This op-ed misidentified a House bill to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that was pulled from consideration before a vote. It was H.R. 2575, in 2003. The bill mentioned in the column, H.R. 1461, passed the House in 2005 but was not voted on in the Senate.
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Where Was Sen. Dodd?
How did Fannie and Freddie counter such efforts? They flooded Washington with lobbying dollars, doled out tens of thousands in political contributions and put offices in key congressional districts. Not surprisingly, these efforts worked. Leaders in Congress did not just balk at proposals to rein in Fannie and Freddie. They mocked the proposals as unserious and unnecessary.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said the following on Sept. 11, 2003: "We see entities that are fundamentally sound financially. . . . And even if there were a problem, the federal government doesn't bail them out."
Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), later that year: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
As recently as last summer, when housing prices had clearly peaked and the mortgage market had started to seize up, Dodd called on Bush to "immediately reconsider his ill-advised" reform proposals. Frank, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said that the president's suggestion for a strong, independent regulator of Fannie and Freddie was "inane."
Sen. Dodd wonders what the Bush administration did to address the risks of Fannie and Freddie. Now, he knows. The real question is: Where was he?
Al Hubbard was director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president from 2005 to 2007. Noam Neusner was a speechwriter and communications director in the Bush administration from 2002 to 2005.