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Sen. Kyl Tries to Pin Blame For Economic Mess on Democrats, 'Minorities,' 'The Poor,' and 'The Young'

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Compassion, it seems, is easier in boom times.

Arizona now has the fourth-highest foreclosure rate in America, with
9,540 foreclosures in February, up 210 percent from 2007. So maybe it's
natural that Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) would want to revise history by
shifting blame for the crash in home prices plaguing Arizonans and
millions of homeowners onto the Democrats, as he did on ABC's This Week
recently:

It wasn't the Bush administration as much as it was Democrats in
Congress who were pushing the lending institutions to get out there and
lend more money, even to unqualified buyers - to the minorities, to the
poor, to the young - so that everyone could own a home.

Blaming Democrats for the market meltdown ranks high on the disingenuous
scale, right up with Karl Rove's outlandish claim that the Democratic
Congress pushed a reluctant, peace-loving President Bush to invade Iraq.

Under the Bush administration, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and
other Bush financial officials promoted easy money, low interest rate
polices together with underregulation of virtually anything that could
be called a free market financial "innovation." During this time,
regulatory powers to police the rise of non-bank mortgage originators
pushing high cost loans without reserve or risk-retention requirements
were put into mothballs. Fueled by this high octane mix, the subprime
market exploded from 2001 until 2006, making up perhaps as much as 50
percent of the increase in homeownership during that period.

If only Sen. Kyl had aired his criticisms of unfettered lending
practices in 2003, when he stood with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at a
Phoenix fundraiser and listened to President Bush extol the virtues of
an "ownership society." At that time, the president said:

A compassionate society must promote opportunity for everyone,
including the independence and dignity from ownership. My administration
will constantly strive to promote an ownership society in America. We
want more people owning their own home. We have a minority
home-ownership-gap in America. I proposed a plan to the Congress to
close that gap....This administration understands that when a person
owns something, he or she has a vital stake in the future of this
country.

When it was popular to stand for expanding homeownership, Sen. Kyl was
there in 2006 to praise federal aid for minority and low income families
in Phoenix:

Habitat's work, including the partnership with HUD, has produced
great results and made a truly positive impact in the Phoenix
neighborhoods. The SHOP grants announced today will help make it
possible for many more Arizona families to realize the dream of
homeownership.

Certainly advocates for low- and moderate-income families fought for
greater access to home mortgage loans for Americans historically frozen
out of the Great American Dream. Some argued for nothing-down mortgages
and flexible underwriting standards. But by and large, these groups also
advocated full lending disclosure, extensive homebuying counseling, and
other protections for consumers. The record of affordable homeownership
approaches such as those promoted by community development corporations,
community land trusts, and similar efforts shows a low foreclosure rate
and great stability even among buyers whose income is below the median.

But with millions in foreclosure and financial markets quaking at the
massive debt piled on top of "difficult to value" pools of mortgages,
pointing the finger at Democrats - or blaming "minorities," "poor," and
"young" Americans who bought houses to join the ownership society -- is
certainly convenient. With millions of them foreclosed on, they might
not be watching Sunday morning news shows to set the record straight.