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Bloomberg vs. Occupy Wall Street

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Posted on Nov 6, 2011
DonkeyHotey (CC-BY)

By Joe Conason

Americans listen when Michael Bloomberg speaks, not only because he is the mayor of New York City, but because he is a self-made billionaire and a smart guy. People think Bloomberg knows a lot about business and investment, which he surely does. But he nevertheless sounds terribly misinformed sometimes, as he did the other day—when he complained that Occupy Wall Street is unfairly blaming the nation’s big bankers for the crash and recession, when the real culprits are Congress and the government-sponsored housing lenders, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis,” said the mayor. “It was, plain and simple, Congress, who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. ... But they were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody.”

It was Bloomberg’s misfortune to blurt those remarks a day before the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, whose offices are only blocks away from City Hall, announced that the Justice Department is suing Allied Home Mortgage Corp. for perpetrating a gigantic, decade-long fraud, in violation of federal regulations and statutes, that cost the government at least a billion dollars and forced thousands of American families out of their homes.

Indeed, if the mayor only read the fine news service that carries his name he would know that such massive frauds in the private sector were behind the financial crisis—and that his friends on Wall Street made billions by “securitizing” those bad loans—and then brought down the world economy when their game could no longer be sustained.

Nobody in Congress and nobody at Fannie or Freddie forced them to do that.

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The most authoritative studies, notably the final report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission—which examined many other academic and think-tank works—have demonstrated that whatever their other problems, Fannie and Freddie were not the most significant contributors to the subprime disaster. More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006, for instance, were issued by private lending institutions, including 82 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers.

Nor were Fan and Fred—or Congress, for that matter—culpable in the enormous crime wave of mortgage fraud that engulfed states like Florida, Arizona and California, which would keep a special prosecutor busy for the next five years if only somebody appointed one.

Bloomberg may also have meant to allude to the Community Reinvestment Act, an even more favored target of Republicans (since many of them have partaken of Fannie and Freddie’s largesse, just like their Democratic brethren in Washington). But again, there is simply no evidence that the CRA played a major role in the mortgage meltdown—or the slicing and dicing of mortgage derivatives that spread the contagion to every major bank in the United States and many across the world.

Nothing in the act, designed to encourage lending in poor communities, required the excessively leveraged, insufficiently overseen “creative financing” that caused the crisis. The institutions that originated the great majority of the riskiest mortgages, as economist Robert Gordon showed conclusively, weren’t even covered by the CRA.

So much for the mayor’s cheap shot against the Occupy protesters, whose encampment in Lower Manhattan he considers inconvenient. He may want them to leave; he may eventually force them to leave. But their message—that Wall Street’s perpetrators of the crisis have escaped accountability and profited obscenely, instead—is undeniable no matter what he says or does.

Joe Conason is the editor in chief of NationalMemo.com.

© 2011 Creators.com


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By Howard, November 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

Fannie Mae is Most guilty!!
  The encouraged, promoted, lobbied, begged the bigge
banks to LAYOFF all their good and toxic mortgages.
  Ad infinitum.  BECAUSE the top manager and two bums
at the top received bonuses and more pay tied to
gross sales they brought in. Multi-millions each year
in pay.
  Lower staff members who entered their offices over
the years complaining that Fannie mae should not be
handling the increasing number of fraud items from
the equally fraud constucting banks were fired.
  It would be as if we went to the casino and kept
all the winning bets and gave the losing bets to the
taxpayers known as FANNIE MAE.

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By chip, November 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

Fan and Fred did not buy loans from people with no
credit. It was after congress started investigating them in 2002 and Fan and Fred were sidelined that Wall
Street sunk it’s fangs in the mortgage market and
bought ANY and EVERY mortgage the loan originators could write, like STATED income and worse.

Eventually Fan and Fred joined the club.

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By Dr_Snooz, November 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yeah. How can you expect Bloomberg to blame Wall Street
when that’s where his billions come from? Fanny and
Freddy never forced bankers to issue “liar loans,” or
forced Wall Street investment firms to buy billions in
junk mortgages onto their balance sheets while they
chased the mortgage bubble, but hey, since when has
truth mattered to the 1%?

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By felicity, November 9, 2011 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Coincidence?  Clinton signed Glass into oblivion in
1999. Starting in 2000,  the amount of sub-prime
mortgages issued in Mortgage Backed Securities shot up
from $56 billion, in 2000, to $508 billion at the 2005
peak.  Since Bloomberg has become the self-appointed
apologist for the financial sector, we invite him to
analyze and explain (away) this ‘coincidence.’

