An Equal Opportunity Crisis

House Financial Services Committee chair Rep. Barney Frank -- profiled in the New York Times this week -- is the only person in Washington remotely both as bright and as indecipherable as Alan Greenspan. His accent is the aural equivalent of illegible handwriting. A stenographer should follow him around so you don't have to wait 'til the next day for the transcript. Mr. Frank, who has deftly led the surprisingly challenging effort to pass comprehensive housing legislation equal to the crisis, made an off-handed remark, according to the Times profile, after the House approved his bill on Thursday, though without enough votes to override a veto: Mr. Frank quickly went on the offensive, seeking to undercut the administration's argument that homeowners in trouble should have known better. "No dumb people got America into this problem," he snapped. "You had to be really smart to understand collateralized debt obligation derivatives." Needless to say, the profile adds, "Mr. Frank, who holds degrees from Harvard and Harvard Law School, understands collateralized debt obligations." Of course, you don't have to have multiple Ivies to become ensnared in the current housing crisis. In fact, as the Washington Post reports today, the crisis knows no class boundaries. "Nationwide, from 2006 to 2007, the number of foreclosed properties listed at $1 million or more rose 50 percent, to 7,642, up from 5,091, according to RealtyTrac. And the number of foreclosed homes priced from $500,000 to $999,999 jumped 88 percent, from 52,836 to 99,457." Some of that's deep in GOP territory. Maybe George Bush will re-consider his veto threat. He's got enough Ivy League degrees to understand the problem.
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