It’s like the guy who has a heart attack and a week after emerging from the hospital finds himself at Outback Steakhouse enjoying a prime rib and the fried onion loaf.
It’s all just too good to pass up, near death experience be damned.
With barely a pause, we’re headed back toward another housing crisis, and Mel Watt (D-N.C.), who was confirmed Tuesday as the overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is all set to lead us there. He likes to give loans to people who seem nice and deserving but who unfortunately can’t afford it. And that’s what caused financial Armageddon 2008
Honestly, I thought we were supposed to be doing away with Fannie and Freddie. Nope. They’re still using your money to back up mortgages. And according to Peter Wallison, writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, the standards for a loan guaranteed by you are about to drop:
The stage has already been set. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP), an agency created by the Dodd-Frank Act, has outlined a minimum quality mortgage that will permit a borrower to get a loan with a 3% down payment and a FICO credit score well below 660. Under Dodd-Frank, a lender could be subject to severe penalties if it turns out that the borrower cannot repay the loan—but the CFPB’s rule protects the lender against liability if Fannie and Freddie’s automated underwriting systems approve the loan.
Wallison says it’s only natural then that Watt is President Obama’s man for the job:
The North Carolina congressman is a consistent, long-time supporter of affordable-housing quotas. He joined Barney Frank in 2003 to block the Bush administration’s attempt that year to increase government oversight of Fannie and Freddie.
According to the Daily Caller . . .
In 2002, Watt teamed up with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Bank of America, BB&T, and UJAMMA Inc., to announce Pathways to Homeownership, a pilot initiative designed to give home loans to welfare recipients . . .
In 2007, a full year after the real estate market peaked and began to plummet under the weight of millions of mortgage defaults, Watt and Frank co-sponsored a bill forcing Fannie and Freddie to meet even higher quotas for affordable lending.
The Wall Street Journal recently questioned Watt’s readiness for the job, noting his own admission as recently as December 2011 that he didn’t know much if anything about derivatives.
But the fellows in the White House understand derivatives, and they’ll be explaining to Watt what to do.
Well, at least Watt’s a nice guy. Not the person we want in the job, but a nice guy.
Years ago, as a reporter covering alternative fuels, I went to a briefing on Capitol Hill – I think it was about natural gas vehicles. Anyhoo, the briefing was scheduled for like 9:00 am – way too early for reporters, who back then were used to filing their one story of the day in the early evening and then rolling in to work at 10:00 am or later.
So I walked in, a little late myself, to see three Congressmen and approximately no reporters in a room with about 70 chairs. One of the lawmakers was speaking. It was Mel Watt.
I sat down to listen, and as I finished I noticed him walking toward me. And then toward me some more. And then right next to me. And then I realized what was happening: his seat was the one right next to me, on the aisle.
Well, he had to make a choice. If he didn’t sit down, he might seem impolite, like you know, he didn’t want to be next to me. On the other hand, sitting down would be ridiculous. Two big dudes – I’m over six feet and I think he is too – sittin’ right next to each other in a big empty room.
He sat down.
And there we remained for the rest of the briefing, two oversized male storks perched side by side amid a sea of empty nests, each leaning slightly away from each other in polite discomfort.