Archive for Thursday, November 17, 2011

Newt Gingrich defends big contracts with Freddie Mac

November 17, 2011


— Rising in polls and receiving greater scrutiny, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich found himself on the defensive Wednesday over huge payments he received over the past decade from the mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Gingrich, who now is near the top in polling on the GOP race, said he didn’t remember exactly how much he was paid, but a person familiar with the hiring said it was at least $1.6 million for consulting contracts stretching from 1999 to early 2008. The person spoke on condition of anonymity in order address a personnel matter.

Long unpopular among Republicans, federally backed Freddie Mac and its larger sister institution, Fannie Mae, have become targets for criticism stemming from the housing crisis that helped drive the nation deep into recession and then hampered recovery. Gingrich himself criticized Barack Obama in 2008 for accepting contributions from executives of the two companies.

Speaking with reporters in Iowa on Wednesday, Gingrich said he provided “strategic advice for a long period of time” after he resigned as House speaker following his party’s losses in the 1998 elections. He defended Freddie Mac’s role in housing finance and said, “every American should be interested in expanding housing opportunities.”

On Tuesday, a House committee voted to strip top executives of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae of huge salaries and bonuses and to put them on the same pay scale as federal employees. After disastrous losses, both companies were taken over by the government in 2008, and since then a federal regulator has controlled their financial decisions.

During the 2008 campaign, Gingrich suggested in a Fox News interview that presidential candidate Obama should return contributions he had received from executives of the two companies. He said that in a debate with Obama, GOP presidential nominee John McCain “should have turned and said, ‘Senator Obama, are you prepared to give back all the money that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae gave you?’”

Gingrich sought Wednesday to portray his history with Freddie Mac as a sign of valuable experience.

“It reminds people that I know a great deal about Washington,” he said. “We just tried four years of amateur ignorance, and it didn’t work very well. So having someone who actually knows Washington might be a really good thing.”

At least one of his rivals assailed him over the matter.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s $300,000 or $2 million, the point is the money that was taken by Newt Gingrich was taken to influence Republicans in Congress to be in support of Fannie and Freddie,” Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a telephone interview. “While Newt was taking money from Fanny and Freddie I was fighting against them.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy home loans from banks and other lenders, package them into bonds with a guarantee against default and then sell them to investors around the world. The two own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages and nearly all new mortgage loans.

Gingrich’s history at Freddie Mac began in 1999, when he was hired by the company’s top lobbyist, Mitchell Delk. He was brought in for strategic consulting, primarily on legislative and regulatory issues, the company said at the time. That job, which paid about $30,000 a month, lasted until sometime in 2002.

In 2006, Gingrich was hired again on a two-year contract that paid him $300,000 annually, again to provide strategic advice while the company fended off attacks from the right wing of the Republican Party.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for years had been under scrutiny from Republicans on Capitol Hill who opposed government involvement in the mortgage business and wanted to scale back the companies’ size and impose tough regulation.


pace 6 years, 1 month ago

Newt is smart. I wish most "historians" could get million dollars paychecks from Freddie Mac, but that kind of money usually goes to lobbyists. He is one slick dude, he might be a liar.

KS 6 years, 1 month ago

Newt is the smartest one of the bunch, but he has a whole bunch of baggage. Hummmm, maybe he isn't as samrt as I thought?

Keith 6 years, 1 month ago

No, you see he was trying to hasten their demise by taking so much money from them. Yeah, that's the ticket.

pace 6 years, 1 month ago

If there were no stories about democrat politicians, how do you know about them? I know about both sides, too much, $ongress $entate, Job bills sitting on their bloated greedy desks, desk full of things to do, and they come up with the new revolutionary idea of cutting taxes to create jobs. How is that working, fat portfolios. Do you want to get past what you see as soft media or lame stream media, no action on economic corruption,, stand up, peacefully protest. Get your dissatisfaction communicated. but I urge you to do it peaceful, don't bring your gun or joke about assassinating.

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

In a year when the incumbent president should be very vulnerable for a wide variety of reasons, the opposition party seems bound and determined to put forward the weakest field of potential challengers. I suspect that a large part of this election will come down to not whom vote for but when I hold my nose, which of the two smells the least. There is another choice. Vote for third party candidates that more closely reflect your feelings. Vote for candidates that don't stink. They won't win, I know that. But not every vote needs to be about who wins, especially since voting for Democrats and Republicans has made us all the losers. It's about sending a message to Washington. If 10% voted for a variety of third party candidates in this cycle, and that number increased to 15% in four years and then 20% four years later, eventually the two parties will get the massage. they will look to the third party candidates getting the most votes. They will incorporate those policies into their own. Your voice will be heard, eventually. Think about it. Obama vs. (Romney, Cain, Newt, Perry, Bachman, etc.) Really?

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

Sorry, whom "to" and "message" not massage.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

That's actually not true.

If a bunch of the Occupy folks vote third party, that will probably help the Republican candidate, since most of them would probably have voted for Obama.

Which is also true of a large number of independents.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

I hope you're right, but I fear you are mistaken.

Independents who voted for Obama last time are not thrilled with him, nor are the Occupy folks.

Those on the left are also disappointed with Obama, as are young people, who came out in record numbers in 2008.

All of those groups, if they vote third party (or simply don't vote at all) will take votes from Obama.

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

Jafs and Gandalf, You're looking short term. I'm looking further down the road. Not just this election cycle but the one in twenty years. We need Democrats and Republicans to make a fundamental switch away from them doing what's in the best interests of their party first and the American people second (of third, or fourth, etc.). And if they fail to make that move, we the people need to force the change upon them or leave them behind. Nowhere in my copy of the Constitution does it say we should have a two party system and it certainly doesn't mention Democrats and Republicans. They are entities we've made up and we can dismantle them, if we choose.
And if by chance, this election is decided by one vote, and that one vote came from this district in this state, then I'll eat my computer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"we the people need to force the change upon them or leave them behind."

