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Sunday, July 29, 2012

And You Thought the Housing Crisis Was Over!

Honestly, I'm beginning to believe most of the people working in the federal government are mental defectives. This includes elected officials, regulators, pencil pushers and the entire bureaucracy. The decisions that continue to flow from Washington, D.C. make absolutely no sense and they are bankrupting the nation. We need to send psychiatrists in there to clean out the entire city so we can start again. - Reggie

The Community Reinvestment Act is back, as if 2008 never happened.

Do you remember that thing about how the banks wouldn't lend to blacks and Hispanics because they were racists? And do you remember how they passed the Community Reinvestment Act so that banks were forced to reduce down payments practically to zero and lend to a lot of people they knew were bad credit risks? And do you remember how Wall Street bundled all these risky subprime mortgages and sold them to investors around the world so that when it became clear that those people weren't going to be able to pay their mortgages banks everywhere were left holding the bag and all five of the Wall Street investment houses either went under or had to be bailed out by the federal government?

And do you remember how, when it was all over, liberals said it was actually the banks' fault for "deceiving" all those people into thinking they could afford to buy homes and that the banks should be punished for it and some of those people be allowed to keep their homes anyway? And do you remember how all this cost the government close to a trillion dollars and put the whole economy in a hole that we really haven't begun to dig ourselves out of yet?

Well, get ready because the whole thing is about to happen again.

Yes, believe it or not, the federal government is now starting another initiative to force banks to lend to low-credit-rated blacks and Hispanics -- not just anybody but specifically blacks and Hispanics -- and is threatening -- and already imposing -- huge punitive fines if they don't. Moreover, this time they're going even further. They're going to take over the credit rating agencies and force them to change their standards to accommodate blacks and Hispanics so that nobody will have any idea who is a bad credit risk and who is not. In so many words, the government is about impose its will on the whole home-lending market and force another round of bad loans so that the banks are going to be looted once again so that even the federal government may not be able to bail them out this time.

The principle instrument this time is not the Justice Department, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as it was last time, but the brand-new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, designed by good old Elizabeth "Nobody-Ever-Made-It-On-Their-Own" Warren, which should really be called the Bureau for Bringing Down the Entire Economy. As reported in last Sunday's New York Post by Hoover Institution Media Fellow Paul Sperry, the CFPB has just announced that it is adopting a 20-page "Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending" issues by the Interagency Task force on Fair Lending in 1994 that kicked off Attorney General Janet Reno's draconic enforcement of the Community Renewal Act. Part of the policy statement reads, "Applying different lending standards or offering different levels of assistance to applicants who are members of a protected [i.e., minority] class is permissible in some circumstances. Providing different treatment to applicants to address past discrimination would be permissible if done in response to a court order." There are already plenty of court orders sitting around.

Just two weeks ago Wells Fargo caved to a Justice Department offensive and paid $175 million for alleged past discriminating against minority borrowers. All this occurred even though the bank received an "outstanding" grade in its most recent Community Reinvestment Act exam. The government did not even bother to prove discrimination in a single instance but relied instead on statistics showing lower rates of homeownership in minority neighborhoods. Thomas Perez, the Justice Department honcho who is spearheading this campaign, says banks discriminate "with a smile" and "fine print" and are "every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood." Nice objective evaluation there.

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