The Spectacle Blog

Specificity in the Pledge

By on 9.23.10 | 11:59AM

Here is how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are addressed in the Pledge to America

End Government Control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:  Since taking over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that triggered the financial meltdown by giving too many high risk loans to people who couldn't afford them, taxpayers were billed more than $145 billion to save the two companies.  We will reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by ending their government takeover, shrinking their portfolios, and establishing minimum capital standards.  This will save taxpayers as much as $30 billion.

And here the plan for entitlements is outlined:

Reform the Budget Process to Focus on Long-Term Challenges:  We will make the decisions that are necessary to protect our entitlement programs for today's seniors and future generations.  That means requiring a full accounting of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, setting benchmarks for these programs and reviewing them regularly, and preventing the expansion of unfunded liabilities.

Fannie and Freddie could not be more deeply involved in the housing market. They currently back a majority of the mortgages in the U.S. To suggest that they can be reformed easily by "ending their government takeover" (which doesn't make sense grammatically, by the way) takes a huge stretch of the imagination. Of course, the collapse of the housing market is the short-term problem for the U.S.

Entitlements are the long-term challenge. Phil alluded to this: reforming Medicare and Social Security is the difficult problem facing Congress. There is no point in trying to tackle government spending without addressing the looming entitlement crisis. 

In other words, we're facing a short-term crisis and a long-term crisis. The only response to either in the Pledge is a vague promise to "reform" the relevant programs. And this when the legislation, at least in the second case, is already written and scored

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