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After CRA came into effect, Saul Alinsky-inspired “community organizer” groups such as Greenlining, ACORN, and National Council of La Raza got into the shakedown business. They preach the hateful class-warfare rhetoric of their fellow community organizers Jeremiah Wright, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Michael Pfleger.
They rage against capitalism and demand crushing taxes and aggressive wealth-redistribution programs. They demand more government spending on social programs, a higher minimum wage, and gun control. Depending which way the economic wind is blowing, they demand more subprime lending, or curbs on subprime lending, which through the magic of dysphemism, is linguistically transformed into “predatory lending.”
La Raza (“The Race,” in Spanish), which has lobbied to strengthen CRA, performed an amazing sleight of hand last year. After decades of demanding more loans for racial minorities, the group performed a dramatic about-face, suddenly warning that lenders, realtors, and investors who bought up subprime loans could be sued under a federal law that forbids housing discrimination.
It was the lenders’ responsibility to “match families to the sustainable loans that they should have gotten in the first place,” said Janet Murguia, La Raza’s president. Pointing to 2005 data that show subprime loans with high interest rates comprised more than 50% of all mortgages taken by African-Americans and 40% of Latino borrowers, compared to 19% of white borrowers, she raised the specter of racism. Murguia failed to mention that without a subprime market many members of racial minority groups would have remained renters, unable to buy a home.
And the Greenlining Institute played rough with Rabobank, an international Netherlands-based “megabank” (assets: $740 billion) that was expanding its U.S. operations.
Even though Rabobank had received an “Outstanding” rating in its most recent CRA performance evaluation by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, that wasn’t enough for Greenlining.
The group targeted Rabobank, demanding that it shell out $7.5 billion for loan programs to help farmworkers buy their own farms. When the bank balked, Greenlining launched a campaign last year against its proposed acquisition of another bank.
Activists noisily picketed Rabobank until it caved.
“Congratulations to everyone,” “Rabobank is totally afraid of you,” Greenlining’s top legal dude Robert Gnaizda yelled in offering congratulations to at demonstrators through a bullhorn. “Rabobank is totally afraid of you.” Earlier this year, Greenlining proudly unveiled what it called a “unique agreement” with Rabobank “to turn San Joaquin farmworkers into farmowners.”
This is the kind of political activism that drove banks to make irresponsible decisions, and that now threatens to put taxpayers on the hook for bank bailout packages costing potentially trillions of dollars.
Even though the left’s pathological preoccupation with economic egalitarianism never takes a vacation, the left isn’t entirely to blame for Wall Street’s current troubles.
The Federal Reserve Board encouraged bad behavior by keeping interest rates artificially low for far too long after the 9/11 attacks. Since money was cheap, bankers went overboard with exotic mortgage products, and investors kept inflating the housing bubble, sending home prices into the stratosphere.
But no one can deny the fateful role that these liberal financial activist groups played in making a bad situation much worse.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?