Fannie and Freddie are an economic disaster for U.S. taxpayers and endanger the entire U.S. banking system but according to the Wall Street Journal Opinion page they have been a big success politically for Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts and, apparently, that is how Washington judges success.
But the biggest payoff for Mr. Frank is the “affordable housing” trust fund he managed to push through as one political price for the recent Fannie reform bill. This fund siphons off a portion of Fannie and Freddie profits — as much as $500 million a year each — to a fund that politicians can then disburse to their favorite special interests.
Ah, the ever popular political slush fund.
Mr. Frank has had many accomplices from both parties in his protection of Fan and Fred. But he was and is among the most vociferous and powerful. In any other area of American life, this track record would get a man run out of town. In Washington, he’s hailed as a sage whose history of willful error will be forgotten faster than taxpayers can write a check for $200 billion.
I used to blow off the “affordable housing” angle as a partial cause of the Fannie and Freddie failure but now it seems plausible.