Hillary Clinton wants Congress to put up $30 billion to prop up investors and others who can’t made bets on the housing market and can’t afford their mortgages. Meanwhile, she’s reiterating her call for a five-year freeze on subprime interest rates, an idea with serious potential detriment. Clinton is doing her best to beef up her government-knows-best bona fides by taking a hard line against the financial industry, but even top Obama economics adviser Austan Goolsbee has noted that subprime mortgages, often described as "irresponsible," can and have helped plenty of people.
The fact is, as AEI’s Lawrence Lindsey noted in Congressional testimony a few weeks ago, financial innovation, especially in the housing sector, has a long history of expanding access to homeownership and generally increasing wealth and prosperity. At the same time, with each new cycle of innovation, difficulties inevitably arrive — the first short-term home loans (which became untenable during the Depression), the expansion of American suburbs after WWII (which brought into being the first long-term mortgages and the savings and loan business), the crash of the savings and loan industry in the 70s after decades of stability and success (which resulted in the development of ARMs). Financial innovation is not without turmoil, but no one wants to go back to the days of five-year balloons, in which borrowers are forced to pay back the entire principle after five years.
Anyway: $30 billion? We throw around numbers like that all the time in Washington, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a huge amount of taxpayer money. I think it’s time for the Fat Boys: