White House warned about Fannie and Freddie

For many years the President and his Administration have not only warned of the systemic consequences of financial turmoil at a housing government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) but also put forward thoughtful plans to reduce the risk that either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac would encounter such difficulties.  President Bush publicly called for GSE reform 17 times in 2008 alone before Congress acted.  Unfortunately, these warnings went unheeded, as the President's repeated attempts to reform the supervision of these entities were thwarted by the legislative maneuvering of those who emphatically denied there were problems.  

2001

April: The Administration's FY02 budget declares that the size of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is "a potential problem," because "financial trouble of a large GSE could cause strong repercussions in financial markets, affecting Federally insured entities and economic activity."

2002

May: The President calls for the disclosure and corporate governance principles contained in his 10-point plan for corporate responsibility to apply to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  (OMB Prompt Letter to OFHEO, 5/29/02)

2003

January: Freddie Mac announces it has to restate financial results for the previous three years. 

February: The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) releases a report explaining that "although investors perceive an implicit Federal guarantee of [GSE] obligations," "the government has provided no explicit legal backing for them."  As a consequence, unexpected problems at a GSE could immediately spread into financial sectors beyond the housing market.  ("Systemic Risk: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Role of OFHEO," OFHEO Report, 2/4/03) 

September: Fannie Mae discloses SEC investigation and acknowledges OFHEO's review found earnings manipulations.

September: Treasury Secretary John Snow testifies before the House Financial Services Committee to recommend that Congress enact "legislation to create a new Federal agency to regulate and supervise the financial activities of our housing-related government sponsored enterprises" and set prudent and appropriate minimum capital adequacy requirements.

October: Fannie Mae discloses $1.2 billion accounting error.

November:  Council of the Economic Advisers (CEA) Chairman Greg Mankiw explains that any "legislation to reform GSE regulation should empower the new regulator with sufficient strength and credibility to reduce systemic risk."  To reduce the potential for systemic instability, the regulator would have "broad authority to set both risk-based and minimum capital standards" and "receivership powers necessary to wind down the affairs of a troubled GSE."  (N. Gregory Mankiw, Remarks At The Conference Of State Bank Supervisors State Banking Summit And Leadership, 11/6/03)

2004

February: The President's FY05 Budget again highlights the risk posed by the explosive growth of the GSEs and their low levels of required capital, and called for creation of a new, world-class regulator:  "The Administration has determined that the safety and soundness regulators of the housing GSEs lack sufficient power and stature to meet their responsibilities, and therefore…should be replaced with a new strengthened regulator."  (2005 Budget Analytic Perspectives, pg. 83)

February: CEA Chairman Mankiw cautions Congress to "not take [the financial market's] strength for granted."  Again, the call from the Administration was to reduce this risk by "ensuring that the housing GSEs are overseen by an effective regulator."  (N. Gregory Mankiw, Op-Ed, "Keeping Fannie And Freddie's House In Order," Financial Times, 2/24/04)

June: Deputy Secretary of Treasury Samuel Bodman spotlights the risk posed by the GSEs and called for reform, saying "We do not have a world-class system of supervision of the housing government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), even though the importance of the housing financial system that the GSEs serve demands the best in supervision to ensure the long-term vitality of that system.  Therefore, the Administration has called for a new, first class, regulatory supervisor for the three housing GSEs:  Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banking System."  (Samuel Bodman, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Testimony, 6/16/04)

2005

April: Treasury Secretary John Snow repeats his call for GSE reform, saying "Events that have transpired since I testified before this Committee in 2003 reinforce concerns over the systemic risks posed by the GSEs and further highlight the need for real GSE reform to ensure that our housing finance system remains a strong and vibrant source of funding for expanding homeownership opportunities in America… Half-measures will only exacerbate the risks to our financial system."  (Secretary John W. Snow, "Testimony Before The U.S. House Financial Services Committee," 4/13/05)

2007

July: Two Bear Stearns hedge funds invested in mortgage securities collapse.