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, November 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm Link to this comment

A certain cicada buzzed that OWS was at 56% in the polls, and said that proves the Tea Party(with lower approval) was irrelevant because they didnt poll as well, so only OWS represent “the 99%”.

Now that Occupy Wall Street is DOWN to 36% in the polls, and head to head they are less popular than the Tea Party, I wonder if that certain person has anything to say?

I wonder if that certain person can be fair, and will now say that the Occupiers are irrelevant?

I wonder if there is any fact or statistic that makes any difference to a True Believer?

Probably “no” to all three questions.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, November 8, 2011 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Tea baggage has shown to be what it is, shrills for the 1 percent! Case in point, our resident TD swamp boy!

Boy OM, are Tea beggars so really disenfranchised they feel the need to be part of the Kings Jester?

After seeing the Tea Party in action, I will not support them nor the Koch Brothers. Is the Tea Party a brother from an other mother?

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By OzarkMichael, November 8, 2011 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

As things continue to become worse for the many, ... more and more people become to realize they are the 99 percent.

At first it might have been true. Not now. Instead of “more and more”, its becoming less and less.

Anyone who relied so heavily on the polls as if they showed moral superiority of the Occupation over the Tea Party, must eat humble pie. Unless of course the polls and the news and the facts “should not be allowed to overwhelm this genuine and vital movement”. 

But the news and the facts and now the polls show a downward spiral for Occupy Wall Street. The only hope for you is a riskier confrontation where a policeman makes a terrible mistake. You need a “Kent State moment”, which an Occupier admitted. However, straining for those moments by creating risky confrontations makes the Occupation look bad. Its a gamble.

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By Druthers, November 8, 2011 at 3:07 am Link to this comment

The corporations buy Congress but Bloomberg buys the voters.
Which one is cheaper?

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By Leefeller, November 7, 2011 at 10:06 pm Link to this comment

Deceptions and polarizations must keep the common people divided, seems some here even on TD are working hard to make OWS a left and right divisive issue. Provocateurs, or trolls purveyors of misinformation and even lies, little difference to them.  Unfortunately for Bloomberg OWS is a cry for fairness and equality.

Occupy Wall Street is a wake up call to a sleeping giant, for all the people, not just a select few!

Inequality and the disenfranchisement sponsored by the few has been known for years, now things have come to a head, by the over reaching of the manipulators and the apparent inaction of the Political process has made things so much worse for a large segment of the populous.  Awareness from direct affects on the common people,... loosing jobs, homes and more has been ongoing for years now. Now people see the need for action to place their person on the streets to cry for fairness. As things continue to become worse for the many, ... more and more people become to realize they are the 99 percent.

Powers that be will throw every dirty trick at OWS, we see disinformation even lies being sponsored by the provocateurs and deceivers right here on TD.

Occupy Wall Street is not right or left, white or black, gay or straight, choice or not, no Occupy is about social injustice and community, accountability and fairness, inequality and disenfranchisement.

I still say we need to get the money out!

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By Zwyer, November 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You can be sure that Bloomberg was among the few who profited from the
mortgage meltdown, buying up foreclosed properties for pennies on the dollar, if
nothing else.

That said, if you really wanna get that evil ol’ queen’s goat? Let’s call for an
INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT of all tourism in NYC. Seeing as how he loves tourists
far more than he does any of us who actually LIVE here, make no mistake that
even the THREAT of a tourism boycott would definitely get his panties in a twist.

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By OzarkMichael, November 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

Arrest and exploitation (for this reason or that—allegations of “rape”, threats, rumors etc.) as “news” should not be allowed to overwhelm this genuine and vital movement

                          -gerard

Oh yeah, Leftists are big on gaining control of the news, hostorically they didnt ‘allow’ the facts to overwhelm the holy cause. That meant suppressing the truth for the sake of the holy cause. You are advocating agitprop, gerard, did you know that?

Its a bad start, gerard. Why cant you just let the facts be what they are, instead of suppressing them? Let people make up their own minds about what is important and what isnt. Let them hear it all and figure it out for themselves.

You arent in power and you already show a dictatoral stripe.

