In one of the great Dilbert parodies of all time,Dilbert's team is seen meeting with a vendor who, along with his colleagues,begins trumpeting the virtues of their new product. When Dilbert asks how itworks, the vendor sheepishly replies that they didn't bother to bring along theguy who could explain that.
That laughable gap is not all that far from what'sincredulously absent in the current House and Senate debates over financialregulatory reform.
Specifically any reformation directed toward the twinBP-like gushers of taxpayer largesse - mortgage financing concerns Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac.
These two have unquestionably been responsible forsucking up more taxpayer dollars than any behemoth financial institution onWall Street to the tune of $145 billion. And their responsibility for thehousing crisis is incalculable.
And they both promise to just keep taking as Congress andthe White House continue to camouflage the true costs of these toxicinstitutions.
Two years ago, when the federal government put both intoreceivership and kept funneling reams of cash into them for survival, theCongressional Budget Office petitioned for the costs of Fannie Mae and FreddieMac to be accounted for on the federal budget. But with Social Security, Medicareand Medicaid already off the books, the Office of Management and Budgetdecided, hey, what's two more?
In a sidebar, the White House has also used the pair tochannel money into loan modification programs that not coincidentally, are alsooff the books.
Care to guess how that's going?
As of June, more than one third of the 1.24 millionborrowers who entered the once-ballyhooed $75 billion mortgage modificationprogram have already dropped out, including 150,000 in May alone.
The exodus began when banks began demanding such trivialdocuments like oh, say proof of income.
But back to Fannie and Freddie.
According to reports, the two have roughly $8.1 trillion(no, that's not a misprint) in outstanding securities, which both the FederalReserve and the Treasury have stated they will meet, should the crumblingconcerns need help. A precaution akin to warning that it probably would be wiseto have a designated driver at a bachelor party in Las Vegas.
By the way, foreign governments hold more than $1 billionof those securities so the irony of U.S. taxpayers bailing out foreigninvestors won't go over so well, I'm guessing.
Yet for the past seven years, House and Senate Democratshave been relentless in their efforts to fight against any type of reform withthis toxic twosome, and the list of aiders and abettors is both long and highprofile - Frank, Dodd, Schumer, et al.
True and meaningful reform has to include these twoprimary causes of the housing crisis, or else it would surely be fodder for afuture Dilbert cartoon.
In case you haven't noticed, U.S. taxpayers are becominga restless lot.
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