August: President Bush emphatically calls on Congress to pass a reform package for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying "first things first when it comes to those two institutions.  Congress needs to get them reformed, get them streamlined, get them focused, and then I will consider other options."  (President George W. Bush, Press Conference, The White House, 8/9/07)

September: RealtyTrac announces foreclosure filings up 243,000 in August – up 115 percent from the year before. 

September: Single-family existing home sales decreases 7.5 percent from the previous month – the lowest level in nine years.  Median sale price of existing homes fell six percent from the year before.

December: President Bush again warns Congress of the need to pass legislation reforming GSEs, saying "These institutions provide liquidity in the mortgage market that benefits millions of homeowners, and it is vital they operate safely and operate soundly. So I've called on Congress to pass legislation that strengthens independent regulation of the GSEs – and ensures they focus on their important housing mission.  The GSE reform bill passed by the House earlier this year is a good start.  But the Senate has not acted.  And the United States Senate needs to pass this legislation soon."  (President George W. Bush, Discusses Housing, The White House, 12/6/07)

2008

January: Bank of America announces it will buy Countrywide.

January: Citigroup announces mortgage portfolio lost $18.1 billion in value.

February: Assistant Secretary David Nason reiterates the urgency of reforms, says "A new regulatory structure for the housing GSEs is essential if these entities are to continue to perform their public mission successfully."  (David Nason, Testimony On Reforming GSE Regulation, Senate Committee On Banking, Housing And Urban Affairs, 2/7/08)

March: Bear Stearns announces it will sell itself to JPMorgan Chase. 

March: President Bush calls on Congress to take action and "move forward with reforms on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They need to continue to modernize the FHA, as well as allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to homeowners to refinance their mortgages."  (President George W. Bush, Remarks To The Economic Club Of New York, New York, NY, 3/14/08)

April: President Bush urges Congress to pass the much needed legislation and "modernize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. [There are] constructive things Congress can do that will encourage the housing market to correct quickly by … helping people stay in their homes."  (President George W. Bush, Meeting With Cabinet, the White House, 4/14/08)

May: President Bush issues several pleas to Congress to pass legislation reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the situation deteriorates further. 

  • "Americans are concerned about making their mortgage payments and keeping their homes. Yet Congress has failed to pass legislation I have repeatedly requested to modernize the Federal Housing Administration that will help more families stay in their homes, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure they focus on their housing mission, and allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance sub-prime loans."   (President George W. Bush, Radio Address, 5/3/08)
  • "[T]he government ought to be helping creditworthy people stay in their homes. And one way we can do that – and Congress is making progress on this – is the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That reform will come with a strong, independent regulator."  (President George W. Bush, Meeting With The Secretary Of The Treasury, the White House, 5/19/08)
  • Congress needs to pass legislation to modernize the Federal Housing Administration, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure they focus on their housing mission, and allow State housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance subprime loans."  (President George W. Bush, Radio Address, 5/31/08)

June: As foreclosure rates continued to rise in the first quarter, the President once again asks Congress to take the necessary measures to address this challenge, saying "we need to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."  (President George W. Bush, Remarks At Swearing In Ceremony For Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, Washington, D.C., 6/6/08)

July: Congress heeds the President's call for action and passes reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as it becomes clear that the institutions are failing.

(White House Press Release)

IN PLAIN SIGHT: COVID and mental health

NotesfromPoland.com

A lot of times, people drown in plain sight. Largely because most of us haven't been taught what to look for. We're accustomed to the movie version of a person struggling in the water — flailing their arms and shrieking and gymnastic — but in real life drowning is quieter, something you could see and not realize. It's never been harder than it is now, in 2020, as we're all locked indoors, alone, out of sight.

Every year, an estimated one million people worldwide kill themselves. A death every 40 seconds.

America is in the throes of a suicide epidemic, with the highest suicide rate since World War II. Suicide rates have risen 30 percent since 1999, and the number keeps climbing. There were 45,000 suicide deaths in 2016 alone. In 2017, there were 47,000. Roughly 129 people a day.

