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Travis Rowley: Now Jim Langevin is Lying

Saturday, October 13, 2012


While it has already been demonstrated that both Sheldon Whitehouse and David Cicilline have returned to the Ocean State in order to deliver falsehoods to Rhode Island voters this election season, it is widely considered to be much more difficult to expose the less outspoken Jim Langevin.

Until now.

In order to counteract the superior free-market ideas that Republicans have been espousing for the past several years, Democrats collectively decided to continuously employ one particular untruth that most Republicans, for some reason, have been unwilling to spend their time and energy attempting to dispel – that is, that the Bush-era tax cuts represent the “failed policies of the past” that “got us into this mess in the first place.”

You know, the crisis that President Obama “inherited.”

It has been an oft-repeated talking point for the political Left, that Mitt Romney’s plans to simplify the tax code and “lower tax rates across the board” represent a Republican willingness to cause a second financial crisis – transparent political rhetoric clearly aimed at tying all future Republican reforms to a particular former president who the media has successfully turned into a political pariah.

Because the Left has an astounding ability to quickly create and establish political myths, it has become absolutely necessary to remind Americans that the economic spiral of 2008 was caused by a little thing that the media used to refer to as “the housing crisis” – not the Bush tax cuts.

And that the Bush tax cuts didn’t “fail.” Not even close. In fact, they pulled the nation out of the clutches of an economic recession that was further exacerbated by the 9/11 attacks.

That’s the situation that President Bush “inherited.”

And while the Bush administration, yes, failed to curb domestic spending (as if Democrats care), the Bush tax cuts were not responsible for ballooning the annual budget deficit. Rather, they resulted in “virtual full employment” and “produced record tax revenues” to the federal government.

Fannie and Freddie

The housing crisis wasn’t caused by “deregulation” either, a hopeful Republican initiative that compels Democrats to take their misleading claim to even more malicious levels.

Whenever Democrats cite “the failed policies of the past” in order to refer to Republican promises to loosen up government guidelines placed on private enterprise, they are purposely confusing plans to deregulate the marketplace with the lack of oversight on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – government-sponsored agencies (GSEs) that prominent Democrats sought to protect from Republican reforms.

As early as 2001 the Bush administration was warning that the size of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was a “potential problem” that could “cause strong repercussions in financial markets.” And Congressman Ron Paul (R) spoke of an existing real-estate bubble, and predicted that it “will burst, as all bubbles do.”

In 2003 President Bush began to call for a new federal agency that would serve to supervise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Testifying before a congressional committee, Treasury Secretary John Snow said, “We need a strong world-class regulatory agency to oversee the prudential operations of the GSEs.” And Senator John McCain (R) attempted to pass regulatory legislation that would attempt to satisfy these concerns, saying, “For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market…The GSE’s need to be reformed without delay.”

Democrats responded with reckless defiance to Republican caution. Barney Frank famously remarked that he did “not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness” that is required of similar entities, and that he preferred to “roll the dice a little bit more in this situation.” Rep. Maxine Waters (D) said, “If it ain't broke, why do you want to fix it? Have the GSEs ever missed their housing goals?” Waters would add, “We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae…Everything in the 1992 act has worked just fine. In fact, the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals.”

“What is the wrong that we're trying to right here? What is the potential harm that we're trying to avert?” asked Sen. Thomas Carper (D) during a Senate Banking Committee hearing.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D) said, “My worry is that we're using the recent safety and soundness concerns…as a straw man to curtail Fannie and Freddie's mission. And I don't think there is any doubt that there are some in the [Bush] administration who don't believe in Fannie and Freddie altogether, [they] say let the private sector do it. That would be sort of an ideological position.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D) resented those who called for congressional hearings to discuss the operations of agencies that were charged with ensuring that people could obtain mortgages that they truly couldn’t afford: “I am just pissed off at [the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight] because if it wasn't for you I don't think that we would be here in the first place.”

Behold! The Democratic politicians who championed the “failed policies of the past” that led to the economic crisis that Barack Obama would ultimately “inherit.”

Jim Langevin: Nothing Special

The federal government’s intervention into the housing market has a long and storied history. As far back as 1977 President Jimmy Carter was sponsoring the Community Reinvestment Act – legislation that required lending companies to offer loans to “underserved populations.” In the years to come buttressing legislation, such as the 1991 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and the 1992 Federal Housing Enterprise Act, would serve to levy more legal pressure onto banks and other lenders.

So it was refreshing to hear Congressman Langevin (D) admit to as much during his primary debate with John Matson several weeks ago. “First and foremost, I want to make sure that everyone understands that many of the changes in the financial system that took place that ultimately led to a near-economic collapse in many ways took place before I was even in Congress,” Langevin explained. “They were years in the making…I’m as angry as anyone else.”

But this was only after Matson charged that Langevin – a twelve-year incumbent – obviously shares the blame for the nation’s fiscal disorder. “They’re in charge. They have committees. They’re supposed to have oversight of all the wasteful spending, the bundling of the mortgages,” Matson blasted. “[People] stood up and warned of the impending doom, where everyone should have a house, and the mortgage debacle. Nobody did a thing.”

It seems that once Langevin escaped the Democratic primary, however, he suddenly remembered that deceiving Rhode Islanders and preying off of their ingrained prejudice against Republicans has proven to be the most prolific practice of getting re-elected.

During the course of his debate with Republican challenger Mike Riley, Langevin just couldn’t help himself. Once a moderator raised the fact that the policies enacted by Obama and a Democratic congress have failed to revive the economy to acceptable levels, Langevin responded, “Let’s look at the fact that it took years for us to get into this mess under Republican policies, George Bush and the tax cuts that were not paid for. Two wars that were not paid for. And it’s taken us a long time to dig our way out of this. President Obama inherited a mess when he came into office.”

There’s nothing left to call this tired rhetoric but a lie.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is chairman of the RI Young Republicans and author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left


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