RUSH: What exactly did George W. Bush do to “get us into this recession”? It’s just stated and accepted that Bush gave us the recession that we’re in; that Obama inherited a recession, and when he got into office he found that it was much worse than he had been told, much worse than he had realized, much worse than he imagined. So what exactly did George W. Bush do to get us into this recession? Fight two wars? Well, we were already fighting two wars, and we still are. So fighting two wars, is that what he did? How about four wars? George Bush had us in two; now we are in four wars. Did George W. Bush cut taxes? Is that what gave us the recession?
Well, Obama extended the Bush tax cuts last December, so what exactly did Bush do that created this recession? Did Bush increase federal spending too much? He did spend a lot, but whatever Bush spent, Obama has quadrupled it. If what Bush did was so terrible… This is my point: If what Bush did was so terrible and if what Bush did gave us this recession, how come Obama doubling down on what Bush did is somehow going to get us out of it? We all know why we’re in this circumstance; it’s in that book — and you didn’t need to read the book, folks. I mean, you should. It’s the book that I have told you about: “Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon.”
It’s the housing crisis that led us here, the subprime situation in all of the derivatives and ancillaries that flow from it: Fannie Mae, Countrywide, Angelo Mozilo. All of this is traceable to that, and that’s traceable to Bill Clinton, as this book makes clear. As we now know (and it’s also in this book), the Bush administration was tried to regulate this out of existence, meaning the problem. Bush tried to stop this, and Barney Frank and the Democrats basically ate those regulators up, chewed ’em up and spat ’em out in the midst of hearings. We know what led to this recession. It was nationwide lending of money to people that had no way of paying back their loans. And the big question that everybody’s always asked me is: “Well, Rush, how did they make money then?
“How in the world did all these banks make money by lending money, giving mortgages to people couldn’t pay it back?” It’s an excellent question — and I, of course, El Rushbo, have the answer. The banks were up against it. The banks have been accused of predatory lending, and in some instances the Wall Street bankers — very powerful Wall Street bankers — were indeed in bed with Jim Johnson over at Fannie Mae and with Clinton and then with Obama. It’s crony capitalism, what have you. But Janet Reno is on record with threatening banks with massive investigations if they did not continue to make these loans under the Community Redevelopment Act, whatever it was called. The question is: “Okay, you’re loaning people to money that can’t pay it back.
“Where in the world is the profit in that? If nobody can service the loan, if they can’t make it back how do you make any money?” Good question. Here’s how it happened. All of these mortgages which were required to be made were sitting there and, as individual mortgages, were worthless. So what happened, as simply as I can explain this, is that in the public sector — and then there was a first instance of this in the private sector. I forget the name of the bank. The book mentions it. These mortgages were pooled. All of these disparate mortgages were pooled into one bundle, or a series of large bundles. You could say a security, a mortgage-backed security of say $130 million.
“Okay, but I still don’t understand, Rush. If you got $130 million total mortgages, and nobody can pay ’em back. How do you make any money?” Well, you sell the mortgages to Fannie Mae, which is a government-sponsored enterprise. It’s ostensibly a private sector enterprise with government ties. But the way it worked was this: When the government’s involved, nobody loses money. The government’s good for anything! If somebody blows up, the government bail ’em out. Fannie Mae will take care of it, and that’s what happened. If they package these… From the standpoint of the bankers, they knew that they were sitting on worthless paper, all of these loans and mortgages.
So they tried to come up with ways to make it profitable. They package these bundles (these pools of mortgages), call it a security, and then they sell this to the unwitting. Just like the unwitting buy lemons and the unwitting buy all kinds of stupid stuff, you go out and you package these mortgages and you promise this giant income stream. You say, “By the way, it’s backed by the federal government. No sweat here,” and you pass it on to investors. Then each series of investors, at some point, realizes they’ve bought a bill of goods, worthless paper; and at each stage, the latest crew of investors, realizing they’ve been taken, tries to come up with a new way of monetizing these things so that they’re worth something, and they can sell them to somebody else.
