ETHICAL ISSUES THAT NEED TO BE RESOLVED -- (House of Representatives - March 17, 2009)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. SCALISE. Well, I want to thank my friend from Texas for hosting this and really helping unravel the mess, as Americans all across the country are very frustrated, they are angry about what's happening with our economy, they are angry when they read about what happened with AIG. And then I think they get cynical when they see some of the very people who helped create this mess going on all of these talk shows over the weekend, pointing their fingers everywhere else other than themselves and saying it was this administration or that administration.
You can find more than enough blame to go around, but if you really go back to the root--and I think you've started to touch on it--the problems that existed with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, going back to the Community Reinvestment Act, going back to the 1990s when a gentleman who represented part of my State from Louisiana, Richard Baker from Baton Rouge, who actually sat on the Financial Services Committee, he had the guts to go and take on Fannie and Freddie back in the 1990s, and he exposed all of this. And this is all out there on the Internet, it's information you can actually go and verify. You can look at those hearings--and many Americans already have. And for those who haven't, it would be a really good history lesson to go back and look at those hearings that he had as he was calling on the government to finally reform these institutions who were being encouraged--not by some bank on Wall Street, not by George W. Bush, this goes back to the Clinton administration--but it was people in Congress, some people who are right now chairmen of these very committees that have oversight, and he was fighting and saying we have got to reform Fannie and Freddie because this entire situation is going to melt down.
We've got institutions that are encouraging people, using the strength of the Federal Government, encouraging people to give out loans to people who don't have the ability to pay. And Members of Congress who are in leadership positions today were giving edicts to Fannie and Freddie saying go out and give those loans to people who don't have any ability to pay, when people all across our country--people in my district, your district--people who are playing by the rules today go out and want to get a home mortgage, they have to prove their ability to pay, they have to prove that they've got equity, they have to put up maybe 20 percent, they've got to fill out a bunch of forms. And ultimately they make their payments. Over 90 percent of the people in this country, even in these tough economic times today, are making their payments on their mortgage. Yet, you have a small group of people--some who actually lied on their application, but some who were encouraged by the Federal Government to get loans that they didn't have the ability to pay by these institutions, Fannie and Freddie. And people like Richard Baker, back in the 1990s, were saying we've got to reform this corrupt system. And yet, some of the very people who are now yelling at the top of their lungs at the top of this Capitol saying, blame this guy and blame that guy, they were there defending Fannie and Freddie. And it's all out there on the Internet, you can actually go and see it.
And yet, when you look at what happened with AIG just 2 weeks ago--and of course, again, you've got the record to go and check it--President Obama's spokesperson was asked about the next $30 billion that the Federal Government released to AIG. And they said, what do you think about the money that AIG has already gotten so far, the $150 billion they had already gotten; they said, do you think that that money has been spent properly? And the White House actually said yes. They said, yes, we think AIG has done good things with the money.
Now, clearly AIG has not. AIG has been caught giving bonuses, hundreds of millions of dollars--up to $6.5 million for some executives--in bonuses with taxpayer money. And some of those very same people are yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs. And we are all outraged, but Americans that are outraged are looking at this and they are getting very cynical because they are saying, wait a minute, we can actually go back and unravel this, we can look and see some of these same people. And those of us who voted against the financial bailout last year because we knew this was the wrong approach, we knew giving taxpayer money to help these financial groups on Wall Street who made irresponsible decisions, we knew that was bad public policy, but yet some of those very same people who voted to give the money are now yelling about how the money is being spent, even though they allowed the money to be spent that way. It was a wrong approach then. We should have never done it. We're seeing how flawed that system is now. But I think people across the country, they do get it. They are seeing what's happening out there and they are realizing that some of these very same people that are yelling at the top of their lungs and expressing outrage were the ones who actually voted to give that taxpayer money away.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT