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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 2010 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5771

Fannie, Freddie, Frank, and fiction

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Barney Frank can be ruthless in debate, especially when laying into opponents who try to evade what they have said and done in the past. But as he pursues a 16th term in the US House, Frank seems to be attempting a little evasion of his own.

>Frank faces a spirited challenge from Republican Sean Bielat, a 35-year-old businessman and Marine Corps reservist. Bielat has turned Frank's longtime support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the "government sponsored entities" (GSEs) that aggressively enabled the subprime mortgage lending at the heart of the financial meltdown, into the major issue of the race. During a debate last week, Bielat charged: "By pushing for homeownership, even among those who couldn't afford the homes, Barney Frank put this country on a perilous footing."

Frank, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, has always been ardent in his defense of Fannie and Freddie. In 2003, he insisted that the two mortgage giants were not "facing any kind of a crisis." In July 2008, just weeks before the GSEs collapsed and were taken over by the federal government, he publicly maintained that "Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound -- they are not in danger of going under." Frank recently told the Boston Globe's Donovan Slack that "he missed the warning signs [in 2003] because he was wearing ideological blinders," while in 2008 "he was deliberately trying to reassure the public."

Is it fair to blame Frank for the ill-advised home loans to unqualified borrowers that were at the heart of the economic crisis? Not according to Frank. He points instead to Wall Street greed and to the fecklessness of congressional Republicans when they were in the majority. He also points to George W. Bush's passion for expanding homeownership -- a passion that included pressing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "meet ambitious new goals for low-income lending," as The New York Times put it in a 2008 story headlined "White House Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire." That all of them played a role in the collapse, no reasonable person can doubt. So to the extent that Bielat accuses Frank of primary responsibility for the financial derailment, he goes too far.

But Frank also goes too far in vehemently denying any connection to Fannie and Freddie's failure, or to the risky mortgage lending that caused so much damage. He portrays himself now as a lifelong advocate for affordable rental housing only. To hear him tell it, it was never a part of his agenda to make it easier for low-income homebuyers to get mortgages. Indeed, he says, he always fought the idea.

"Low-income home ownership has been a mistake, and I have been a consistent critic of it," Frank claimed during a debate with Bielat on WRKO.

Over the years, Frank has been a consistent critic of many things (defense spending, Republicans, free enterprise), but an opponent of programs to assist low-income homeowners? The congressman who in 2003 blasted Bush administration efforts to reform Fannie/Freddie on the grounds that "the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing"? The one who saluted Fannie Mae in 2004 for backing mortgages with as little as 5 percent down on factory-built "trailer" houses, and chided the media for not showing enough interest in what he called "an essential part of any program to increase home ownership in America"?

As far back as 1991, the Globe reported that Frank lobbied Fannie Mae to ease its rules restricting mortgages on two- and three-family homes, even though the default rate on those mortgages was far higher than the rate for single-family dwellings. Was that being a "consistent critic" of low-income home ownership? How about when he gave a speech in 2005 praising the "advocacy groups that work with us so that we can make homeownership available to people who might not on their own in a market situation be able to afford it"?

To be sure, Frank has on multiple occasions stressed that many Americans are better off renting and that not everyone is suitable for a mortgage. He has been a scourge of predatory lenders. And as mortgage foreclosures were skyrocketing in 2007, Frank said the Bush administration's overemphasis on homeownership had "contributed to the subprime crisis."

But a consistent critic of low-income homeownership? Barney Frank has been called a lot of things, but that's never been one of them. Until now.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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