GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina placed blamed for the financial crisis squarely on the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Monday night, arguing for a full repeal of the financial reform law signed by President Obama.
"The financial crisis was caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored entities that have been supported by both Republicans and Democrats alike," Fiorina said at the Voters First presidential forum at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire Monday. "They have never been reformed. Twenty five government agencies were supposed to be minding the store. They didn't."
The mortgage giants failed in 2008, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO argued, in part because regulators were distracted by pornography.
"The government should not be in the mortgage business, and have government agencies that are supposed to be regulating the financial system be competent at their job, not, as we know from [inspector general] reports, have federal government regulators — supposed to be minding the banking system — watching pornography all day long," she said.
In blaming Fannie and Freddie for the crisis, Fiorina endorsed a history of the 2008 housing crash and bank bailouts favored by conservative Republicans but controversial among other economists who have studied the causes of the crisis.
In that theory, government lending practices, and not big banks' venture into subprime lending and related financial instruments, led to the housing collapse, and accordingly the restrictions placed on banking by President Obama and the Democratic Congress in 2010 were misdirected.
Fiorina faulted the Dodd-Frank financial reform law for leading to consolidation in the banking industry and regulatory burdens that have hurt community banks. The increase in the size of the give biggest banks is "crony capitalism," she said.
"We need to repeal Dodd-Frank just as we need to repeal Obamacare," Fiorina declared. "But we also need to get about what we should have been doing years ago: Reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase mortgages from lenders and package them into securities to sell to lenders with a guarantee. They were taken into government custody in 2008, and subsequently received $187.5 in taxpayer support.
In the intervening years Congress has failed to advance legislation shuttering the two businesses or returning them to the private sector. They have returned to positive cash flow, but remain in government control with a single regulator making decisions about their future.
Fiorina, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in California in 2010, has so far struggled to gain traction in the sprawling GOP field. Although she has drawn attention among conservatives for stinging criticisms of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Fiorina faces exclusion from the top tier of candidates in the first presidential debate later this week.