The “must-reads” segment on Morning Joe today opened with a NY Times op-ed that ridiculed Newt Gingrich‘s claim that the $300,000 he received from embattled government mortgage agency Freddie Mac was for his “advice as a historian.” Given the fierce anti-Frannie and Freddie sentiment among the GOP, and blame assigned to these agencies for the housing crisis and credit default problems that helped tank the US economy in 2008, host Joe Scarborough believes that Gingrich has got some splaining to do.
In a Friday morning column, Gail Collins expressed glee at the looming GOP debate (which occurred Saturday night), and took a shot of mockery at Gingrich’s claim that his advice was not at all lobbying or an attempt to influence congress. Collins wrote:
Newt, on the other hand, is always good in debates if you like extremely pompous people who appear to be practically levitating with their own sense of personal wonderfulness. During the last outing, Gingrich’s most fascinating moment came when he explained why the mortgage lender Freddie Mac paid him $300,000 in 2006. First of all, it had nothing whatsoever to do with lobbying, or attempting to influence the Republicans who happened to control Congress at a time when there was talk of clamping down on the way Freddie operated. Just put that out of your mind.
Scarborough appeared to agree with Collins’ ridiculous assessment of Gingrich claims, though former RNC chair Michael Steele quickly pointed out that maybe Newt’s assertion isn’t that far off the mark; claiming that the former GOP House Speaker was paid to advise Freddie Mac and they ignored his advice.
Guest panelist Major Garrett made the most salient and reasonable point about this whole sordid mess, reminding fellow panelists and viewers alike that using the housing crisis as a political football is a disingenuous game in which no one wins. He appropriately assigned bipartisan blame by saying:
Folks, remember what you wish for and you ask for bipartisan consensus. Sometimes it’s ruinous, and there was a bipartisan consensus, home ownership was not only the definition of the American dream, but long-running economic vitality. We created a bubble in this country. It’s not just the community investment act, it’s the end of Glass-Steaggall. The securitization and monetization of mortgages that brought us to where we are now.
Kudos to Garrett for correctly proclaiming that the credit default swap mess is neither a GOP nor Democratic problem, and to point fingers simply at George W. Bush, Barney Frank or Newt Gingrich misses the mark.
Watch the clip embedded below, courtesy of MSNBC:
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