In playing her attack-dog routine again, Ann Coulter – whom I generally don’t listen to because she is an attack dog but now can’t ignore – deflects blame off of McCain’s role in the Keating Five (which I’m not too sure has anything to do with this current debacle) and shifts the entire blame of the financial crisis on “less qualified minority” members. Specifically, all of those people (she doesn’t mention race, per se, but keeps bringing up the word “minority”) who receive food stamps, welfare and unemployment checks.
She rips on the Community Reinvestment Act (1977), designed to make sure that underrepresented people get a fairer shake in loans in communities where banking institutions set up shop and says it was wielded in a way where… well, I’ll let you read her words:
Instead of looking at “outdated criteria,” such as the mortgage applicant’s credit history and ability to make a down payment, banks were encouraged to consider nontraditional measures of credit-worthiness, such as having a good jump shot or having a missing child named “Caylee.”
Threatening lawsuits, Clinton’s Federal Reserve demanded that banks treat welfare payments and unemployment benefits as valid income sources to qualify for a mortgage.
In case you’re thinking, “No, she doesn’t mean that. She’s being sarcastic to prove a point”:
That isn’t a joke — it’s a fact.
But it’s not. Not according to the CRA’s website:
Neither the CRA nor its implementing regulation gives specific criteria for rating the performance of depository institutions. Rather, the law indicates that the evaluation process should accommodate an institution’s individual circumstances. Nor does the law require institutions to make high-risk loans that jeopardize their safety. To the contrary, the law makes it clear that an institution’s CRA activities should be undertaken in a safe and sound manner.
Add to that some other basic, common knowledge such as the fact that the current sub-prime funding crisis did not begin in the 1970’s, when the CRA was enacted, nor in the mid 1990’s when it was modified (under a Democratic president and a Republican House, which Coulter misrepresents). It happened in the 2000’s. Because people who had lots of money wanted more money. And the buying of houses was slowing down. So, lending institutions (which were not under CRA oversight. In fact, they should have been; they needed some direct oversight) decided to risk it for a whole new jump of money and started making up new rules to give substantial loans (which the CRA does not have control over) to people who would not normally be afforded such opportunities. That’s what some conservatives who blame the CRA for subprime mortgages miss.
Yes, that includes minorities, but not necessarily and not primarily. I don’t know anybody on welfare who got a mortgage. I wouldn’t say it never happened, but I would hope to God it didn’t. In this instance, Palin was right – it was by and large the fault of predatory lenders who were willing to lend to people who could not afford on a consistent basis to keep up with their mortgages.
(For more on the sub-prime crisis which led to our current uber-crisis, buy/download “The Big Pile of Money” from This American Life. I just saw it on iTunes. Get it before Steve Jobs goes coocoo bananas and shuts the system down.)
The problem here isn’t just that Coulter is stoopid, mean, vitriolic, racist, xenophobic, sheltered, unqualified, and evil. It’s that we allow her to have a voice. Maybe in some ways I just did too by reacting to her spiteful pile of sh*t. But I fear that a lot of Americans listen to her and think that just because she says a lot of words and that her name is bandied about that means that she’s credible. And then their assumptions are justified. I’ve just heard too much silly nonsense the last half year to believe that the American people are beyond having the racist wool pulled over their eyes.
Update: for more on this story, check the source.