This is rich on any number of levels:
The White House is signaling today that it’s going to back off and let the latest housing bill through, even though it objects to the part where American taxpayers actually see benefits from their taxes instead of just the shareholders:
Under the bill, the government would help struggling homeowners get new, cheaper loans and would be allowed to offer troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a cash infusion…
…Bush had objected to the $3.9 billion provision in the measure, saying that it was aimed at helping bankers and lenders, not homeowners who are in trouble.
Ah, so the one part of the bill aimed at getting cheaper loans for people struggling with unaffordable ARM mortgage payments is the part that’s aimed at helping bankers, eh? Then what about this passage – which goes entirely without comment or illumination in the MSNBC article:
It hands the Treasury Department the power to extend the government-sponsored mortgage companies an unlimited line of credit and buy an unspecified amount of their stock, if necessary, to prop up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two companies chartered by Congress.
As Dean Baker points out, shoring up Fannie and Freddie’s bonds might be a good idea to stave off further economic disaster – bonds typically constitute the bedrock of a lending company’s financial insurance – but there’s no macro-economic reason that the government should have to buy up stock in the company. Except, that is, to minimize the loss of the investor class. So, who is helping whom, here? What is the direct benefit of this stock purchase plan for the average consumer?
But Dana Perino, who is already getting beaten up about Barack’s Excellent Adventure in the Mid-East, has chose to go the “we could have if we wanted to,” route in defending the Administration’s capitulation on this “wasteful” spending provision. That, and the “Hard-working martyr” route:
White House press secretary Dana Perino announced Bush’s switch in an earlier telephone conference call with reporters. “We believe this is not the time for a prolonged veto fight but we are confident the president would prevail in one,” she said…
…She said she expected that the $3.9 billion provision would be included in the final legislation. “With Congress scheduled soon for yet another recess,” she said, “the risk of not having a bill until at best the middle of September — if they even were act then — is not a risk worth taking in the current environment.”
Darn that stupid, slow Congress! Things would be better if they worked quicker. As a wise man once stated, “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”