That kept happening until everybody knew what was going on and there was no money there. The only thing that could happen was constant, continual bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There never was any real income associated with these things, yet the people who pooled them and packaged them and sold them made out like bandits selling worthless paper. The people at the tail end of this are the ones that got stung, just like the bondholders at Chrysler got stung in the government takeover and the bondholders at GM got stung in the government takeover. They were the ones told they were greedy in wanting their money back. So that’s how people made money.
They didn’t make money on the mortgages themselves. They didn’t make any money on people paying off the loans. There was no income stream from all these people who were incapable of paying a loan because they were never qualified. The income came from pooling or packaging and selling these mortgage-backed securities to the unwitting — who, by the way, never knew they were unwitting. I mean, these were not doofuses; these were equally smart people. At the end of the day on all of this stuff, “Well, it’s all backed by the government! Eventually this is all gonna be made whole. The government’s backing all this up; the government’s behind it.”
And if the government bails anybody out once you figure it will happen again, which is the problem with bailouts, but then the government decided not to bail out Bear Stearns. They decided to let Bear Stearns go belly up, and that is when abject panic set in. Hello, TARP! Hello, money to make all of this worth something because it was totally worthless. The subprime, all of these packaged pools of mortgages were worthless, from the get-go! You had Democrat Party social justice, social policy, the American dream being realized by more and more people, the Democrat Party getting credit for making home ownership possible. You had racial tensions here by getting rid of the redlining practices.
It was all made to order for everything Democrat, so they could benefit from having people in homes that could no longer (or never) pay for them and let it be known it was the Democrat Party that made that possible. Then when — as it always does in anything like this — there’s no money in something, it was exposed. Eventually the Madoff Ponzi scheme is exposed. The Social Security Ponzi scheme is going to be exposed the same way. The Medicare Ponzi scheme is going to be exposed the same way. At that point, what happened is that Hank Paulson and the boys said, “You know what? I can’t let my boys on Wall Street eat this.
“So we’re gonna go in there and we’ll make this massive claim for TARP money, $700 billion and we’ll say that we gotta do this to save the entire financial system of the world. Not just the country but the world, and we’ll do this right during the presidential campaign,” and it worked well. McCain suspends his campaign to deal with the crisis. Obama takes over the meeting. McCain effectively ends his chances along with ending his campaign. The money comes forward. Bush is involved, too. He’s read the Riot Act. He’s told, “If you don’t do this, it’s a disaster.” I remember I had to go appear at a function and there happened to be a couple US senators there in the midst of all this, and I asked one, “Is this financial system really this bad?”
“Oh, yeah. Rush, it’s worse than even what you’ve heard.”
“It is? Really?”
“Yeah, it’s horrible out there. We had to do this TARP thing. If we hadn’t done this I shudder to think. Rush, there might not be a US financial system right now.”
I said, “Well, my only problem with that is they told us that and they said we had 24 hours, and it was voted down at first. It took two or three weeks for the TARP thing to actually get voted on and funded and passed. How did we survive those two to three weeks?”
“Well, we survived ’cause people knew the money would eventually be coming. It was really bad out there, Rush.”
Well, it wasn’t. Well, it was but it was a scheme to make whole all these people who had acted under government orders to make loans to people that couldn’t pay ’em back. “How do we make ’em whole again?” Well, we’ll just bail ’em out. The Fed will print some money. Remember up to this point, too, the Fed had already printed and lent $2 trillion. At that time they wouldn’t tell us to whom. So, tell me again what Bush did to cause this recession? I mean, that’s the point of all this. What did Bush do to cause the recession? That’s Gibbs’ point, the Democrats’ point, Obama’s point: “Well, Democrats are the only ones that can save us! Republicans drove the car in the ditch. It’s the Bush recession!” Well, what exactly was the Bush recession? What did he do to get us into this?
Fight two wars?
Fine, we’re fighting four now.
Well, Obama extended the Bush tax cuts last December.
Did Bush engage in too much federal spending?
Well, yeah — and Obama has quadrupled it!
