Ralph Nader is nearly 80 years old. And he is probably as sharp as anyone in Washington half of his age. So where does Linda DePillas get off implying that he is senile in his efforts to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from being eliminated? The piece begins:
"It's not often in Washington that you see wealthy, conservative investor types and their lawyers sitting down with professional affordable housing advocates. But on Wednesday morning, anti-corporate crusader Ralph Nader — now stooped and gray, nearing his 80th birthday — brought them together.
"Their cause? Saving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from obliteration.
"It's a herculean effort. Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much these days, but a broad consensus — from Rep. Jeb Hensarling to the White House — has coalesced around the conclusion that the now-hated housing finance agencies need to be junked, and something else built in their place. A bipartisan bill pushed by Senators Mark Warner and Bob Corker and framed around proposals put forward by center-left groups has taken on an air of inevitability, just waiting for a legislative window to move forward."
Wow, a "bipartisan bill," a "broad consensus" of Democrats and Republicans, we probably have not seen so much coming together since the bipartisan support for the deregulation of the 1990s and the celebration of the soaring rates of homeownership during the housing bubble years. That little product of Washington and Wall Street ingenuity now looks destined to cost us more than $24 trillion according to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office. What sort of senile old fool could question that?
The Corker-Warner bill touted in the piece makes the financial deregulation of the 1990s looks like a model of cautious reform by comparison. Instead of having Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are now essentially government-run companies, guaranteeing mortgage backed securities (MBS), it would allow private financial institutions to issue MBS with a government guarantee. The only protection is that the investors would have to eat the first 10 percent of the losses.
Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and the rest of the wall Street gang had no problem passing off their dreck in the housing bubble years when investors could not count on any guarantee. Now the Post is telling us that only a senile old fool would question the wisdom of setting the same crew lose again, but this time being able to tell investors that in a worst case scenario they could only lose ten percent. If questioning the wisdom of that approach is senility, we could use a lot more of it in this town.
Here's the more complete picture.