Friday, April 03, 2009

Vast Rightwing Mendacity

Rep. Barney Frank did a number on the Big Lie being told by the right wing last night, and used the words of my title, Vast Rightwing Mendacity. It fit very well. There is yet another huge myth being promoted that blames Rep. Frank for the lack of regulation. and I am trying to get a link for it.

Of course, Rep. Frank was working for reasonable regulation throughout the last eight years of rightwing deregulation. With its usual disregard for truth, the minions of the kleptocrats are accusing the very public servants who fought them to protect the country for the disaster they brought about. Of course, anyone with an ounce of sense would already know where the responsibility lies for the economic meltdown, so there is no reason for the wingnuts to try appealing to those with good sense. That 20% is tightly wrapped in its unreality, and obviously only listens to those who reinforce their delusion.

The dominance of the media by the right wing has led to the mantra that libruls promoting homeownership by the poor caused the economic crisis, and Rep. Frank pointed out that he had sought more than a few times to ensure that affordable rental property be the emphasis rather than promotion of mortgages that the poor could not afford. He recalled a conversation with Hank Paulson in which Paulson was promoting ending rental subsidies to the poor after five years in order to push them into buying homes. Frank reports his response was to ask if Paulson then would be ensuring that after five years those renters were to get salaries enabling them to purchase those mortgages; as usual, good sense did not end the adopted belief in the wingers' own ideas.

While it's a short version of a wonderful spiel, some of Rep. Frank's major points appear in an interview published yesterday in The Daily Beast. I want to add that Rep. Frank verbally last night made a wonderful aside about how the rightwing loves to bring up his gay lifestyle and evidently finds it very titillating. He also mentioned that an article in the Wall Street Journal that blamed Rep. Frank for acting to keep regulation from being applied to Fannie and Freddie had totally been a lie, and his letter refuting it with facts was refused.

Q: You’ve been chairman now for two years and two months. What’s that been like?

A: Well, I stress that, if you’re listening to the Republican critique, I was apparently the chairman without knowing it for 15 years because they complained about all these things that didn’t happen during the period they were in power, from 1995 to 2007.

Q: You've been implicated by some opponents as being responsible for the failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

A: When in fact they were in power and didn’t pass the bill. I became chairman on January 31, 2007. The committee passed the bill in March, and the House in May. I was very happy about it, particularly because one of my great passions has been affordable rental housing. One of my big fights with the Republicans was, they were killing the programs to build rental housing for people. They were the ones pushing them into homeownership. I was critical of that and said you’re not doing anyone a favor if you get them to buy a house they can’t afford and can’t keep.

Q: Since you're a celebrity in Congress, people are interested in your life, and your opponents have claimed that [Frank’s ex-boyfriend] Herb Moses was working in a high position for Fannie.

A: How do you think it’s a high position? They’re lying.

Q: What’s the truth of the matter?

A: Herb Moses was a man I lived with from 1987 until 1998. He went to business school and graduated from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in 1990 at the age of 31. He got a kind of entry-level position in mortgages with Fannie Mae, wasn’t a high executive, wasn’t a president, a vice president, a senior assistant vice president. I doubt he was in the top 200 or 300 employees or even much more than that, and he worked there until 1998. We split up, he quit and left for California, long before I was the senior Democrat on the committee. I was like the fourth-senior Democrat. That’s an example of the lies.

Q: What’s that like, being such a lightning rod?

A: What troubles me is not so much personally because people hear the facts and it’s OK. The problem is it’s a concerted effort by the right wing to avoid regulation. We’re in a terrible situation now because of the absence of financial regulation. The fundamentalists philosophically worry about regulations coming. They see this, I think correctly, as being like the New Deal, like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, where the public sector steps in to put some rules in to govern the excesses of the private sector while still keeping the value of what they do. They’ve come up with an alternative explanation, because they want to avoid new regulations on hedge funds, on credit-default swaps, on collateralized debt obligations. They’re saying, you liberals help the poor people too much, you wouldn’t let Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac get regulated. And the argument now is, “Oh the Democrats stopped them.” I have to tell you, if I could stop them, there wouldn’t be an impeachment of Bill Clinton, the war in Iraq, the Terry Schiavo case, tax cuts for the very wealthy. But what troubles me is that it’s being used, for policy reasons, to prevent us from taking the kind of regulatory steps that we have to take.
Q: How about the legacy of Alan Greenspan?

A: Oh, I think it’s a disaster. Well, I think two things. On macroeconomic policy, I think Alan was unfairly criticized. People said he should’ve deflated the bubble. What they meant was he should’ve caused high unemployment. Greenspan successfully resisted what even a lot of liberals said. It was this whole view, something called the NAIRU—the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment. That said, even the New York Times’ financial pages bought into it. If unemployment dropped below 5.5 percent, it would be inherently inflationary. Greenspan says, no look, we’ve got new productivity, that’s not the case. Unemployment got down to 3.9 percent without being inflationary, and Greenspan resisted a lot of liberals, and I give Alan credit because he said no—and he also acknowledged in hearings that we had too much inequality in the society. I also remember when a Republican asked him if he thought it was possible to cut taxes and increase revenue, and he said theoretically it’s possible but it’s never happened in my lifetime. He was, at the time, 80. But he made a terrible mistake in his opposition of regulation. In particular, his failure to use the power Congress gave him in 1994, to limit subprime lending, gives him heavy responsibility for this crisis. And Bernanke to his credit, used exactly the authority Greenspan refused to use to ban the wrong kind of subprime lending.

During his floor speech last night, Rep. Frank produced documentation of his votes and his positions on issues that have been misrepresented, lied about, and blamed for the opposite of his actual activity. I will be trying to get a copy of the entire speech, but much of it was inspired. There are few more offensive things the kleptocracy has achieved than its promotion of destructive lies, often repeated by the media as if they were fact.

The refusal to allow the lies to stand is a duty the bloggers must be firm about. Promoting facts and truth is the impetus behind the left leaning blogs, and a good part of the reason they have become a force.

The truth should be able to stand alone, but the wingers have chosen blatant lies as their methodology, because it is the only way to promote failed ideology. We have to counter that constant lying with facts.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

"Facts are terrible things." Somebody said that once.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

I believe Atrios may have said that about a hundred times, at least. The only way to get right with those facts that I know is to behave.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Great catch Ruth. I've been looking for evidence to debunk this zombie lie for a while now.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

I just wish I had been able to access the CSpan tape of it before I posted, but thankfully found the main points in that interview. It's worth watching the entire speech.

7:58 AM  

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