The president's State of the Union speech didn't mention housing policy or mortgages. Nor did the two Republican responses (which is one more than Democrats get when a Republican is president). But there were some notable comments about regulation.
I was disappointed by President Barack Obama's know-nothing laughter-and-applause line about salmon: "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."
LOL! Free market rulez! Government droolz!
If you think about it for about three seconds -- if you use inductive reasoning -- you realize that maybe freshwater salmon fishing is done mostly by recreational fishermen who eat what they catch; whereas most saltwater salmon are caught by industrial fishing boats. Why not regulate them differently? As far as smoked fish -- would you rather have them scrutinized by trained food inspectors, or by game wardens?
Right now, your mortgage is regulated according to what type of institution the lender is -- if it's a federally chartered bank (like Wachovia, which was bought by Wells Fargo to prevent its failure), a savings and loan (like Washington Mutual, which failed), or a nonbank (like Ameriquest, which went out of business in 2007). It's kind of silly to fracture consumer-protection regulations according to the type of institution. Under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, those protections will be consolidated under one agency. But the Republicans act like this commonsense consolidation of regulations came straight from the pages of "Das Kapital."
At least Obama's speech contained humor and a dash of optimism. The Republican response from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was a bummer. In addition to insulting proud, hard-working Americans by telling us that we will be lulled into "lives of complacency and dependency" by a social safety net, he said: "Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked -- and it won't work now." Well, lax regulation didn't lead to wise consumer choices in the mortgage industry, either.
In the Tea Party response, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said, "Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that now tells us which light bulbs to buy..." This was news to me; just a couple of weeks go, I bought a quartz halogen spotlight at Home Depot. Bachmann made me wonder if government goons had raided the store afterward, raking all the precious incandescent bulbs off the shelves. I asked my wife if she had seen incandescent bulbs for sale in recent days, and she said yes. Whew! I guess I can ignore Bachmann.