In 2018, 10.7 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.3 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide. There were 48,344 recorded suicides. That's roughly one person every 11 minutes. And that's 1,171 more people than the year before. The average American knows 600 people. Meaning, the increase of suicide deaths in one year was more than double the number of people you know. And that's just the difference.

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in this country. It is the second leading cause of death among children, and since 2000, there has been a worrying jump in the suicide rate of 15-to-24-year-olds.

In January, USA Today ran an article about the rising suicide rates, "More and more Americans are dying by suicide. What are we missing?

That was January. Three months before the pandemic sent all of us indoors.

An article in The BMJ, a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, points that "Widely reported studies modeling the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates predicted increases ranging from 1% to 145%." In other words, "We really don't know."

So we can't prove exactly how much damage the pandemic and the lockdowns have caused, or how many suicides there have been this year compared to last year because those numbers will take a while to assemble. But we can get an idea by measuring the scope and prevalence of the conditions that lead to suicide, and they are significantly higher in 2020. Because what's not in doubt is that the pandemic has gravely affected people's mental health.

Affect on Adults

For starters, while suicides tend to drop at the start of pandemics, they quickly increase in response to the conditions of quarantine. It's also true that suicide rates increase during recessions.

A study in Science Advances journal noted that "as the rates of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths increased substantially across the United States, COVID-19–related acute stress and depressive symptoms increased over time in the United States." A CDC report from August found that in 2020 compared to 2019, adults' symptoms of anxiety have tripled and symptoms of depression have quadrupled (24.3% versus 6.5%). Compared to 2018, two different studies concluded that symptoms of depression and "serious psychological distress" are triple the level they were. In fact, the rates of anxiety and depression have been higher throughout the pandemic than "after other large-scale traumas like September 11th, Hurricane Katrina and the Hong Kong unrest." Ten percent of Americans surveyed in June said they had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days.

French philosopher Albert Camus once wrote that "In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

Well, we find ourselves — literally and figuratively — in the depths of winter.

Well, we find ourselves — literally and figuratively — in the depths of winter.

Lockdowns

A number of studies warn about the danger posed by lockdowns. One in particular, published in Lancet, summarizes it well: "Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. Some researchers have suggested long-lasting effects."

The report is very clear about how to minimize the harm of quarantine: Give people as much information as possible, reduce boredom, improve communication, emphasize altruism, and keep lockdowns as short as possible.

Affect on Children

The pandemic and the lockdowns have been especially difficult, and even fatal, for one group in particular, but you might not have heard about it because the media is too obsessed with identity politics to stop for a moment and look at the bigger picture. I'm talking about the most important population: Children.

But they aren't dying of Covid. In fact, children are more likely to die of homicides, drowning, or even fires and burns, than they are to die of Covid. The Academy of Pediatrics reported that, as of December 3rd, children accounted for slightly more than 0% of all COVID-19 cases, and even fewer deaths, about 0.11%, about 160 in total. There are still 15 states with zero reported child deaths. They don't even catch it as often: They account for less than 2% of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases globally. Even here in America, the nation with the highest infection rates, that number is the same: 2%. And, when they do catch it, the overwhelming majority of them experience either no symptoms or mild symptoms. Another recent study found that, compared to the flu, children play a minimal role in spreading Covid-19, and most children who contract it actually get it from their parents.

So they rarely catch it, they almost never die because of it, and they don't spread it. Yet, according to data from the CDC, the rate of children visiting emergency rooms has skyrocketed. Compared with 2019, the number of 5-11-year-olds is 24% higher, while the rate for 12-17-year-olds is 31% higher. This surge is due to mental health reasons.

According to a ton of studies (Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here), during the pandemic, children of all ages have "had high rates of depression, anxiety, and pos-traumatic symptoms as expected in the aftermath of any disaster."

The reality is unequivocal: The lockdowns and quarantines are bad for children. Certainly much, much worse than the disease itself, a point Donald Trump was heckled by the media for making. We waded through a sea of studies, reports, and articles, and the consensus was so consistent that we shifted our focus to looking for studies that said otherwise.

