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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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Comments:

Malachi Constant

seriously, the picture...someone is playing a cruel joke. Its like Michelle Bachmann with the crazy eyes.

Jared D

this article is incredible. I want to hear from a Democrat, ANY DEMOCRAT, who can defend his party after reading this.

ANY DEMOCRAT.

Jeremy Soninjer

Democrats are so pathetic. If you're in D2, vote for Riley.

Joseph P

Congressman Langevin along with his colleagues have dismal records. You are right to say that Barney Frank and the Democratic cronies have stood by protecting their golden cow that became a deflated pig over night and I am talking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bush never did get his oversight and look what happened.

Kenneth Amylon

Mr. Rowley, you have done it again. This is an excellent summary, concise and yet complete.
The proximate cause of the financial crisis of 2008 was the bursting of the housing bubble. People who could not afford them were given mortgages backed up by Fannie and Freddie. When they stopped making their mortgage payments, POP! went the bubble. It's so easy to make up complicated and sophisticated lies about this because of derivatives based on the mortgages, but the entire market was obviously fine until people stopped making their mortgage payments.
So you have nailed it, and I hope most of Rhode Island reads this article before we have to endure another political speech on the subject by Congressman Langevin or anyone else.

Michael Byrnes

Malachi,

So style is more important than substance - so then I am sure you would agree that smirking and smiling Joe Biden came off a lot like Bozo the Clown - I bet Mr Rowley would take Michelle Bachmann any day of thy week.

jon paycheck

he lies ... and the media lets him get away with it every day....

you forgot to mention chris dodd.. who shamed himself into not running for reelection.

and jack reed... how much has he made off financial services.

Richard Rendine

Studies on tax cuts over the years have clearly shown that they do not lead to job creation and that most tax cut money is used by consumers to drawn down their debt. We can argue all day, which party has caused the problem, but the truth is that only a big and sustained increase in demand will lead the economy out of the current doldrums. In my business experience, tax policies were never an important part of management thinking, my focus; indeed, my obsession was always on ways to increase demand for my product and services.

Michael Gardiner

Good point Mr. Rendine.

Charles D.

This is just another simplistic article by Mr. Rowley where he complains about distortions and then proceeds to distort situations where unbiased authorities have provided evidence to the contrary. What we need is thoughtful dialogue not a party line rant, all sound and fury with little substance.

Let’s start with his comment about the “superior” free market ideas of Republicans. Superior in what way? Is he claiming it is superior in allocating resources? How does that square with the state of our transportation system - rail, bus, air - in America, if the free market is so superior. And how does that reflect the condition of our wonderful roads. And in answering this question on roads, maybe he can point out to me where Cardi Construction, for example, has their gleaming R&D building doing the latest research on road and building construction. But if not Cardi, how about showing other private sector construction companies who have such facilities in RI or anywhere in NE or straight across the country to California. Surely given the “superiority” he claims for the free market, Rowley should come with one or more such buildings that reflect this industry’s R&D effort???

Also, let me get this straight – Rowley says it’s a myth that Obama inherited a mess and then goes on to create his own myths. In his diatribe, the deficit created by Bush is ignored as well as ignoring the fact that the current deficit is an arithmetic calculation involving both revenue and spending because he prefers to associate the deficit just with spending.

The reason the Bush policies are relevant today is because they still have a huge impact. Recall that Bush did what no other president has ever done. He got us into war without a plan to finance it. Instead he initiated a tax cut. Besides the financial implications, you should always raise taxes to pay for war because it is one way to get every American mentally and financially involved with the war including those most vocal about it. War itself is the most unproductive of resource use. Conservatives are always against spending except when it comes to war and is the basis for rightfully calling them warmongers.

Rowley’s accusation about Langevin lying (a questionable claim) pales before the Bush administration lies. And we have the facts to support that – trillions of dollars wasted, 5,000 Americans killed, 25,000 Americans maimed and injured, 100,000 Iraqis killed; all justified because Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Sorry, not all lies are of the same degree or have the same adverse consequences. And many of us are weary of old men (especially Conservatives) telling young people they should off to war and be killed.