Sounds like you're ready to join the Occupy Movement.

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

Even the quickest review of my postings and you will see that I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. There are several things I like about the OWS. Probably the thing I like the most is seeing a large group of people who likely would not be part of the political process getting involved. I've stated on many occasions that I don't want just people who think like me to be involved, I want a broad range of ideas. I think apathy is a greater threat to our democracy than the Russians coming here and invading us. And I've defended their encampments in this forum on First Amendment grounds. I'm just a little too old to be camping out.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

I agree that politics, and politicians, are deeply unsatisfying on many levels.

I don't agree that voting for a third party candidate will fix that.

And, as far as your last sentence goes, your choice may not make the difference, but if enough other people make the same choice, it will.

That means that if enough independents who would otherwise have voted for Obama vote third party, it will hurt Obama and by default help his opponent.

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

I'm coming at it from the perspective that the the two party system is broken and that they (Democrats and Republicans) have little incentive to fix it. Once you come to that conclusion, then you seek remedies for the problem. Both parties listen to two groups. Those groups are either those that have a lot of money or groups that can deliver a lot of votes. Or think Koch brothers and unions. Unfortunately, the Republicans are as much in bed with one as Democrats are in bed with the other, while neither is looking out for the best interests of the general population. What my suggestion does, by voting for third party candidates, is lumps larger numbers of voters together. And if those numbers increase, then as they get larger, they will appeal to one or both political parties. I guarantee that if one third party was to gather even 5% of the total vote, both parties would be spending a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what that party stood for and then incorporate that philosophy into their party platform. Hence, your voice would get heard. Given the choices in this election, I don't know what difference it would make if independents went the third party way or if those that were energized in the last election simply stayed home. Frankly, I'm not sure it matters that much.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago


And, then the major parties will pander to the third party folks in exactly the same way they pander to everybody else.

It doesn't mean they'll actual incorporate any good ideas there.

I completely disagree with your conclusion - there is not enough difference between D and R politicians for me, but there are clear differences.

An Obama second term would be different enough from a Cain (or Gingrich/Romney, etc.) presidency that I think it's worth voting on that basis.

jayhawkinsf 6 years ago

I'm looking back to the early years of the Viet Nam War. Neither political party was interested in ending the war. During the 1968 presidential campaign, opposition to the war was not a burning issue. However, there was a small group within the Democratic party that was beginning to take an anti-war position. There was an even smaller group amongst Republicans, though it should be noted that Democrats controlled both house of Congress as well as the Presidency. However, there was third party opposition and there was some efforts by members of the two parties to break away and run campaigns that had anti-war platforms. By 1972, both parties were anti-Viet Nam War, the conversation being how best to end our involvement.
I would love to see someone like Ron Paul fail to get the Republican nomination but then get 5-10% running as an independent. He has some good ideas that should be part of the conversation. He also has some nutty ideas that rightfully should disqualify him from being president. But with a third party run, his good ideas will be discussed. And if enough voters vote for him, those good ideas will be part of the 2016 campaign platform of one or both parties. Whether Obama fails during his second term or Cain, Romney, Gingrich fail during their first term is a likely enough outcome, given the political climate now in place. If I really believed there was someone who could change that in the next four years, I'd say sure, let's vote for them. Voting for hope and change will get us neither. And voting Republican will get us, well, a disaster. I choose a third party candidate that actually comes closest to representing my philosophy.

jafs 6 years ago

That's your right.

I choose to vote for the better of the candidates that are electable - if I did otherwise, I feel my vote would go towards helping their opponent.

jayhawkinsf 6 years ago

That's your right also. But let me tell you a story from back in the '70's. The governor's race was between a very conservative Republican named Bennett. The Democratic candidate was a prosecutor out of Wichita named Vern Miller. Now Miller reminded me very much of that crusading sheriff down in Arizona, Joe Arapio. Not a great choice. I voted for Bennett who then went on to do all the things he said he would. That in spite of the fact that I disagreed with him on almost everything. In retrospect, I should have voted for a third party candidate that more closely reflected my views.

jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

Young idealistic folks who got caught up in a wave of excitement, and then disappointed by the reality of Obama's presidency may very well simply not vote at all.

As far as independents, see jhf's post below.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

What a corrupt hypocrite. But we already knew that. This is just one more bit of confirmation.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 1 month ago

Quit picking on Newt. He's just making money. I thought free enterprise and employment were hallmarks of the TP movement. Newt has the best large ideas of any in the group, but the sheeple are much more interested in ideology than complex concepts. Keep on truckin' Newtster.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Gingrich is a RINO. On the campaign trail he will sound republican. Once elected to office he return to his RINO roots. he cannot be trusted.

Gingrich was and is instrumental in removing republicans from the republican party. RINO's love absolute control and dictator influenced government.

weeslicket 6 years, 1 month ago

boy am i glad this topic showed up on "most discussed".
couldn't stumble across it anwywheres else on ljworld. (local news? no. regional news? no. national news? no. type in a search for the words "newt" or "gingrich" or "freddie mac" or "fannie mae"? no. (hmmmmm....)

anyway. i just love the republican debates. i'm hoping for more of them.

weeslicket 6 years, 1 month ago

you know what. i think i can help to simplify this a bit for the republican party.

just rally around freddy krueger. he's your guy. and he has executive experience. (snort. you guys just kill me. snort, chuckle, guffaw, gag, gad, mmmmmmpphhhh........

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