Yesterday in a special session the Senate passed the Housing Economic Recovery Act of 2008, H.R. 3221, with a 72 to 13 vote. This measure received such overwhelming bipartisan support so politicians could point to this legislation and say, “We are doing something to mitigate the foreclosure crisis”.
This bill once converted to law with President Bush’s signature next week can’t and won’t do a thing to stem the drop in home prices which is what home owners and landlords need desperately. But with over 1.5 million households in foreclosure and elections in November, politicians did what politicians usually do…too little, too late.
I found the perfect quote to describe this new bill…
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies.” – Groucho Marx
Grouch had H.R. 3221 in mind when he made that statement. This bill is nothing more of a blank check to the Treasury Department to bail out the GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Sure the Democrats slipped in a $5 Billion measure allowing states to buy and repair foreclosure properties. However, you and I both know this money will never reach the market in time and it’s a drop in the bucket anyway.
Paulson pushed hard for this legislation for the last 2 weeks telling every Congressman who would listen how our national credit worthiness with the world was at stake…our honor no less. It just goes to show how ill-equipped Congressmen are to spot a conman in action. Since when does bailing out two of the most profitable NYSE traded companies in recent history a national priority?
Paulson now has the power to grant unlimited credit to the GSEs and the power to buy their stock directly. This over-reaching power has never been given to the Treasury. The GSEs, especially Fannie Mae, are known for accounting scandals, huge campaign contributions to Congress, and multi-million dollar incentive-based compensation packages for top executives.
This is how we want to spend tax payer money?
Wall Street firms can’t seem to determine the extent of the subprime damage in their own portfolios, so how is Paulson going to it at the GSEs? The bad loans buried in the mountain of GSE owned debt – over $5 Trillion – could easily be well over $100 Billion at Fannie Mae alone.
My guess is this new law will cost the tax payers over the next few years about $200 Billion and not one dime will stop the slide in home values. Not one dime will go to help a family save their home from foreclosure which would help stabilize home prices.
Groucho…when you’re right, your right.