Whatever Bush did, Obama has doubled down and multiplied it three or four times, and yet Bush did all this? Obama is just double down on what he claims got us into the recession. He tripled down on us, if you will. In many ways the housing collapse was a lot like the savings and loan crisis in the eighties. People were making money on bad loans ’cause they knew they had government as their ultimate backstop, until the guys at the very end of the trail — and that’s when it required intervention. When you couldn’t find any more suckers to buy the bad paper — like a pyramid scheme, when you couldn’t find any more suckers to buy the bad paper — Hello, TARP! Hello government bailing everybody out! That’s what it was. Under the guise of saving the US financial system. I joked at the time that what Paulson was doing was making sure his Wall Street buddies held onto their homes in the Hamptons, and I was closer to being right than I even knew at the time.
RUSH: Mr. Snerdley just asked me a question. And it’s a good question. Snerdley wanted to know what woulda happened if these bad loans had just been allowed to fail and people would have been evicted, what woulda happened? Well, it would have been bad, but it wouldn’t have caused anywhere near a financial crisis, wouldn’t have been anything. If all of those subprime mortgages could have just been left alone to fail as they were destined to because they were given to people that could not ever pay ’em back, you would not have had a housing crisis. Not a crisis. You wouldn’t have had anything like we’ve got now.
The reason that we’ve got this mess is not just because money was lent to people that couldn’t pay it back; it is because the people who were forced to make those loans came up with products to try to make their paper worth something. Hence, like I said, the pooling of all those mortgages into what was called a mortgage-backed security. You pool $130 million worth of mortgages into a single security and you run out, sell it, and you tell people, “Yeah, the income stream from this value, look, you can retire, set for the rest of your life. Real estate never goes down. We’re never gonna lose value here,” and so forth. And all of that plus you’ve heard the term “derivatives.” That’s above my pay grade to explain, but the derivatives of the mortgage-backed securities, it was just another way to pass off the loss to somebody else, to get somebody to buy your loss from you so that you’re somewhat whole if not fully whole, and you hoodwink whoever is buying it.
The end of the trail, that final buyer realizes he’s been had, that’s when you go to TARP. And that’s when you go to the federal government, bail everybody out. Jimmy Carter, same thing. The savings and loan crisis, Jimmy Carter extended federal deposit insurance on accounts from $40,000 to a hundred thousand dollars to help the poor. What happened then was that the, quote, unquote, smart guys just exploited that and they bundled their shaky loans into $100,000 bundles in order to get the government protection. But Carter’s motivation was to make it easier for more people to get home ownership, just like the Community Redevelopment Act was. I mean that’s the stated purpose, social justice, the American dream.
You know, it’s hard to believe now, but there was a time in America, before Clinton and Carter, where buying mortgages used to be seen as one of the safest investments a bank could make. And the reason was, to get a mortgage you had to have skin in the game, you had to have 20% of your own assets to put down minimum. Before you could get a mortgage on a house you had to have 20% of what you were going to borrow, you had to stick it in yourself. That’s the point, it’s zero percent now, in some places three and a half percent. You had FHA for a time, you could get in at 5%. Now it’s zero, that’s the whole subprime, it was zero percent. The derivatives, what they were was a form of insurance to back up the worthlessness of the pool. You were selling insurance.
Although it was unknown at the time, it was like selling fire insurance when half the house has already burned to the ground and still flaming. Banks did it out of desperation. They were forced into this, and they were doing whatever they could do, inventing all these products so that they wouldn’t be the one to eat this. And that’s why we’re where we are. Liberal Democrat social justice policies. That’s why you are losing your job or have lost it. That is why.
RUSH: Fred in Homer, Alaska. Fred, I really appreciate you holding on. You’re going to help me to explain to people how people in the mortgage business make money with dead-end loans.
CALLER: I will do my best, sir.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: When I was in the business, we would originate a loan. So I would find a borrower.
RUSH: Are we talking conventional, subprime? What kind of loan are you talking about?
CALLER: Well, I’m gonna talk about both. It kind of applies to both.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: But the subprime is where it really got out of hand because they allowed the lending parameters to expand to such a degree that anybody could get a loan.
CALLER: They could state their income, they could say whatever they wanted, and they would get the loan as long as there was a way — you know, you’d look at the amount of money they’re bringing in each month to see if — they could actually make the payment.
RUSH: No, you did even look at that, did you?
CALLER: Well, I did, because —
RUSH: You didn’t look at the past. You tried to guesstimate the future?
