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Predatory Lenders and Soccer Moms « The Washington Independent

The folks over at The Corner think Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin went off base a bit last night when she blamed the housing crisis on predatory lenders. They wanted her to go after irresponsible borrowers, the Community Reinvestment Act – they call it the Carter/Clinton CRA – and the Democratic supporters of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

I guess lenders who sold deceptive loans on unfair terms, packed on prepayment penalties to hold back borrowers who tried to refinance into better loans and offered brokers kickbacks for bringing in loans at higher rates than borrowers qualified for are totally innocent. Oh, and all those lenders that targeted poor and minority neighborhoods with high-cost loans – can’t blame them either.

Meantime, Economistmom weighs in to say that she’s glad Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden slapped down the idea that soccer moms alone have special insights into the economic troubles of average Americans. Biden responded to Palin’s comments along these lines by emotionally recalling his experience as a single dad, after his wife died.

Given the fact that the country is on a financial precipice, facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, maybe we should just assume candidates have a pretty clear idea that times aren’t good. Let’s just cut all those kitchen-table references from here on – please.

Palin, for example, began the debate by saying you can get a sense of how people feel about the economy’s troubles by going to a soccer game and talking to parents on the sidelines. As someone who has been going to games all fall and has two tomorrow, I think I speak for many a parent when I say: No, please don’t ask. We’re trying to watch the kids play.

I don’t care whether a candidate shops at Home Depot or frequents Main Street in Wasilla. Our economy is in big trouble – can someone explain exactly how we got here, and how we’re going to get out of it?

Could the candidates talk about why banks are fearful of lending to one another and what tools government can and should use to ease a credit crunch?

Could we end the faux folksiness on both sides and get down to business, sorting out the lessons learned from the housing bubble and how we’ll prevent similar problems going forward? How do we regulate the financial services industry without making credit too restrictive? Is the bailout bill the best strategy or should we should be looking at some alternatives?

And what about what’s ahead, the sacrifices we’ll need to make, the difficulties we’ll face in a stagnant economy?

Judging by the debate, candidates want to score points by relating to Joe Six-Pack. If they really mean it, they could talk in substantive ways about the financial crisis and what they’re going to do about it. Anything less reverts to platitudes and condescension, something the folks on Main Street in small- town America can figure out for themselves.

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