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The Obama Revolving Door: Mortgage subsidy chief cashes out to Mortgage Bankers Association

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Barack Obama's housing policy involved quite a bit of trying to throw taxpayer money at underwater housing, expanding subsidies, expanding TARP, and so on. Most notably, there was Obama's "Backdoor Bank Bailout." Now one of the architects of Obama's housing policy, Federal Housing Authority Commissioner David Stevens, is cashing out to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Washington Posts's Dina Elboghdady reports:

After joining FHA in July 2009, Stevens quickly emerged as a major player in crafting the Obama administration’s housing policy. He’s been deeply involved in several high-profile initiatives that involve the mortgage banking industry....

The Post reports that Stevens has been sure to stop working on mortgage stuff since he started negotiating with the mortgage bankers. That's good. It means he's not working for the MBA and the taxpayer at the same time. But it doesn't address the problem of the revolving door..

If Stevens had generally been less friendly to industry -- had he decided to let the mortgage market fall more freely or punish lenders more harshly (that is, had he been more Right or more Left) -- would industry have considered hiring him? The incentives for powerful bureaucrats are to be "responsible" and "pragmatic" -- which usually means friendly to the industry you're regulating and subsidizing.

Some other top Obama officials cashing out to work for big banks:

  • Deputy White House Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen, now a lobbyist for UBS.
  • White House Counsel Greg Craig, who went to Goldman Sachs
  • Budget Director Peter Orszag, who went to Citigroup
  • Labor Department aide Oscar Ramirez who represents Bank of America at the Podesta Group
  • Top Treasury Department aide Damon Munchus, who now lobbies for Citigroup and the International Swaps & Derivatives Association, among others.


 

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