Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Two Sides of History

Every story has many sides depending on how one interprets the facts and history is no exception. Politics, however, provides plenty of contranyms, fables, and downright lies.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV, first elected to Congress in 1983), said during ABC News/Washington Post "Top Line" program Tuesday, as reported by WaPo's The Fix, that he was not at fault for the economic downturn.
"I had nothing to do with the massive foreclosures here [in Nevada.]

Reid contended in today's interview that "it would take a real stretch" in order to think that he caused the country's economic problems. Instead, Reid argued, he worked against many of the policies enacted during the administration of George W. Bush that were to blame for the economic crisis.

"I don't have any hand in what took place during the Bush administration. I tried to rein that in," Reid said.
Thomas Sowell remembers the history just a little bit differently in Tuesday's IBD editorial, The Mess Bush Left And Other Obama Fables.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century.

Today, with Barack Obama in the White House, allied with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in charge in Congress, the national debt is a bigger share of the national output than it has been in more than half a century.

Another political fable is that the current economic downturn is due to insufficient government regulation of the housing and financial markets. But it was precisely the government regulators, under pressure from politicians, who forced banks and other lending institutions to lower their standards for making mortgage loans.

These risky loans, and the defaults that followed, were what set off a chain reaction of massive financial losses that brought down the whole economy. Was this due to George W. Bush and the Republicans? Only partly. Most of those who pushed the lowering of mortgage lending standards were Democrats — notably Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Christopher Dodd, though too many Republicans went along.

At the heart of these policies were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which bought huge amounts of risky mortgages, passing the risk on from the banks that lent the money (and made the profits) to the taxpayers who were not even aware that they would end up paying in the end.

When President Bush said in 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be reined in, 76 members of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the contrary. These included Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel.

If we are going to talk about "the policies that created this mess in the first place," let's at least get the facts straight and the names right.
The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY 1976-2000) once said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." Harry Reid has his own facts, isn't shy about using them, and doesn't care whom he hurts when doing so.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

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