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By Leefeller, November 7, 2011 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

As much as I dislike absolutism’s for all their self righteous certainty, I feel I cans safely say rubbing elbows as close to being certain as I dare,....Bloomberg should be the the poster boy for the 1 percent!

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By gerard, November 7, 2011 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

In my opinion, those members of the 99% who live in New York, if they support the Occupiers’ goals, need to respond to the Occupiers’ needs for active and realistic majority support, majority sponsorship. If both the Occupiers and the majority of the rest of the 99% more actively helped the movement instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting to see “what will happen”, it could make a huge difference in key issues such as 1. living conditions very difficult to maintain over time and 2. police tendencies to over-react.  Arrest and exploitation (for this reason or that—allegations of “rape”, threats, rumors etc.) as “news” should not be allowed to overwhelm this genuine and vital movement of American citizens trying to reclaim their (and our) extremely inseculre future.

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By Kay Johnson, November 7, 2011 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

Billy Pilgrim: The other day, I watched an interview with James Kunstler, a writer of nonfiction and fiction as well, who said that Bloomberg might be trying to launch a 3rd party campaign. Currently, he is a declared Independent. However, unless I am mistaken, he has been registered, in the past, as both a Republican and as a Democrat—whatever works best for him. Kunstler also stated that behind the scenes, Bloomberg is quietly hiring people who worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. When I “googled,” I found some articles published by the New York Daily News on the subject of Bloomberg possibly throwing his hat into the ring, so to speak.

Since I live in NYC, I am always hearing rumors about Bloomberg running for president. I didn’t ever vote for him for mayor of the city—he has far too much money to be able to identify with the issues most of us face. Since 2000, Manhattan has lost between 109,000 and 237,000 jobs, depending upon the report. It’s dire here in the city!

Currently, Mr. Bloomberg, according to Fortune Magazine, is worth $19.5 billion. He was sworn in as mayor on January 1, 2002, his worth at that time was around $6 billion—and bought his way into a 3rd campaign, changing the rules here in NYC. He almost lost to Bill Thompson, the Democratic candidate. We have, or I should say HAD, a law permitting only 2 terms to any elected official.

Check out his live in life-partner—Diana L. Taylor. She’s on the board of Brookline Properties, the corporation that owns Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square. Her bio is very interesting—she’s managing director of Wolfensohn & Co., owned by James Wolfensohn, who was in charge of the World Bank beginning in
1995, and ending in 2005. She was also in charge of New York state banks from 2003-2007 which would have brought her into direct contact with Timothy Geithner, who was, at that time, in charge of the New York Fed.

All of these people are connected through a plethora of business associations and are joined at the hip in their ideology, and I can’t believe they have anyone’s best interests at heart—other than their own!

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By Kay Johnson, November 7, 2011 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

Billy Pilgrim: The other day, I watched an interview with James Kunstler, a writer of nonfiction and fiction as well, who said that Bloomberg might be trying to launch a 3rd party campaign. Currently, he is a declared Independent. However, unless I am mistaken, he has been registered, in the past, as both a Republican and as a Democrat—whatever works best for him. Kunstler also stated that behind the scenes, Bloomberg is quietly hiring people who worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. When I “googled,” I found some articles published by the New York Daily News on the subject of Bloomberg possibly throwing his hat into the ring, so to speak.

Since I live in NYC, I am always hearing rumors about Bloomberg running for president. I didn’t ever vote for him for mayor of the city—he has far too much money to be able to identify with the issues most of us face. Since 2000, Manhattan has lost between 109,000 and 237,000 jobs, depending upon the report. It’s dire here in the city!

Currently, Mr. Bloomberg, according to Fortune Magazine, is worth $19.5 billion. He was sworn in as mayor on January 1, 2002, his worth at that time was around $6 billion—and bought his way into a 3rd campaign, changing the rules here in NYC. He almost lost to Bill Thompson, the Democratic candidate. We have, or I should say HAD, a law permitting only 2 terms to any elected official.

Check out his live in life-partner—Diana L. Taylor. She’s on the board of Brookline Properties, the corporation that owns Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square. Her bio is very interesting—she’s managing director of Wolfensohn & Co., owned by James Wolfensohn, who was in charge of the World Bank beginning in
1995, and ending in 2005. She was also in charge of New York state banks from 2003-2007 which would have brought her into direct contact with Timothy Geithner, who was, at that time, in charge of the New York Fed.

