Obama has claimed that he foresaw the mortgage meltdown America has been suffering from over the last several weeks. He also claims that he tried to take action to fix it. But the truth is that while Obama did write some letters, he mostly did nothing. And when presented with an opportunity to actually cast a vote on Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac reform, he punted.
Finally, on the matter of deregulation and the financial crisis, Sen. Obama should consider his own complicity in the failure of Congress to adopt legislation that might have prevented the subprime meltdown.
In the summer of 2005, a bill emerged from the Senate Banking Committee that considerably tightened regulations on Fannie and Freddie, including controls over their capital and their ability to hold portfolios of mortgages or mortgage-backed securities. All the Republicans voted for the bill in committee; all the Democrats voted against it. To get the bill to a vote in the Senate, a few Democratic votes were necessary to limit debate. This was a time for the leadership Sen. Obama says he can offer, but neither he nor any other Democrat stepped forward.
Instead, by his own account, Mr. Obama wrote a letter to the Treasury Secretary, allegedly putting himself on record that subprime loans were dangerous and had to be dealt with. This is revealing; if true, it indicates Sen. Obama knew there was a problem with subprime lending — but was unwilling to confront his own party by pressing for legislation to control it. As a demonstration of character and leadership capacity, it bears a strong resemblance to something else in Sen. Obama’s past: voting present.
One can only assume that Obama didn’t jump on board with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac reform because he didn’t want to buck his own party. And buck his rabid supporters among groups like ACORN. But isn’t making tough, unpopular decisions the hallmark of leadership?
Is this leadership we can believe in?