As for the housing crisis, it was brought about in part by the repeal of the Glass Steagall act which mixed retail and investment banking and led to the “shadow” banking of non-bank banks and their creation of auction- rated securities. It was the failure of these popular, widely used financial instruments, outside of any government regulations, that was the primary cause of the financial crisis and the failure of Lehman Brothers. Bush and his associates gambled that allowing Lehman Brothers go bankrupt would reform the system, but it sent the country to a financial precipice. To Bush’s credit he quickly realized the error his administration had made – we were hours away from every ATM closing down, for example – which led to the bank bailout.

Also, it is popular for Conservatives and other low effort readers to blame Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac for the crisis and those agencies did engage in some imprudent loans early on, but Fannie and Freddie had other problems in the early 2000s and those problems put intense scrutiny on these agencies which kept them mainly outside the housing bubble’s most feverish pitch from 2004 to 2006 and the data clearly shows they had only a minor role in the bad lending of that period.

I could go on and on to dissect Rowley’s article, but to headline an article with the word “Lying” is irresponsible enough, but then to read the article and discover his many distortions, and cornball and trite slogans just reflects Rowley’s journalistic and political philosophy ineptitudes. He does what most Conservatives do, he takes complex situations and oversimplifies them so that he can then scold. Not an admirable modus operandi.

Captain Blacksocks

Clinton..bad president. Bush...bad president. Obama...bad president. Congress...bad in every way. That's a lot of years of bad leadership.

Kenneth Amylon

Charles D., you have courage rising to the Jared D challenge. But I have to take issue with several of your points.
1) Your example of roads, for one: How does Cardi, or any other government contractor, serve as an example of the free market? It's exactly the opposite. I remember being astounded a few years ago to hear that resurfacing of 195 was costing a million dollars a mile. These contracts always seem to cost something expressed in even numbers of millions (or tens or hundreds of millions), and seem to take forever to complete. And buildings? I'm missing your point altogether on this one. What innovations are you talking about? From residential construction to high-rise commercial buildings, construction methods and materials are nothing like those used years ago.
Meanwhile, government interference is costing us productivity and jobs in virtually every sector of the economy. All that free-market advocates want is effective and rational regulations. What we have are irrational, ineffective and costly regulations. And, by the way, it is widely conceded that this is not a solely Democratic- or Republican-caused problem. George W. Bush notoriously added tens of thousands of pages of regulations during his tenure. But there is a clear preference for big business over small business in the crony-capitalism and heavy-handed regulation of business favored by Democrats. This strategy is currently preventing the recovery from proceeding at a historically average pace. Is it a coincidence that the big entities (GE, Buffet, Soros, et al) give millions of dollars to Democratic candidates?

2) I disagree with your analysis of the financial crisis. Glass Steagall was only one factor that has a bearing on the collapse. Fannie and Freddie should be regarded as having enabled the crisis, not caused it directly. But these are fine points. How do your respond to my point, above, that it was proximately caused by the liar loans? When payments stopped being make the collapse was inevitable. Sophisticated after-market derivatives were only dominoes falling.
3) One irony of the history of our invasion of Iraq, in my opinion, is that one person who was right, and acted with integrity, was our now-governor, Lincoln Chafee. Hilary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and many others all voted to authorize the use of force. Clinton and Edwards used almost identical words to describe a visit to "Clinton contacts in the intelligence community" to verify the WMD assessment. All professed at the time to believe that Iraq possessed WMD. How is it that George W. Bush is now regarded as the "liar"?
Senator Lincoln Chafee, if you remember, got it right. He also met with intelligence people, and claimed that he "didn't like the body language." As a result he voted against the use of force, and never believed that WMD existed. On the other hand, he was virtually a minority of one, and differed with the U.K., Israel, and every other major intelligence service in holding his opinion at that time. We must give him credit for integrity, but part of the issue was evolving intelligence assessments (illustrated in spades by the New York Times article of Joe Wilson which charged Bush with "lying" because he relied on this assessment at the time of his State of the Union address, only to have the assessment changed months later. Apparently, Mr. Wilson held President Bush responsible to be clairvoyant).
So kudos for some detailed knowledge of these subjects. But you have fallen for many of the political characterizations that have no basis in logic or history. You would do well to inform yourself instead of simply relying on the facile representations of the likes of Congressman Langevin and other politicians.




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