Clinton Pressure to Promote Affordable Housing Led to Mortgage Meltdown

by Hans Bader on September 16, 2008 · 52 comments

in Economy, Legal, Politics as Usual, Precaution & Risk

The current mortgage crisis came about in large part because of Clinton-era government pressure on lenders to make risky loans in order to make homeownership more affordable for lower-income Americans and those with a poor credit history,” the DC Examiner notes today.   “Those steps encouraged riskier mortgage lending by minimizing the role of credit histories in lending decisions, loosening required debt-to-equity ratios to allow  borrowers to make small or even no down payments at all, and encouraging lenders the use of floating or adjustable interest-rate mortgages, including those with low ‘teasers.’”

The liberal Village Voice previously chronicled how Clinton Administration housing secretary Andrew Cuomo helped spawn the mortgage crisis through his pressure on lenders to promote affordable housing and diversity.   Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country’s current crisis. He took actions that—in combination with many other factors—helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments.

He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded ‘kickbacks’ to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why.”  (See Wayne Barrett, “Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie: How the Youngest Housing and Urban Development Secretary in History Gave Birth to the Mortgage Crisis,” Village Voice, August 5, 2008).

Investors Business Daily had an editorial yesterday about how another federal “law designed to encourage minority homeownership” also contributed to the mortgage crisis by pressuring lenders to make risky loans.

The Bush Administration also deserves criticism: although some Bush Administration officials meekly advocated reforms” of the risky practices engaged in by the government-backed mortgage giants (the “Government-Sponsored Enterprises” Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, which received $10 billion annually in taxpayer subsidies even before their current bailout), Fannie’s well-paid lobbyists easily defeated those reform proposals by paying off liberal lawmakers and bullying critics.  And the Administration did nothing to end federal obsessions with “affordable housing” and “diversity” that encouraged lenders to make risky loans to borrowers with little savings.

bob September 17, 2008 at 12:34 am

I believe not only zero downpayment was at fault in this housing meltdown, flipping real-estate properties were at worse. One year ago I nearly fell into this flip-market until I found out the criminals were involved in the process. They were using real-estate to launder their ill-gotten drug profit. Even broker agents solicited flip-properties to their friends and relatives knowing they will make a quick profit. The one got hurt the most are the victims who were misled by this hot market will last forever. Only the real-estate brokers knew what was about to come. I knew this zero down hurt the bank evenually but greed played importance part and the banks are paying the prices. I strongly don't believe taxpayers should bail out bankers for their incompetence. If I were not able continue payment on my car, would government come to my rescue? Our children, children will be paying up their neck on this bailout. Now Hillery wants someone to bail jer out from the polical debt. What a laught. If OB become president, I'm afraid her debt will be paid by the taxpayers.

DCSrini September 17, 2008 at 1:44 am

You're right Bob.It basically reminds me of past history in Canada.Liberals from 1963-1984 enacted policies which wrecked the nation's economy, and then enacted a bailout of Dome Petroleum in 1982 which percolated to the next government; when Mulroney's Progressive-Conservatives were elected in 1984 landslide, they removed (in Mulroney's own 9-year misrule) very few of the bad policies of the Liberals–but compounded these with one of their own, the GST!0blahma becoming President is like Gilles Duceppe winning Canada's 2008/10/14 federal election–only difference is that Duceppe's dislike of Canada is declared, while 0blahma attempts to camouflage his hatred of US.

edmartinonline September 17, 2008 at 1:49 am

At some point if you buy thirty dollars worth of goods with only one dollar, which is the leverage norm for wall street, we are going to have a problem. Free markets depent upon responsible behavior and the greater the misbehavior, the greater the market correction. <a href="” target=”_blank”>

mij61 September 17, 2008 at 5:41 am

In 2005 the Republican Congress House GOP leaders put forward H.R. 1461 [109th]: Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005. The bill would have stripped control of Fan & Fred from the Housing and Urban Development Department where Cuomo had turned it into a regulatory farce.The bill would also introduce “anti advocacy provisions” barring money from Fan & Fred being used as a slush fund for liberal lobbying organizations.Despite Democrat opposition to that measure the bill passed the House, but could not get a vote in the Senate even after the anti-lobbying provision was removed.It is wrong to say the Bush Administration did nothing.

Craig September 17, 2008 at 11:26 am

another puff piece to exonerate Bush responsability. How about the fact thatteh money supply was over inflated as the Bush admin was having the fedrpint money at a fantatic rate. This ten caused the hyper infaltion in housing prices. But the poor pitiful neo-con can never open both yes and give credit hwere credit is due. Both parties caused this, both parties need to be removed from office!

301 September 18, 2008 at 2:42 am

Once folks got one of these loans they would then get a home equity load for 125% of the actual home value. This second loan on the over-valued home was then used to buy or make down payments on new vehicles and other high ticket items. Most of the folks stating that they did not understand the details on their loans are feeding us BS. They knew they could not or would not be able to repay those loans.

Brett September 22, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Since the Bush administration explicitly opposed H.R. 1461, I'm not sure how the bill helps your argument. And look at the lopsided vote totals in the House – it was a pretty bipartisan bill, as these things go.