All of these people are connected through a plethora of business associations and are joined at the hip in their ideology, and I can’t believe they have anyone’s best interests at heart—other than their own!

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By Jim Yell, November 7, 2011 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The wealthy in this country are like a Mafia Don who think that because they didn’t pull the trigger they have not committed murder, but as can easily be observed they are the ones who hired the one who did and it would not have been done without their direction and money.

We have a Congress and now a Supreme Court and sadly a Presidency that continues to follow the right wing direction of pandering to the filthy rich. Therefore the money they have was made by stacking the deck thru fraud, graft and dirty tricks. Now they want to blame it on the people they hired to do the job. Why should we be so stupid as to allow them to escape using the ruse?

I saw an article whose lead in seemed to be suggesting that by punishing the Banks and others for their crimes which are only legal because they corrupted the political process would be stealing from the rich. Now how can that be when the rich stole everything from the country as a whole? All most balanced people are asking that they begin to pay their taxes of old.

I have a radical idea though, since the loopholes and outright gift of not paying their taxes was a direct result of the rich buying and corrupting the political process and destroying the regulation to keep things resonably fair, we should sue them to recover the taxes they should have paid but didn’t. What a bunch of narcisstic, sadistic little turds the rich are.

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By Billee, November 7, 2011 at 8:05 am Link to this comment

Bloomberg hasn’t a clue and most people just tune him out.

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By Billy Pilgrim, November 7, 2011 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

Bloomberg is a pathological liar and a whore for Wall
Street. However, he is not stupid. I think he is
angling for a spot on the Republican Presidential
ticket. He would certainly hurt Obama with the Jewish
vote in N.Y., and without the state’s electoral votes,
Obama cannot win. And if Obama does win, Bloomberg
would set himself up for a run in 2016.

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By Vermonter, November 7, 2011 at 5:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I lost a lot of respect for Bloomberg with his
response to OWS.  From the beginning he was making
disparaging remarks.  He has softened them of late
because he calculated that it was not politically
advantageous to hold such a hard line.  Nevertheless,
he is still clearly and transparently in bed with
Wall Street given his latest remarks blaming
government.  Mayor, your remarks are truly absurd to
anyone who has the slightest inkling of how this catastrophe evolved.  Yes, government did abolish
needed regulation (smoot hawley, for one), and
government regulators turned a blind eye, but, it was
(and still is) the wall street crowd and banks that
took the ball and ran with it for reasons of pure
greed.  Turns out many folks (particularly
minorities) were steered toward no-doc loans even
when they qualified for conventional mortgages. 
Shame on you Bloomberg…you are clearly part of the
problem.

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By munky, November 7, 2011 at 2:22 am Link to this comment

Bloomberg is aware that the government did NOT force banks to give mortgages to unqualified applicants. His beloved Wall Street is under attack and he will defend it to the death, even if it means lying about it. He should read this: “Inside the Liar’s Loan: How the mortgage industry nurtured deceit.” Check it out: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2008/04/inside_the_liars_loan.html

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By Outraged, November 7, 2011 at 1:27 am Link to this comment

Excellent article. But I’ll weigh in on that later.

What struck me was Bloomberg’s sudden CONCERN
regarding rape in the Big Apple. I’m not a
New Yorker so from my vantage point I thought it
specifically, albeit late, WONDERFUL that Mayor
Bloomberg had this new found consideration of rape
victims. To wit:

”“It is despicable and outrageous and really
allows the criminal to strike again making all of us
less safe,” Bloomberg said.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/11/03/ows-protesters-arrested-during-sept-union-square-march-due-in-court/

Of course there were those “radicals” who said:
“Well actually we have called 911 and we’ve been
hung up on the second we mention Zuccotti Park,” one
protester said.”

So…. My question is Does Mayor Bloomberg REALLY care about rape in NYC? or just at Zuccotti Park?
“New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out at anti-greed Occupy Wall Street protesters on Thursday after reports of self-policing at their camp, showing his patience is wearing thin with the 7-week-old movement.
The mayor said there were sexual assaults and a possible rape at the protesters’ gathering place in Zuccotti Park.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45158745/ns/us_news-life/t/bloomberg-growing-testy-over-occupy-wall-street-protesters/#.TreUTENjZzM

As an after thought is Bloomberg saying RAPE or “possible rape”....?  “Sexual assaults” are not rape?  Or is it rape is not a sexual assault..? I’m confused.

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