee more affordable mortgages to people who couldn’t pay them back.”

As a result, he confessed, those companies are now insolvent, and taxpayers are on the hook for some $200 billion to bail them out.

“I saw the writing on the wall, and chose to ignore it,” said Frank, almost inaudibly as he looked down at the podium. “And then,” he said, cupping tears in his cheeks as he cracked a wide smile, “I was rewarded by my constituents with reelection.”

At that fateful moment, said Frank, he became committed to promoting government programs that benefit those who knowingly incur the risk of long-term losses. “If I could be so rewarded for overextending the taxpayer,” said Frank, “how could I not reward those who overextended themselves?”

Sen. Dodd approached the podium next. He appeared somber at first, but as he began to describe his own mortgage history, his cheeks began to glow under a halo of perfectly coiffed hair. Dodd described how he came to be the beneficiary of two sweetheart mortgages brokered by a subprime lender. “There I was, a Senator and a millionaire,” he said. “And someone was going out of their way to do a special favor for me. I was touched. Changed forever.”

It was a change, he said, that tranformed him into a champion for millionaire victims and billion dollar bailouts.

Dodd, the protector of millionaires, and Frank, the protector of those pretending to be millionaires, took one last question before winding down the press conference with a mutual hug.

A reporter asked where their programs left those who live within their more modest means. Frank turned to Dodd, a wet glint in his eye. “We have the greatest job in the world,” said Frank. “We spread the word to the middle class that they’ve been making sacrifices not for themselves and their families, but for others.” Dodd was eager to complete the sentiment. “We bet they find that reward enough.”

Associated video: video; associated articles: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123595305743805193.html; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122091796187012529.html?mod=googlenews_wsj; http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-dodd.art.artfeb14,0,4221115.story; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123681364667801647.html; http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/03/our-view-on-f-1.html?loc=interstitialskip; http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/30/aig-chiefs-pressed-to-donate-to-dodd/; http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/24/video-frank-in-2005-bubble-what-bubble/; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704335904574495682178142104.html