From a profile of Barney Frank in the latest New Yorker.
According to Frank, at the root of the real-estate crisis was a misguided notion that homeownership should be available to all people—what President Bush has called “the ownership society.” . . .
Frank pointed out that when [Scott] Garrett [R-NJ] had attempted to tighten regulations on Fannie and Freddie, Republicans had controlled the House. “Had a Republican majority been in favor of passing that bill, they would have done it,” Frank said. . . .
In other words, Frank insisted, if the Republicans had wanted to try to prevent the mortgage crisis, they would have had plenty of opportunities to do so. . . .
Frank’s prescience on the housing crisis should not be overstated, because Fannie and Freddie represented only one aspect of the problem. “Fannie and Freddie were contributors to the bubble, but they came late in the really bad loans, after the private issuers like Merrill and Citigroup,” Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, said. “The law probably would have curtailed their lending, but it’s hard to say it would have made any difference. The real problem was outside of Fannie and Freddie, with the banks, and nobody in Congress was talking about it.” . . .