There really isn’t any question of which approach is factually correct: right on the front page of the Times edition of December 21 is a chart that shows the growth of home ownership in the United States since 1990. In 1993 it was 63 percent; by the end of the Clinton administration it was 68 percent. The growth in the Bush administration was about 1 percent. The Times itself reported in 1999 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were under pressure from the Clinton administration to increase lending to minorities and low-income home buyers--a policy that necessarily entailed higher risks.
Banks now had to show that they had actually made a requisite number of loans to low- and moderate-income (LMI) borrowers. The new regulations also required the use of “innovative or flexible” lending practices to address credit needs of LMI borrowers and neighborhoods. Thus, a law that was originally intended to encourage banks to use safe and sound practices in lending now required them to be “innovative” and “flexible.” In other words, it called for the relaxation of lending standards, and it was the bank regulators who were expected to enforce these relaxed standards.
The effort to reduce mortgage lending standards was led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the 1994 National Homeownership Strategy, published at the request of President Clinton. Among other things, it called for “financing strategies, fueled by the creativity and resources of the private and public sectors, to help homeowners that lack cash to buy a home or to make the payments.”
PREVENTING A RECURRENCE of the financial crisis we face today does not require new regulation of the financial system. What is required instead is an appreciation of the fact--as much as lawmakers would like to avoid it--that U.S. housing policies are the root cause of the current financial crisis. Other players--greedy investment bankers; incompetent rating agencies; irresponsible housing speculators; shortsighted homeowners; and predatory mortgage brokers, lenders, and borrowers--all played a part, but they were only following the economic incentives that government policy laid out for them. If we are really serious about preventing a recurrence of this crisis, rather than increasing the power of the government over the economy, our first order of business should be to correct the destructive housing policies of the U.S. government.
The American Spectator : The True Origins of This Financial Crisis