The International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction released a study this month that found that three in four children have reported having depression, and that "the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children's mental well-being is worrying 60% of parents, according to a survey by parents with primary-aged children and 87% reported that their children were missing school and less than half stated that their children were feeling lonely, which altogether affects their children's mental health and wellbeing."

One study found that children of all age groups "showed more clinging, inattention, and irritability. However, 3-6 year-olds were more likely to manifest clinginess and fear that family members might contract the infection, while 6-18 year-olds were more likely to show inattention and persistent inquiry." Another study found that "In many households, children who end up staying indoors become restless and, in some cases, violent."

Children need predictability... and they need to believe that their parents are in control of things.

Uncertainty, social isolation, and parental angst. Children need predictability, they need activities, and they need to believe that their parents are in control of things. But, as a result of draconian lockdowns, they have spent much more time in front of screens. They are also more susceptible to sleep disruptions, or "somatic symptoms." And they are at a much higher risk for sexual abuse and domestic abuse, and, without school, unable to escape it.

Like us, they'll be dealing with the long term effects of the pandemic and lockdown for the rest of their lives. The difference is, we're more equipped to handle it.

One report refers to the undue harm lockdowns cause children as "collateral damage," adding that "we all have a responsibility to promote the health and well-being of children at home, and to ask questions and fight for service provision in areas where clinicians are not needed to fight COVID-19 but are needed to protect children."

As a society, it is our duty to protect the defenseless, and there is no group of people more defenseless, yet more important, than children.

German philosopher Kant wrote a lot about suicide. His argument can basically be boiled down to two parts:

1) I ought to do my duty as long as I am alive; and

2) It is my duty to go on living as long as possible.

He used the anecdote of civilization as a human body. We must only harm our body if it's necessary for self-preservation. If a toe is necrotic for whatever reason, we amputate it, so that we can preserve our body, our person, as a whole. Suicide, on the other hand, is an act of destruction. It is harmful, not just to the person it removes from humanity, but to humanity as a whole. Each of us plays a role in making sure that body remains in motion. So, when a person resorts to suicide, they are harming the body, the whole, they are depriving society and humanity. They are severing limbs or slicing our arms. They are robbing us of every good that they would bring.

School

Most European countries have closed their schools. According to UNESCO, 91% of children worldwide have been affected by school closures. A study from Bangladesh found that Bangladeshi children were suffering from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorder. In Italy and Spain, one study determined that 85% of parents have noticed negative changes in their children's emotions and behaviors since the pandemic. In England, deaths by suicide among children increased shortly after the country's first lockdown. In Holland, a study "found that young people reported a significant increase in severe anxiety and sleeping problems during the country's lockdown period." Numerous studies from China found that roughly a quarter of children were suffering from the same symptoms. In India, like many other countries, children are spending so much time in front of screens that experts fear it will lead to "psycho-social problems, like lower self-esteem."

Meanwhile, in Sweden, where schools and childcare centers have remained open, the spread of Covid as a result of children attending school is practically nonexistent. Over the next few years, research will show us exactly how Sweden's no-lockdown approach affected their youth.

The research concludes that children should remain in school.

Overwhelmingly — and I mean overwhelmingly — the research concludes that children should remain in school. Academic articles are known for their boring, long-winded, incomprehensible titles, but not these. Like this one: "Mitigate the effects of home confinement on children during the COVID-19 outbreak."

Children need physical activity, which is crucial to minimizing depression and anxiety. Schools provide structure. Schools are a consistent source for children's nutrition, and a lapse in nutrition can have psychological effects. Schools also provide healthcare.

School closures have also put children at a higher risk of domestic violence or sexual abuse, because "school is a safe space where children can report problems and where signs of abuse can be detected."

Children need community. They need friends. While many adults are at home with their kids, most of us are working, and children left alone on workdays are more likely to have anxiety or depression.

Teenagers

According to the CDC, of every demographic, 18-24-year-olds have been most affected, with 75% of respondents in that age range reporting at least one negative mental health symptom. One-quarter said they were using more drugs and alcohol to cope with pandemic-related stress, and another one-quarter said they had "seriously considered suicide" in the previous 30 days.

