It's sad when just about the only place to get the truth about what happened to precipitate the current mortgage-lending mess is the Colbert Report.
Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" appeared on the Comedy Central show on Monday.
The takeaway soundbites:
- Cramer said "I'd love to, but I can't" pin the blame for the debacles at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on President Bush.
- He noted that "the Democrats got a lot of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie and vice-versa. It was a big circle," and that this is what enabled the two government-sponsored enterprises to continue "to lend to anybody."
Though Colbert was in attempting-comedy mode, Cramer eventually got to the point where he clearly wasn't kidding (video is at the National Review Media Blog link).
Here's the relevant verbiage, which begins at the 2:20 mark (bolds are mine):
Colbert: Let's count the different ways this is Bill Clinton's fault. Um, too much regulation, right? Too much regulation. Fannie, Freddie, bad, bad.
Cramer and Colbert: Bad. Bad-bad-bad-bad.
Colbert: Because he expanded that, right?
Cramer: Well, they were allowed to lend to anybody who walked in. Anybody who walked in got up to 400 thousand dollars.
Colbert: What are we doing giving loans to people who need money?
Cramer: It's outrageous, outrageous, but it's also, what, they were set up to do that. They were set up to give people loans who couldn't get 'em otherwise.
Colbert: So that's, so that's it. It was the government that did it.
Cramer: Oh, everybody participated but the government did have a lot to do with it.
Colbert: Okay, so we can safely not blame this on, on, on, the Bush Administration.
Cramer: No, you can't. Honestly, you can't blame it on the Bush Administration.
Colbert: You cannot.
Cramer: No you can't.
Cramer: You actually can't.
Colbert: Thank you.
Cramer: I'd love to but I can't. It doesn't work.
Colbert: All right.
It's historically inaccurate.
Colbert: All right, but whose fault is it?
Cramer: Well I mean the Democrats wanted them to be able to lend to anybody.
Colbert: I love you. Go ahead.
Cramer: It's true. It is true. Because the Democrats got a lot of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie and vice-versa. It was a big circle. Uh, the Republicans did believe that everybody, we had this "everyone should own a house" thing, including, uh, people who were undocumented, and ....
Colbert: Or one person should own every house. That's John McCain's idea.
Cramer: Yeah, yeah, he's got a lot of houses. He's got like all the greens and yellows like on Monopoly.
Colbert was too anxious to deliver his McCain "every house" line, and as a result was clearly not listening to Cramer at the end of the excerpt. Thus, we'll never know, unless he is asked elsewhere, whether Cramer's "undocumented" reference was to so-called "low doc" loans that required very little paperwork and little or no proof of income, or to non-citizens (the "undocumented," in politically correct parlance) who were able to obtain mortgages because of lax documentation requirements. Warner Todd Huston reported at NewsBusters yesterday that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that "Some five million fraudulent home mortgages are in the hands of illegal aliens."
As noted in the intro, Colbert's show is about the only place where the fundamental origins of the Fan and Fred debacles, which I have taken to calling Fredron and Fanron, have been brought out -- and that may have been an accident.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.