JVC September 23, 2008 at 6:49 am

1. Where is the ACCOUNTABILITY?2. Why should my taxes pay for the MORONS that needed to risk it all on low interest variable rate loans only so they can keep up with the Jones'? GREED is EPIDEMIC in this country and among those to blame is Hollywood and the liberal media. Why you ask? simple, everyone knows that this country is controlled financially by 30% of the population. This means that the vast majority is average (or below average) and impressionable in regards to intelligence, character and ability to succeed (there are plenty of studies that show this, some have the break down at 20%/80%… refer to Yale Univ. studies). So the first source of impression for these average folks is… yes, television. Need more proof? just look at the ratings and demographics of the dumbest shows on television … the reality shows which thrive on human embarrassment, dishonesty and every other negative character trait there is, shows that thrive on the misfortunes of others, the list is endless. This group of people make the National Inquirer and many other lowest of the low enterprises profitable.Actors – This group of people promote rich and lavish lifestyles and look down upon the average American as lame, they are more concerned about what designer makes their clothes, how much their boyfriends spend on their engagement rings, what daycare to take the kids to while they go shopping, what the hippest drug is, who to cheat on/with next to 'improve' their image, what prostitute's outfit shows more skin so they can wear it to the "Awards", how many cars they can buy to impress the neighbors, what charity can they sign up with so they can advertise it later for improved public image.There may be other sources of social corruption, but without a doubt television has had a tremendous negative effect on the 70% class.

Topcat September 23, 2008 at 7:23 am

Hollywood as the cause of the subprime mess? Is this satire? Put that aside, though, and ask yourself why you are putting this problem on Hollywood, and the 'dumb' people of the world instead of Wall Street? The bailout is for the holders of the mortgage, not the borrower. And whose more stupid, the person who buys a $1 million house on a 40K income, or the lender?The lender is supposed to represent the smart half of the transaction, so where's your anger towards them? You put a label of 'stupid and greedy' on the borrower, but not the lender? Obviously, you are clueless as to how these mortgages were marketed, written, sold, securitized and insured.I'm fine to agree with anyone who says too many people took loans they never should have. But for the life of me, cannot figure out how you give the other party to the transaction a free pass.

Topcat September 23, 2008 at 7:26 am

And so did the lender. They're both culpable. But sure am getting tired ofthe focus on the borrowers when the investors are the ones getting bailed out.The Dems are trying to extend the help to the borrowers, but they weren't the ones that put the bailout on the table. They're just saying what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

jwh September 29, 2008 at 5:06 pm

I wish I could get tired of "focus on the borrowers" like you are, Topcat. I have heard nothing of the responsibility on the shoulders of individuals not to be foolish in purchasing something they cannot afford. Yes, Yes I know there are greedy pigs out there. But there always have been, and there always will be.

jwh September 29, 2008 at 5:10 pm

Topcat, were not the lenders promised a safety net by the FDIC, should the loans fail? Speaking purely amorally, they weren't "stupid." They had nothing to lose. Now are they guilty before a holy God for their greed? ABSOLUTELY! But the greedy aren't the only wrongdoers.And let's not forget the social engineers who brought this one with the force of law.

dk October 3, 2008 at 7:13 am

The Clinton administration tried to encourage home ownership for the lower middle class, having faith that some flexibility in lending to such people would lead to a further anchoring of the middle class in a time of plenty. The unscrupulous behavior of the greedy lenders who built in unconscionable balloon rates and wished to take the money and run, and the financial institutions (investment banks, rating agencies and the like), led to reinsurers like Fannie and Freddie being at risk.How does the Clinton administration take the blame for unscrupulous banking and rating agency behavior? It's the usual spinning of the Republicans, who know that their lack of oversight of banking and rating agency behavior will lose them control of the government, at long last. Unfortunately, the Republicans have done their damage, and the incoming Democrat-controlled government will have to pick up the pieces. I hope Bill Clinton speaks out soon against this false representation of his administration's policies.

James October 6, 2008 at 11:48 am

Bill Clinton has spoken on the subject… He stated that the fault lies with the Democratic Congress for resisting MORE regulation from the Republicans and his administration… he said it last week on TV.

AU October 10, 2008 at 5:34 am

Topcat,The banks and financial institutions gave free pass to the "other party" by being bullied by organizations like ACORN. This organization went to the extent of harrassing bank officials and picketing their homes and offices if a real estate mortgage loan had been declined by a poor applicant. By the way, I am against the bailout because these people knew what they are getting into and they should know how to get out of this mess.AU

deb October 16, 2008 at 5:08 pm

In light of Senator Clinton's comments regarding ” it took a Democrat to clean up after the first Bush and now . . . I find it interesting that no one points out that the current bank failures work their way back to these decisions during the Clinton Administration. . . . Why do we stand my and let the democrats paint their “we're the salvation of the world” pie in the sky and “heaven forbid” share the wealth. Doesn't anything notice what all this came from and is leading to? WAKE UP AMERICA

john c November 6, 2008 at 5:07 am

also see the youtube video 'burnin down the house ' by 'the mouthpiece.

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????? December 1, 2008 at 8:01 am

Cmon people wake up. The Commodity futures moderization Act made all of this possible. And who sponsored this act you make ask. Republican Phil Gramms from Texas. Gramm didn't just make a fairy tale world for Wall Street, though. He included in his bill a provision that prevented the regulation of energy trading markets, which led us to the Enron collapse. There was no collapse of the house of Gramm, however, because his wife Wendy, who once headed up the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, took a job on the Enron board that provided almost $2 million to their household kitty. And why not? Wendy got a CFTC rule passed that kept the federal government from regulating energy futures contracts at Enron. And don't forget former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gave this bill it's blessing too. So put the blame where the blame belongs.

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james December 16, 2008 at 11:15 pm

You have got to be kidding me. Bush has to take some responsibility for the last 8 yrs. I love the republican way of blaming the last guy for everything when they did nothing to stop it. As far as Obama hating the US that is ridiculus. I think some people could make the case Bush hates the US as well for what he has done to us this past 8 yrs. You have not even given Obama the chance to govern yet. James

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