CALLER: Well, I wouldn’t allow someone to take a loan that was not in their best interests but there were others who did and that’s a story for another day.
RUSH: Well, but some of those people were forced to by government policy.
CALLER: Well, that’s on the bank side.
CALLER: But as an originator, still being in the free market, I had the choice whether or not I would work with somebody or not. Does that make sense?
RUSH: No, not to me. I don’t know what you mean. How do you differ from a bank?
CALLER: Well, because I’m an originator, and I would find a client. Someone come to my office and say, “I want to buy a home” or “I want to refinance my home,” and if —
RUSH: Okay, what kind of…? Are you a savings and loan, or what is it?
CALLER: I’m a private shop. I have my own little mortgage company, and I would —
CALLER: — place my loans with the Lehman Brothers or the Wells Fargos or the Countrywides.
RUSH: I got it. So you’re a mortgage broker, essentially.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: So what happens is — I’m gonna use the figure of $150,000 to keep it simple — someone wants to come in and take out a loan for $150,000 at the 7% interest. Principal and interest on that payment, rounding it up, is right about $1,000 a month. So as an originator I would charge a 1% origination fee so I would make $1,500. Now, that 7% loan, if I would place that loan to the lender, that would be a “par pricing loan,” meaning they don’t pay me anything to give that figure — or that interest rate — nor do I charge my borrower anything for that interest rate. Now, if someone wanted a lesser interest rate, they could pay more money against it, but if I wanted to give them a higher interest rate, the lender that I was placing the loan with would actually give me what they call a “yield spread premium.” Does that make sense so far?
CALLER: So, if I wanted to place that 7% loan at 8%, the lender would actually pay me another $1,500, so I could make $3,000 on that loan.
RUSH: Before anybody made a single payment?
CALLER: Exactly. Now, the bottom line is most people that take out mortgages would make their payments for six months, a year, two years, three years, four years. Because property values continued to go up, people kept pulling more money out of their houses and refinancing and putting that money into their pocket. So they would continue to make this thousand-dollar-a-month payment of which 97% of it, approximately, was interest only.
CALLER: So let’s just use a 12-month time frame. So if the lender pays me $1,500, I charge the borrower $1,500, well, the lender gets his money back in a month and a half; and then for the next ten and a half months, he’s making $1,000 a month on that loan. So they didn’t lose any money. Plus, they still have the actual real property as collateral. So if and when the borrower defaulted, they still had the real estate. But it really didn’t matter because Fannie and Freddie ultimately were the ones that would buy these bundles that were speaking about previously, so the government would not allow the banks to get hurt. They wouldn’t allow people like me to get hurt because the government was buying up all the paper, but it gets back to this: The government’s out to help the little guy get into a property, and they put the burden of payment on the little guy; and they get fleeced because they pay out all this money, and then they lose their home and they’re out all this money, and the brokers and the banks and all the intermediaries that sell these loans back to Fannie, make money on the back of the American people again. That’s how it gets paid for.
RUSH: Even with people who aren’t making the monthly payment though?
CALLER: Well, that didn’t happen right away.
RUSH: I know it didn’t happen right away.
CALLER: People would get in and they would honestly make their effort, and my experience was that very few people defaulted until the economy got to where it is today. You see? Back then… I’ve been out of the business for four years, and I told my wife when we moved here to Alaska, “You think that the savings and loan bailout back in the eighties was something? You haven’t seen anything yet. You wait to see what’s coming around with this group,” and they’re getting ready to do it again. So, it’s crazy.
RUSH: Well, but at some point people did stop making payments on their loans, and you’re right: At the height of that, I remember the number that was bandied about was that 95% were still making their payments on their mortgages.
RUSH: Yet the whole industry was being tarnished by the 5% that had just checked out and were not making their payments.
CALLER: As is almost always the case, they shine the light on the bad apple to spoil the whole bunch, and that’s how they did it. It’s always the small percentages — whether it’s in mortgage or money or gay rights or against religion, they shine the light on that little teeny percentage — to run and govern this country, and it’s wrong.
