I was reviewing the biography of Congresswoman Gwen Moore on her official U.S. House of Representatives website and came across the following:
Congresswoman Moore is a strong advocate for measures that focus on improving the economic and employment conditions in low-income communities. Rep. Moore has fought to curb predatory lending in minority neighborhoods, supported sound efforts to help small businesses grow and advance the creation of new jobs, pushed for the creation of more affordable housing, and also for compliance in the non-discriminatory hiring of minority-owned businesses for government contracts. (My emphasis added)
The “affordable housing” phrase is linked to a May, 2005 press release, in which Rep. Moore touts an amendment she helped add to a major housing bill aimed at “encouraging” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to “reach out to underserved minorities.” While that bill never became law, it appears that Rep. Moore is still proud of her efforts and considers this one of her accomplishments as a member of Congress. Apparently, Rep. Moore felt that Fannie and Freddie were not lenient enough in supporting the subprime housing market through their purchasing of mortgage-backed securities from lenders. Does she still feel that way today? Her (not yet updated?) biography seems to suggest that she does.
Keep in mind, we now come to find out that Fannie and Freddie intend to dish out sizable bonuses this year that even surpass last year’s amounts. This is six months after both firms were placed into conservatorship and despite seeking nearly $60,000,000,000 in taxpayer assistance to stem massive losses. According to Yahoo,
Fannie Mae said regulators determined that the bonuses were needed because keeping key employees “was essential to ensure our viability through 2010, which would allow Congress, the administration and other parties involved time to determine what the form and function of the company will be in future years.”
The bonuses were authorized last year by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which seized control of Fannie and Freddie in September and ousted the companies’ former CEOs
“It was critical to retain their most important asset — their employees — who are being asked to play a vital role in the nation’s economic recovery,” James Lockhart, the agency’s director, said in a statement. “As the previous senior management teams left, it would have been catastrophic to lose the next layers down and other highly experienced employees.”
Hmm…so these bonuses were agreed upon many months ago and have been known about for quite some time, and are intended to prevent the firms from losing talented and experienced employees which could be important for long-term viability. Sound vaguely familiar? It seems that “tin ears” are not only limited to the leaders of Wall Street firms bailed out by the government–if you accept the hysteria of the past week.
As for those A.I.G. bonuses, Rep. Moore has made her displeasure known. With just a few minor changes, I am in full support of her comments:
“The fact that some on Wall Street in Congress have sought to exploit the public tax dollars is not only outrageous but is an egregious violation of the public’s trust,” said Rep. Moore. “If the leadership of companies our government officials who implicitly and explicitly encouraged GSEs to increasingly finance the subprime housing market and that receive TARP dispense bail-out funds are determined to waste taxpayer dollars on extravagant bonuses then I believe we as taxpayers- who significantly subsidize these same companies GSEs- have the right to recoup those funds.”
I, along with Fannie and Freddie, await her outrage.