Gene Lyons writes: So here’s my question: If the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 effectively caused the Wall Street meltdown of 2007 by forcing banks to make bad home loans to improvident poor people (and we all know exactly who I mean), how come it took 30 years for the housing bubble to burst?
Next question: If fuzzy-thinking Democratic do-gooders enacted such laws in defiance of common sense and sound economics, why didn’t Republican Presidents Reagan, Bush I or Bush II do something? Was Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., secretly running the country?
Exactly how did the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the United States — the investment bankers and corporate execs who host the $1,000-a-plate fundraisers, scoop up the Cabinet appointments and ambassadorships, and party down at White House galas — end up having less power over the U.S. economy than unskilled day laborers in Newark, N.J., or Oakland, Calif.?
Maybe some “resident scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute, or another of the comfortable Washington think tanks devoted to keeping Scrooge McDuck’s bullion pool topped-up, can teach us how things got so upside-down. Because under normal circumstances, the national motto is neither “e pluribus unum” nor “In God We Trust.”
It’s “Money Talks.”
Money was talking big-time last week. Clearly annoyed by the unkempt ragamuffins of Occupy Wall Street, New York’s dapper billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered himself of a conspiracy theory so absurd that it had previously been confined to such dark corners of American life as the Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity programs and the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
“I hear your complaints,” Bloomberg said. “Some of them are totally unfounded. It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp … [T]hey were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will … And now we want to go vilify the banks because it’s one target, it’s easy to blame them and Congress certainly isn’t going to blame themselves.”
Actually, “annoyed” is too mild to describe a sophisticated Wall Street player like Bloomberg resorting to so crude and poisonous a political lie. He can’t possibly believe it. For all its ragtag, hippie-dippie aspects, Occupy Wall Street must have people at Manhattan’s most elegant dinner parties running scared.