RUSH: You make a great point. Newt Gingrich last night made that very point, and I thought he made it brilliantly last night. He was very frustrated by a question from John King. I forget what the question was about, but Newt objected to the premise. He said (paraphrasing), “We’ve got to get away from this notion that virtually every decision we make is catastrophic. We have to get away from this idea that everything happening in this country is a catastrophe. It isn’t. But if we’re gonna treat everything as a catastrophe, we’re gonna be making wrong decisions and we’re gonna react in entirely wrong ways.”
I’m gonna ask Cookie if she can find that answer because I’m paraphrasing it here and I really want the question. It was a question about immigration, I think, and it was about… Oh! That’s what it was. The question was about deporting 20 million people. Newt said, “We’re not gonna deport 20 million people! Nobody’s ever said this. You know, we have a legitimate problem here. We cannot deal with these things where every solution is catastrophic. These are not the only options that we have here.” So, Cookie, see if you can find that question and answer. Just keyword search “Gingrich” and “catastrophic.” It took place in the second hour of the debate, I’m pretty sure. Fred, thanks for the call. I appreciate it.
RUSH: Here’s Jose in Miami. Great to have you with us, Jose. Nice to have you on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Rush, thank you for taking my call. The question I have, you were talking earlier about the auto bailouts, and one thing which I’ve always — well, we know the story as far as the A and the Z: You know, the government got involved and at the end we had these bailouts. And in between I understand that the government strong-armed some of the bondholders, secured creditors, whatnot, you know, that they were too greedy. But what I want to know, I’m silly in the sense that I do believe in the rule of law, how is it that a bankruptcy court signed off on what occurred? What’s the inside story, what happened? How did the government do what it did?
RUSH: You mean how did Obama get away with basically shafting the bondholders?
CALLER: Correct, I mean from a legal standpoint, if you know.
RUSH: Well, I know this is gonna sound simplistic, but he was the president, and he was the one who suggested it. This was, as it turned out, the only formula that would work. How did he get away with firing the CEO of GM before he took it over? That’s what he did.
CALLER: Also, how is it that the judges that presided over these cases, how is it that they are the arbiters? How is it they permitted this to occur? It boggles my mind.
RUSH: Well, gosh, you could ask that about probably every legal case that comes down the pike. How is it that we had judges that have agreed that Al-Qaeda terrorists are due rights granted to them by the Constitution when they’re not citizens? And that happened as well. But with Chrysler and the bondholders what was going on here, they’re in big trouble. First off, people may not know what a bondholder is. You can invest in companies in a number of ways. You could buy stock; you can buy bonds in a company, and those are considered a more solid investment than even stock. We’re talking about real, direct supporters, investors in this case of Chrysler, is who we’re talking about. And when it was apparent that Chrysler was gonna be taken over, the bondholders said, “Hey, in any bankruptcy proceeding, we want to be taken care of, too.” And Obama said you’re being greedy.
The bondholders were told to pound sand because the objective was — throw legalities out, I mean we’re talking liberals here — the objective was to give the company over to the AFL-CIO, and that’s really who ended up with General Motors and Chrysler, so that their health care programs would be solvent, their pensions would be solvent and so that they would have some ownership stake in the companies. Now, I’m gonna have to go back and read stories as to how the judge allowed it to happen, but I think you basically have the president of the United States dictating how it’s gonna be and that’s how it was.
CALLER: The way it was played out in the media, I mean, strong-armed by Obama, and I mean I don’t doubt that that’s what happened, but I can’t believe that —
RUSH: Yeah, it was, it was played out in the media exactly that way, but part of that was that the bondholders were greedy to want their money back when everybody else was pounding sand, everybody else was having trouble, the bondholders were looked at as greedy. It allowed Obama to play the class envy card.
CALLER: That’s true, I mean but basically the rule of law was set aside. The freedom of contract was also just squashed.
RUSH: It was! I mean that’s what was so outrageous about it. But what was somebody gonna do? At this point in time you have to remember, Obama is still universally loved. This is shortly into the regime. Everybody is still viewing him as The Messiah. It was an emergency. We were talking about saving General Motors, saving Chrysler, saving the US automobile industry. We were talking about saving the country. Don’t forget the circumstances that were attached to this.
