Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why the New York Times likes Mel Watt

The New York Times backed U.S. Rep. Mel Watt's nomination to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in an editorial today. The Times argues that Watt, a Democrat from Charlotte, has a keen understanding of both what the banks need and what underwater borrowers need as the housing market tries to right itself. Watt, the paper says, would "take a smarter, more forceful approach" to mortgage relief than the current director, Edward DeMarco, has.
Watt, the paper concludes, "has what it takes to explain and carry out policies to help revive credit and provide long overdue assistance to homeonwers."  

The Times' editorial is below. The Charlotte Observer backed Watt's nomination last week.

Mr. Watt, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

There are many reasons to be bullish on housing. Valuations, affordability and supply and demand are moving in the right direction. But there are also causes for concern. Home sales and home prices can rise only so far given today’s high level of unemployment and low level of wage gains. And millions of homeowners are still in financial distress. At the end of 2012, some 11.3 million homeowners — nearly one-fourth of all those with a mortgage — still owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth, according to Moody’s Analytics. Of those, three million are currently in or near foreclosure.
Against that backdrop, President Obama has nominated Representative Melvin Watt, a Democrat of North Carolina, to be the next director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the overseer of the government-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
As a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Watt has long been a champion of homeownership and credit availability. Before credit standards were abandoned in the lending of the bubble years, careful efforts by Mr. Watt and other policy makers had prudently expanded homeownership to middle- and low-income families, without the negative consequences of the subprime era. Reviving those successful efforts, while averting the dangers, should be a priority for the next director of the agency.
As a representative from North Carolina, whose district includes parts of Charlotte, the home of Bank of America, Mr. Watt is also aware of the needs and demands of banks. He has been criticized for taking campaign donations from the financial industry, though, sadly, it is hard to find a politician who doesn’t accept special-interest money. But Mr. Watt has shown a willingness to act in the public interest — and to compromise skillfully across the aisle. During debates over the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill in 2010, he was instrumental in passing core mortgage reforms, including rules to improve and enforce underwriting standards to protect borrowers and the public from reckless lending.
The question, of course, is whether Mr. Watt can be confirmed in a Senate where Republicans block nominees for the sake of doing so. For some time, many Republicans have insisted that the most important housing issue is the privatization of Fannie and Freddie, which have been under government control since their bailout in 2008.
The debate over the future of Fannie and Freddie is legitimate, but premature. Currently, Fannie and Freddie and other federal agencies guarantee about 90 percent of new mortgages. Banks and other private sector lenders are simply in no position to fill that role anytime soon.
A confirmation hearing should focus on the real, near-term priorities for Fannie and Freddie, especially the need to ensure the flow of ample mortgage credit and to provide relief to hard-pressed borrowers.
The current acting director, Edward DeMarco, has been slow to clarify mortgage issues that impair the banks’ willingness to extend credit. He has also stood in the way of principal reductions for underwater borrowers, saying that writing off principal would be against the taxpayer interest. Mr. Watt’s record indicates that he would take a smarter, more forceful approach to mortgage relief. Research by the Congressional Budget Office confirms that principal write-downs would save the government money and reduce foreclosure and delinquency rates.
Mr. Watt has what it takes to explain and carry out policies to help revive credit and provide long overdue assistance to homeowners — if only the Senate will give him the chance.


kantstanzya said...

This is funny but not surprising. Mel Watt is given a pass for taking campaign donations from the big banks. In his case "it is hard to find a politician who doesn't accept special interest money"...so O.K. If he were a Republican he would be "in the pockets of" and "on the take from" financial special interests.

As usual, for Democrats it is not necessary to "walk the walk" as long as you "talk the talk."

Reggie Mantle said...


Straight White Men = All bad

Everyone Else = All good

Don't you get MSNBC?

Wiley Coyote said...

Typical Democrat hypocrisy.

TAGGLINE said...

The predictable rants by these quasi-patriot-wingnuts are so tedious, they smell of old gym socks. Follow The Money in EVERY camp, folks. R/D Black/White/Purple/Green...Politicians are no more than traffic cops and middle managers for the elites. So, if we want to dig ourselves out of the self-loathing/pitying tripe we read/write at every turn, then empower yourselves to learn how to "breathe underwater" ...and start some grass roots (no, not the TEA/Party lunacy 'mission') action, and raise a little hell. Nothing like a work stoppage, or a moratorium or any number of civil disobedience actions to shake up the status quo...

matt willson said...

mel watt NC was a name released b the socialist party of america asbieng a member of the socialist party of america....hmmm


Skippy said...

2:12, we don't need lectures from mouth breathers... Watt is a racist bigot, yes that may be redundant, but he blocked all reforms of Freddie and Fannie, he is the problem and now the clown in the White House has just promoted incompetance.. Glad you voted for it, now pat yourself on the back.

Shamash X said...

Another Socialist rises to power in this administration.

No surprises here.

Charles said...

The NYT likes Watt because they're both controlled by Goldman Sachs and other international banking syndicates.

Archiguy said...

2:12: Predictable AND Nasty. These people have no lives that don't revolve around cheering on the buffoons on AM talk radio and then regurgitating every oozing, festering thing that comes out of their mouths. They are the epitome of "low information voters" and their entire lives revolve around being RIGHT. Unfortunately, they're usually wrong.

The fact is that Mel Watt is one of the good guys in Congress and has served admirably. He's at least as qualified as any other appointee to equivalent positions in any administration and has the experience necessary to do a good job in this one. The Times is right on the money with this editorial.

Frank Grady said...

Mel Watt is a good guy if your politics are of the ultra-liberal persuasion, you embrace the loose standards (and big pay) of the crowd that ran FanFed, and, like some of the bozos above, you haven't seen a Republican you like or Dem idea you don't follow like a gosling. He is one of the most overrated pols alive, and therefore adored by nyt and observer.

cooldela1966 said...

Question: Why does the New York Times like Mel Watt?

Answer: Because Obama does.

How simple can it be?

Dolley said...

As this endorsement proves, the capture of The Observer by banking interests is complete - as it has been of Watt for some time. Watts is as dirty as they come, and I only wonder why it took him so long to drop all pretense and follow his former staffers to Wall Street. Sanders Adu. who was subcommittee staff director and chief counsel when Watt was chairman of the Financial Services Committee, now serves as a lobbyist for Wells Fargo. Joyce Brayboy, Watt’s former chief of staff now lobbies for Goldman Sachs. Hilary West, formerly Watt’s legislative counsel, currently lobbies for JP Morgan.
I'd love to hear the O-pinion about how this man, bouht and paid for with Wall Street blood money, could possibly serve the best interests of Main Street.