The biggest bailout

The biggest bailout

November 27th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

Democrats and many in the news media place the blame for the economic crisis overwhelmingly on the private sector -- rather than on a federal government that has racked up a $15 trillion national debt and has imposed regulations and tax rates that destroy job growth.

Well, some responsibility does rest with the private sector. Some companies and individuals committed outright fraud.

And it wasn't fraud but poor judgment that harmed the economy in other areas.

U.S. automakers, for instance, long had unsustainable contracts with autoworker unions. That added greatly to the cost of cars made by the companies and made it harder for them to compete with foreign cars -- including some which are also made in the United States. That and poor management decisions ultimately put some of the car makers in desperate financial condition, leading to federal bailouts.

So obviously it would be naive to suggest that the private sector did nothing to bring about the economic crisis and the ongoing, massively high unemployment rate in our country.

But since we've brought up the bailouts, perhaps you would like to take a quick guess as to exactly who got the biggest bailout from the federal government.

Was it one of the major banks, which have drawn so much of the anger of the liberal so-called Occupy Wall Street protesters around the country?

Was it one of the auto companies perhaps?

Not at all.

In fact, the recipient of the biggest single bailout from Washington is not really a private-sector company -- at least not in the way we would normally understand that term.

So who is it?

It's government-run mortgage giant Fannie Mae.

So far, Fannie Mae has received nearly $113 billion in bailout money from U.S. taxpayers.

And the damage that Fannie Mae is doing to our economy and to our people is far from over.

Just recently, it requested an additional $8 billion from the federal government. What is the purpose of that money? It's primarily to cover Fannie Mae's losses from only a three-month period: this past July through September.

No private-sector company has received the level of government bailout funding that government-controlled Fannie Mae has received.

As if that were not bad enough, another government-run mortgage business, Freddie Mac, has received tens of billions of dollars in bailout funds, too. And like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac recently requested an additional $6 billion from Uncle Sam -- meaning you -- mainly to cover its third-quarter losses.

When it's all said and done, the Freddie and Fannie bailouts may wind up costing taxpayers a fifth of a trillion dollars!

That's almost an unimaginable sum.

Yet the bailouts resulted from Washington's decision over a period of years to pressure banks to give home mortgages to people who in many cases had risky credit. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought up lots of those risky mortgages -- placing the burden on taxpayers when large numbers of home buyers began defaulting on loans they never should have received in the first place.

So while criticism is directed -- in some cases appropriately -- toward private-sector companies that helped create the economic crisis and then received bailouts, a large share of that blame rests squarely on the shoulders of our irresponsible federal government.

Unfortunately, there seems to be far less interest in the news media in highlighting gross federal irresponsibility than in focusing on "corporate greed."