No prom. No graduation. No church. No dates. No birthday parties — birthdays spent alone. No games. No homecoming. No extracurricular clubs. No sports. No Spring Break — no vacations at all. No funerals, although there are plenty of people being buried.

Teenagers in lockdown are more concerned about their more basic needs. They feel less connected to other people. They are learning less and spending less time on school work. In other words, they are hurting, and bad.

The number of studies that back this up is daunting.

Three papers (Here, Here, and Here) determined that older adolescents suffer more symptoms of depression than younger ones and children. Another study describes the "collective trauma" that the lockdowns have had on teenagers.

The National 4-H Council found that:

●81% of teens say mental health is a significant issue for young people in the U.S., and 64% of teens believe that the experience of COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on their generation's mental health.

●7 in 10 teens have experienced struggles with mental health.

●55% of teens say they've experienced anxiety, 45% excessive stress, and 43% depression.

●61% of teens said that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their feeling of loneliness.

●82% of teens calling on America to talk more openly and honestly about mental health issues in this country.

Life has always been hard for teenagers, but even before the pandemic, it has been especially rough on American teenagers, who are twice as likely "today to have more anxiety symptoms and twice as likely to see a mental health professional as teens in the 1980s.

Here's how the conversation went on radio:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: The politics of COVID-19 is DESTROYING our children youtu.be


On "Glenn TV" this week, Megyn Kelly, host of the "Megyn Kelly Show," told Glenn Beck she believes the Democrats' talk of unity is "all nonsense" and forecasted the "death of journalism" under a Biden administration.

Megyn cited President Joe Biden's unwillingness to make concessions that would help unify Democrats and Republicans as an example of how much he actually cares about unity, and added that, while she's all for lowering the political temperature in America, she also believes there are some personal freedoms that are worth fighting for.

"What's happening substantively is worth fighting for and it's not going to go away just because [Biden] gave a nice speech," Megyn said.

"I will object. I will protect my family and what I think is right over Joe Biden's need for unity, which is false anyway. 'Unify behind my agenda' is not a real call for unity," she added.

Megyn said she believes the Left has reached too far and "awakened a sleeping giant" in reference to the silent majority who should speak up, speak out, and refuse to be silenced any longer.

Watch the video clip below to catch more of the conversation:

Because the content of this show is sure to set off the censors, the full episode is only be available on BlazeTV. Get $30 off a one-year subscription to BlazeTV with the code "GLENN." With BlazeTV, you get the unvarnished truth from the most pro-America network in the country, free from Big Tech and MSM censors.

As the Senate prepares for former President Trump's second impeachment trial, many are asking whether it's constitutional to try a president after leaving office. Alan Dershowitz, lawyer and host of the of "The Dershow," joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to talk about the legal battles Trump still faces.

Dershowitz said he believes the Senate doesn't have the authority to convict Trump, now that he's a private citizen again, and thus can't use impeachment to bar him from running for office again.

"The Constitution says the purpose of impeachment is to remove somebody. He [Trump] is out of office. There's nothing left to do.
It doesn't say you can impeach him to disqualify him for the future. It says, if you remove him you can then add disqualification, but you can't just impeach somebody to disqualify them," Dershowitz said.

"The Senate can't try ordinary citizens. So once you're an ordinary citizen, you get tried only in the courts, not in the Senate. So it's clearly unconstitutional," he added.

Dershowitz, who served on Trump's legal team during the first impeachment trial, also discussed whether he thinks Trump is legally (or even just ethically) responsible for the Capitol riot earlier this month, and whether those engaging in violence could be considered "domestic terrorists."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

A new, shocking CBS News poll shows that the majority of Americans believe they're facing a new enemy: other Americans.

More than two-thirds of poll respondents said they believe democracy in the U.S. is "threatened," and 54% said "other people in America" are the "biggest threat to the American way of life," rather than economic factors, viruses, natural disasters, or foreign actors.

Will it be possible to unite our nation with statistics like that? On "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn and Stu discussed the poll numbers and what they mean for our future.

Watch the video clip below:

.

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.