- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 30, 2005

Exploring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

James C. Miller III gets it mostly wrong in defending Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) against conservative criticism (“Fannie Mae today, Citigroup tomorrow?” Commentary, Tuesday).

Sure, forcing the two mortgage lending giants to downsize their portfolios is a less than ideal solution to the significant problems Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac create for federal taxpayers, including the possibility of a government bailout if the companies make enough bad loans. Unfortunately, the two government-chartered enterprises have used their tremendous influence on Capitol Hill to lobby against any substantive reform — especially complete privatization.

As subsidized entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac harm banks that do not receive implicit government backing and do pay taxes. Even in their core mission of assisting low-income home buyers, they pass just $1 out of every $2 in these subsidies to homeowners. Moreover, given their market dominance, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pursue increasingly risky loans to maintain a portfolio that has grown at 18 percent per year over the past decade.

To be sure, conservatives find the idea of setting aside 5 percent of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s profits into an affordable-housing slush fund to be one egregious aspect of the legislation passed out of committee in the House. Perhaps more dangerous is that it increases the size of home loans that may be purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in some areas of the country to $540,000, thus enabling them to use their subsidized position to gain an even greater market share. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac truly are big and successful enough to fend for themselves. It is time for Congress to cut the subsidy cord.

PAUL J. GESSING

Director of government affairs

National Taxpayers Union

Alexandria

Senators and Roe v. Wade

In the article “Senators demand Roe be upheld” (Page 1, Friday), several female Democratic senators said Thursday that they would vote against Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. unless he promises to uphold the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade.

It seems impossible to imagine, but perhaps we can have a win-win situation for both Roe supporters and those who desire to let states outlaw abortion on demand. Judge Roberts could uphold Roe and yet allow states to deem abortion illegal.

To understand how this could happen, just look at the wording of Associate Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade: “The State does have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman, whether she be a resident of the State or a nonresident who seeks medical consultation and treatment there, and that it has still another important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life.”

The health and life of the mother trumps the desire to protect an unborn child, but Roe is great news to those seeking an end to abortion on demand in their state.

Roe upheld and reaffirmed a state’s right to protect an unborn child, or “the potentiality of human life.” However, the health of the mother and the protection of the child can be at odds with each other.

Justice Blackmun’s opinion answered the question of where a state can draw the line between the two conflicting parties: “State regulation protective of fetal life after viability … has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.” Justice Blackmun defined viable as “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.”

As Tony Blankley pointed out in his most recent column (“Roe vs. Wade vs. Technology,” Op-Ed, Wednesday), advances in science over the past three decades may be the key. New scientific procedures could potentially allow a fetus to be raised outside a mother’s womb from the point of conception.

With these advances, the legal definition of viable may soon shift from 24 weeks to the embryonic stage. Once an embryo falls into the legal definition of viable, any state can “proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”

Most pro-life supporters would prefer that Roe be overturned, but in the spirit of unity and reaching across the aisle, let’s leave Roe alone and outlaw abortion on demand.

ADAM MCQUEEN

Atlanta

Friday’s Page One article by Charles Hurt, “Senators demand Roe be upheld,” provides readers with an inside look at just how fanatical the Democrats, in this case female Democratic senators, are in defending legalized abortion.

Mr. Hurt reports, “At a press conference yesterday, the women were asked whether any of them could vote in favor of Judge Roberts if he said Roe was wrongly decided. None spoke up. Mrs. Boxer said she would find it ‘impossible’ to vote for him.”

The operative words here are “wrongly decided.” If Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. is confirmed by the Senate, he and his fellow justices are obliged to review reasonable legal challenges to lower-court decisions as well as previous Supreme Court decisions.

Such reviews rightly deal with the legal process, constitutionality and procedures followed in rendering earlier judgments; they are not polls of personal, moral or religious beliefs. Instead, such reviews are necessary to reaffirm existing laws, perhaps with information not available at the time of the earlier decision, or to correct errors made by the courts.

I personally believe that the 1973 Supreme Court unilaterally amended the Constitution in granting abortion rights to women without considering the requirement that such amendments be ratified by three-fourths of the states. What I find very troubling about the Democrats’ behavior on this issue is their blind allegiance to what may well be an unconstitutional Supreme Court decision.

If they have the support of the American people, as they claim, they should not fear a review and possible reversal of Roe v. Wade on constitutional grounds.

All they need to do is draft a constitutional amendment and get it passed. If that effort should fail, they can still take comfort in the knowledge that our democracy is working and the will of the people has prevailed. Shouldn’t we expect this from United States senators, most of whom are highly trained lawyers? Didn’t each of them swear an oath to uphold the Constitution?

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

‘Wedding Crashers’ and Purple Hearts

I am writing in response to “Hollywood forced to yield to veterans” (Nation, Thursday). New Line Cinema spokesman Richard Socarides expressed regrets for suggesting in a Web site promotion for its film “Wedding Crashers” that claiming to have a Purple Heart can be an assist in hitting on bridesmaids and getting free drinks by stating, “We understand the sensitivity regarding the medals and did not intend to make light of their significance in any way.”

Oh, really? Wasn’t that precisely the intent of that idiotic bit of copy? Search Mr. Socarides’ statement for expressions of contrition or acknowledgement of fault, and I think we’ll agree that an “understanding” of the medal’s “sensitivity” falls short. Also, shouldn’t an apology contain an expression of regret and a plea for pardon? Believe me, Mr. Socarides’ statement is very carefully put together.

Rep. John Salazar, Colorado Democrat, has a pretty good understanding of the extent of the problem and why there are those might give this ruse a try: “Hundreds of imposters claim military honors they did not receive.”

WILLIAM JAMES

RICHARDSON

Virginia Beach

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide