September 26, 2008

Ryan wanted tighter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

As I was reading about the financial crisis today, I recalled early in his career Rep. Paul Ryan served on the House Financial Services committee, including a subcommittee that dealt with banking issues. (As a reporter at the JT, I wrote stories about Ryan receiving campaign contributions from banks.)

I've been taking a look back at Ryan's record on banking issues. One the assertions is that lax oversight of the banking industry by Congress led to the current meltdown. I have no idea if that's true; it certainly could be a Democratic talking point trying to blame Republicans for the mess. (But then again, someone was asleep while Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG, etc. were tanking.)

One of the first articles I found was a Wall Street Journal piece on Ryan proposing greater oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This makes some sense, because conservatives like Ryan hate the quasi-public nature of the mortgage giants. Ryan would much rather private companies handle home mortgages.

Here's the WSJ piece. And here's the part involving Ryan:
Or consider the experience of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, one of the GOP's bright young lights who decided in the 1990s that Fan and Fred needed more supervision. As he held town hall meetings in his district, he soon noticed a man in a well-tailored suit hanging out amid the John Deere caps and street clothes. Mr. Ryan was being stalked by a Fannie lobbyist monitoring his every word.

On another occasion, he was invited to a meeting with the Democratic mayor of Racine, which is in his district, though he wasn't sure why. When he arrived, Mr. Ryan discovered that both he and the mayor had been invited separately -- not by each other, but by a Fannie lobbyist who proceeded to tell them about the great things Fannie did for home ownership in Racine.

When none of that deterred Mr. Ryan, Fannie played rougher. It called every mortgage holder in his district, claiming (falsely) that Mr. Ryan wanted to raise the cost of their mortgage and asking if Fannie could tell the congressman to stop on their behalf. He received some 6,000 telegrams. When Mr. Ryan finally left Financial Services for a seat on Ways and Means, which doesn't oversee Fannie, he received a personal note from Mr. Raines congratulating him. "He meant good riddance," says Mr. Ryan.

In the meantime, there's more out there on Ryan's record on banking issues. It seems like most of the major banking deregulations came before Ryan took office, so there's a good chance he wasn't involved in the underlying causes of our current mess. But he's our Congressman, and it's worth checking.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for doing this research. This really helps to know who did what when.