Not Buying The Cow

I’ve mentioned before that the brain-dead morons at TruthOut are inept at most everything they do, but the one that gets shoved in my face several times a day is how they run their mailing list. Apparently anyone can sign anyone up to get on it, and they don’t bother to verify any of them before you find yourself getting their thrice-daily (if it’s a slow daily) turdlets dumped in your inbox.

Well, every now and then I take a peek at the folder that all their shit gets shoveled into as fast as it arrives, and get reminded of how their idiocy often extends beyond responsible e-mail practices and into the real world. And this one’s a doozy.

The breathless headline: “Freddie Mac Secretly Paid Republican Firm to Kill Regulation.”

That sounded so dumb, I had to read it. (Interesting marketing technique. Perhaps next we’ll see commercials that open with a grisly car accident.)

According to TruthOut and the AP (take THAT with about seventeen tons of salt), back in July of 2005 Freddie Mac hired a Republican-tied lobbying firm, DCI, to convince select Republican senators to oppose a reform bill that would have put tighter regulations on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — three years before they fell apart.

The big scandal, to them, as I read it, is that it was a REPUBLICAN-tied firm that lobbied REPUBLICANS to kill this measure — therefore, it’s the REPUBLICANS fault that Freddie and Fannie fell apart.

That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another, that’s actually more in line with their own facts:

The Republicans on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee were considering a bill by Republican Chuck Hagel to put tighter regulations on Freddie and Fannie. Support was split perfectly on party lines — all the Republicans were in favor of tighter regulation, all the Demcorats were behind leaving Freddie and Fannie de-regulated. And if support stayed that way in the full Senate, then the bill would be dead — while the Republicans held the majority, they didn’t have a “filibuster-proof” 60 votes to get it passed. At least a few Democrats would have to be brought on board.

Conversely, the Democrats didn’t want the vote to go on a purely partisan basis. They wanted some political cover, a few Republicans to switch their votes and join with the Democrats to show that it wasn’t just a purely party-line vote.

Enter Freddie Mac. They, too, wanted the Republican bill defeated so they could go on running off the cliff, so they figured out that helping the Democrats by bringing on board a couple of Republicans would be the best move.

And who better to help convince Republicans than a Republican-tied lobbying firm? After all, lobbyists don’t really have their own agenda; they follow the money, for the most part. So all Freddie Mac had to do was wave enough money and whisper enough of the “right” words, and — bingo! — they had their connection all lined up.

So DCI took their money and got to work. They targeted seventeen Republican senators from thirteen different states, and started working on them. Their goal: to convince them to keep the Hagel bill from ever getting to the floor for a vote.

It cost Freddie Mac about $2 million, but in the end, it worked: Hagel’s bill to tighten regulation of Freddie and Fannie went exactly nowhere. And all the doom-and-gloom predictions of its backers all came true a scant three years later.

So, what the hell does my title have to do with this essay: it’s simple. Freddie Mac paid all that money to convince Republicans, because they didn’t have to buy any support from Democrats.

Every single Democrat was on record opposing Hagel’s bill.

There’s an old saying that I’m sure many of you are familiar with: “why buy the cow, when the milk is free?”

In this case, the Democrats were already on board in keeping Freddie and Fannie free from pesky government oversight. (And it’s no wonder — if you look at the list of the biggest recipients of Freddie and Fannie contributions, it’s very, very heavily laden with Democrats. Further, the ties between Freddie and Fannie and Democratic politics are so thick, it’s almost incestuous.) It was the Republicans who were pushing hard for tighter regulations on those two organizations, who were warning that they were dire danger of collapse, and who were almost uniformly in favor of tightening controls and increasing oversight.

Which is why they needed to be stopped.

And which is why they were.

And which is why Freddie and Fannie fell apart so spectacularly.

Thank you, TruthOut, for letting this Truth get Out. I understand that it was entirely inadvertent, and I’m sure you deeply regret this momentary lapse into honesty. I’m sure you’ll be back to your old ways (“TruthOut — because we’re all out of truth”) in no time. I’m sure that super-secret indictment of Karl Rove will be unsealed any day now.

You betcha.

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