CALLER: Well, I do, but had they truly wanted to save them, they would have freed them from these legacy costs and all the union contracts and —
RUSH: Yeah, and if Obama really wanted the economy to grow he wouldn’t have done the stimulus and he wouldn’t be raising taxes. You could say that about virtually every policy that he has implemented and conceived.
CALLER: By the way, what do you think he means when he tells his supporters that he’s not finished, that he hasn’t finished the job? I mean what is he thinking?
RUSH: He’s letting them know that he is aware that he has not succeeded to the extent they had hoped and he needs more time. He hasn’t totally destroyed what he has set out to destroy. He hasn’t given us full-fledged single payer health care. He hasn’t come through with closing Guatemala. He has not succeeded yet in getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He hasn’t, but that’s all gonna happen if we’re just patient and give him more time.
CALLER: Well, he cannot be gone soon enough as far as I’m concerned.
RUSH: Exactly right, for the sake of the country. This is why, again, I start cringing a little bit when I hear people on my side start getting themselves into pretzels over whether or not our people are qualified, over whether or not our candidates are qualified. Everybody on that debate stage last night would be infinitely better by a factor of ten over what we have now. It’s not even close. Somebody who has never been in politics but who knows the Constitution of the United States would do better for the country than who we have now. I don’t know how else to illustrate this. A full-fledged rookie but one who loves, appreciates, understands the Constitution, the rule of law would be an improvement over the bunch that’s in charge of our country today. That’s how dire this is. That’s why I say I’d vote Elmer Fudd if he’s on the ballot.
Now, the Chrysler deal was appealed. The General Motors deal was not. The Chrysler deal was appealed. That appeal was upheld by a circuit court and then refused a hearing by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court refused to hear it. Now, it was the Chrysler bondholders who were pushing the appeals because they were basically shafted by it, and the appeals process finally stopped when the Supreme Court refused to hear it. Plain and simple.
RUSH: Robert, Lakeland, Florida. Great to have you on the EIB, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Rush, what a pleasure, what a pleasure.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: I’m a lending professional here in Lakeland. I’ve been in the business for about eleven years, and really appreciate everything you’re doing for us. Don’t run for office, Rush.
RUSH: No. No way.
CALLER: You’re the only solid voice in the system, so thank you.
RUSH: You bet.
CALLER: But I just wanted to throw something out here. There’s quite a few changes that have occurred, and I wanted to go on the back of three points back with the gentleman who was the mortgage professional and to kind of add where he was. He said the last time he was in the business was four years ago, and I want him to know — and I want everybody in the country to know — the changes that have actually occurred in the lending practices and what has been perpetrated on the back end of the so-called little guy. FHA is under a greater control; changes have occurred. You know, in the Fannie Mae debacle that we’ve had, Frank and Dodd supposedly stood up and they brought all of these wonderful processes forward to restrict lending and to change the way that we actually lend to the people of America.
RUSH: Right, all for “the benefit of the consumer.”
CALLER: Exactly, and that is not what has happened. What has actually happened and what people do not understand is, Rush, if you go and buy a house, what kind of lending do you use?
CALLER: Conventional, right? If you were to buy a house with a loan — which you don’t need money, but if you were to buy a house with a loan — you would use a conventional-style loan, correct?
CALLER: Because it’s the cheapest. It’s the least amount of money out of pocket —
RUSH: Right. Exactly.
CALLER: — and so forth with the fees that are associated with it.
CALLER: Well, recently the small guy has had an increase on the amount of money that is required down. They increased it in the fall of last year.
RUSH: To how much?
RUSH: That’s not bad. It used to be 20%.
CALLER: That’s right. Well, now let’s talk about FHA.
RUSH: Oh, you’re talking FHA.
CALLER: I want to talk FHA with you and what I want you to understand is the small guys — who were these small individuals who were in the country — they’re not able to buy the larger size homes. They don’t have that 20% down. So what Frank and Dodd has tried to convince the American people of is that they’re out here giving greater consideration to all these people that were taken advantage of during the subprime lending.
RUSH: I know, and it basically restarts that.
RUSH: I know. You know, not everybody’s intended to be in a house. This is why the 20% mattered. The 20% mattered to have skin in the game so that it would be something that you would approach responsibly.
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