Commentary Magazine


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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac survived scrutiny by manipulating, cajoling, and lobbying politicians and hiring board members who were politicos (e.g. Jamie Gorelick) rather than mortgage gurus. They hired lobbyists, gave massive donations, obtained nice tax breaks, and sailed below the regulatory radar screen.

Of the 354 lawmakers who received money from Freddie and Fannie between 1989 and 2008, Sen. Chris Dodd received the most. But next was . . . drumroll . . . Barack Obama. Yup. And he was only there for three years. Not too much went to John McCain, about a sixth of what Obama received (h/t Glenn Reynolds.)

But, you say, maybe all the Fannie and Freddie employees who gave money just “liked” Obama. That might make sense with ordinary institutions. But these two had a game plan to influence and sway lawmakers for the purpose of keeping them on the government gravy train and out of the regulatory line of fire. It’s no coincidence that they “liked” Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd best of all.

So it would appear that this is precisely what Obama has been railing against: Washington insiders lining the pockets of other Washington insiders while the taxpayers ultimately have to foot the bill. The Agent of Change, it seems, didn’t exactly walk the walk on this one.