“We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.”
— President Obama in last night’s State of the Union Address
Stop right here.
Forget the rest of the speech. Focus just on this single sentence and understand what is really afoot here.
Back in February of 2009, my former Reagan colleague Peter Wallison, now at the American Enterprise Institute, took the time to make a typically Wallisonian in-depth look at the financial crisis and it’s causes. He published his findings right here in The American Spectator
What we learned was that in 1993 — the beginning of the Clinton era — there was what Wallison termed a “major effort” by Clinton’s bank regulators to “reform” banking rules.
Banking rules? What banking rules?
Banking rules put in place by Jimmy Carter in the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. These Carter banking rules, which replaced earlier banking rules that had replaced earlier banking rules that had replaced still earlier banking rules, were constructed by the government after much study beginning in 1993. Constructed in such a fashion as to do precisely what President Obama described last night.
Wrote Wallison here in The American Spectator back in February 2009:
In 1995, the regulators created new rules that sought to establish objective criteria for determining whether a bank was meeting CRA standards. Examiners no longer had the discretion they once had. For banks, simply proving that they were looking for qualified buyers wasn’t enough. Banks now had to show that they had actually made a requisite number of loans to low- and moderate-income (LMI) borrowers. The new regulations also required the use of “innovative or flexible” lending practices to address credit needs of LMI borrowers and neighborhoods. Thus, a law that was originally intended to encourage banks to use safe and sound practices in lending now required them to be “innovative” and “flexible.” In other words, it called for the relaxation of lending standards, and it was the bank regulators who were expected to enforce these relaxed standards.
Stop right here.
There is a reason our friend Mark Levin’s book Ameritopia is meeting with such bestselling success in this 2012 campaign season. We discussed it here and have every intention of using it as a guide to current events throughout the year.
Last night’s Obama State of the Union is exhibit A of Ameritopia at work.
After outlining in detail the eternal and historical left-wing quest for utopia as “the ideological and doctrinal foundation for statism,” Levin underlines that:
[U]topianism has long promoted the idea of a paradisiacal existence and advanced concepts of pseudo ‘ideal’ societies in which a heroic despot, a benevolent sovereign, or an enlightened oligarchy claims the ability and authority to provide for all the needs and fulfill all the wants of the individual — in exchange for his abject servitude.
With this as the ideological/doctrinal utopian foundation of the left, Levin writes at length about the reality of this in modern America. The “massive administrative state…an army of bureaucrats…highly compensated….” Etc. And the task at hand for this American utopian army? “It monitors daily life and attempts to mechanically extinguish risk, dissimilarity, and choice, as well as that which has become routine and acceptable, in pursuit of societal perfection.”
What has Mark Levin just described there?
That’s right. He has nailed exactly the driving force behind that one single sentence from the Obama State of the Union speech.
In the quest to create a utopian society of homeowners — home owning as a stand-alone a fine thing — the Ameritopians of the Carter era changed the banking rules in 1977. Banking rules that were in fact utopian rules from earlier times in American history. Come 1993 and the dawn of the Clinton era, and — shocker — there was no utopian society of homeowners as a result of Carter’s utopian banking rules. So, but of course, in another yet another quest for utopia, the Clinton utopians changed the Carter utopian banking rules. Launching Levin’s “army of bureaucrats” in the “massive administrative state” that was the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the Clintonites set out anew on the latest utopian quest.
They failed. The financial crisis exploded in 2008 as a result. And so… what?
So now President Obama stands in front of the Congress last night sorrowfully announcing (without mentioning any names, of course) that the promised land of utopia in housing has not been found. He says, without a hint of irony: “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.”
Well, duh. Another attempt at utopia hasn’t worked as promised. And what does Obama propose to do?
Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last…
Meaning? Meaning…now we are supposed to all build Obama’s idea of utopia!
That’s what last night was about, in short. The latest of an endless line of utopian prophecies from yet another leftist insisting he’s the guy who can at long last create the perfect utopian society — and oh by the way, who cares that this has zero to do with the Constitution of the United States or the Declaration of Independence?
This is the real problem in 2012 — and in reality, always.
Somebody somewhere is always trying to sell a utopian bill of goods — a bill of goods guaranteed for failure precisely because there is no such thing as utopia.
That wasn’t the President of the United States on your television screens last night.
That was the President of Ameritopia.
Whatever unfolds this primary season — Newt, Romney, Santorum, other — all understand somewhere in their bones that they are running for President of the United States of… America.