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When I heard the Senate passed S.2636, The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, by a vote of 84-12, I immediately wanted to know who the 12 Senators were who voted against it. Those might be 12 Senators I could support. Those might be 12 Senators interested in doing the right thing, as opposed to the pandering election year thing that actually makes the problem worse. Those 12 Senators might actually be, gasp, fiscally responsible, a notion that almost seems quaint in these days of mutually assured fiscal destruction (spend, spend, spend, borrow, borrow, borrow, tax, tax, tax, prop up the economic house of cards for another day, the future be damned, this Titanic is a really nice ship, what's that sticking out of the water up ahead ? Aw, who cares, I'm too fat and lazy to bother turning the wheel, I'm sure it will all be fine, ooh, did we hit something ?).
It came as no shock to me that all 12 of the Senators who voted 'Nay' on S.2636 were Republicans. Every single Democrat Senator voted for the taxpayer funded boondoggle, except for Obama and Hillary, who didn't vote. Here are the S.2636 'Nay' voters. Kudos to them:
Barrasso (R-WY) Bunning (R-KY) Coburn (R-OK) Corker (R-TN) Crapo (R-ID) DeMint (R-SC) Enzi (R-WY) Gregg (R-NH) Hagel (R-NE) Inhofe (R-OK) Kyl (R-AZ) Warner (R-VA)
It also came as no shock to me that the fiscally conservative position of these 12 Republicans is the minority position within their own party, a party that gives lip service to fiscal conservatism, but in reality has morphed into something else entirely, especially during these last 7 years (FYI - Senator John McCain supports S.2636, even though he didn't cast a vote. He has given it verbal support, contradicting statements he made against an unwise mortgage bailout only a couple weeks earlier). This bodes very poorly for our future. When Republicans aren't interested in fiscal responsibility, we're in big trouble, because the big spending socialist Democrat foxes sure aren't going to guard the fiscal hen house.
One of the 12 'Nay' voters on S.2636 was Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY). Here are a few of his comments on the Foreclosure bill:
“This is an unusually bad bill, and I have opposed it from the start. The course it has followed almost guarantees that it will be filled with the worst kind of gimmickry. And it is. The Senate may be the world’s greatest deliberative body, but this bill is anything but the product of deliberation. It is a jumble of disjointed ideas, unlikely to solve the crisis at hand, and it’s unpopular.
“It turns out that the American people don’t like the idea of bailing out banks and their neighbors who gambled on home prices. The voters understand what is going on in Washington, better than we do.
“Another provision that deserves far more scrutiny is the $4 billion in community development block grants that will be allocated to state and local governments to buy foreclosed properties. To begin with, this program is very poorly managed. The Wall Street Journal called it among the worst-run programs in Washington, and there is a lot of competition for that title...
Let’s not have any illusions. This extraordinarily unwise grant of taxpayer money is really just a bailout for banks in disguise. It goes to states, but the ultimate beneficiaries will be banks that made risky loans. Instead of selling foreclosed properties on the open market, these banks will have the luxury of selling to local officials with whom they may already have a relationship. These officials will be buying properties not with their own funds, but with ‘O.P.M.’ O.P.M. stands for ‘other people’s money.’ And, in this case, the O.P.M. comes from you and me, the American taxpayer, and millions of unborn Americans that we are saddling with even more debt.
Another provision that could benefit from more thoughtful deliberation is the $100 million of spending on counseling. … We also don’t know all that much about the non-profit groups that will get the money. Are some of these groups funded mostly by credit card companies? If so, they will have a clear conflict of interest. Maybe they will actually advise people to abandon their homes to foreclosure in order to pay credit card debt. That would make the foreclosure situation worse, not better.”
But Mr. Bunning, if Congress actually considered the effects of the bill before they voted on it, they might not get it passed in time to pat themselves on the back for the fall elections. What's important is that Congress DID something, even if it's the wrong thing. That's how they get votes. That's how demagoguery works.
The mortgage crisis can only be resolved by a revaluation of housing prices, which is what this temporary housing problem would have brought about had it been left to run it's course. It is counterproductive in the long run for the government to move in and try to keep property values artificially inflated. Free market capitalism doesn't mean that the market will go up, up, up forever. Sometimes it needs to go down too. Pushing huge new costs onto the taxpayers is NOT the answer here.
As for John McCain, Senator Obama has been going around saying it took McCain three tries to get the correct housing crisis response. I say McCain had it right the first two times, and abandoned the right thing the third time, when he caved and started pandering like the rest. The government (actually the taxpayers) shouldn't be in business of bailing out banks and homeowners who made unwise economic decisions. All this bill accomplishes is to move the Titanic a little closer to the iceberg.