How the Community Reinvestment Act oppressed blacks and other people of color
On September 2, I authored an article entitled “My Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick.” My thoughts when I initially learned about Kaepernick’s actions were, how is the United States currently oppressing black people or all people of color, for that matter? Affirmative action programs are still in place which allow blacks to get “bumped up” ahead of whites with respect to employment, promotions, college acceptance, etc. Along that line, Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act paved the way for many people to qualify for loans to purchase homes when those same people were not capable of making the house payments. A lot of those folks were black. Furthermore, being able to collect welfare for having a child out of wedlock, a part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, was directed toward blacks in order to keep them voting Democrat.
According to discoverthenetworks.org, in his book, Back to Work, former president Bill Clinton attributed the housing market crisis of 2008 to the greed of banks that were over-leveraged, with too many risky investments, especially in subprime mortgages and securities and derivatives that were spun out of them. Clinton opined that the crash occurred because there was too little government oversight of, and virtually no restraint on, risky loans without sufficient capital to back them up. President Obama attributed the crisis to the failed policies of the days when Wall Street, unencumbered by government regulators, played by its own rules.
Discoverthenetworks.org further indicated that the earliest roots of these government policies can be traced back to the mid-1970s when progressive Democrats in Congress began a campaign to help low income minorities improve their economic condition through homeownership. At that time, the homeownership rates of blacks and Hispanics alike were just above 40%, while the white rate hovered nearly 70%. Because the Congressional Democrats felt that these inequities were evidence of America’s persisting racial injustice, many Democrats pushed for measures to rectify the situation.
Henry Reuss, a far-left McGovern Democrat sponsored the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977. Title VIII of this bill, known as the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), required each appropriate Federal financial supervisory agency to assess each bank’s record of helping to meet the credit needs of its entire community, including low and moderate income neighborhoods. In other words, this was a mandate for banks to make special efforts to seek out and lend to minority borrowers of meager to modest means. The bill passed with near unanimous Democrat support and was signed into law by President Carter in 1977.
The law was founded upon a principle with far reaching implications that government intervention was necessary to counteract the racist and inequitable nature of American society, including the free market. In the early 1990s, implications of this premise began to “hit the fan” when studies showing disparate mortgage loan approval rates for blacks and whites resulted in sensational media headlines. In 1992, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released the results of a seminal study which found that whites and blacks with equivalent incomes had been denied mortgages at the rates of 17% and 38% respectively.
As a result of the study, then Attorney General Janet Reno warned that no bank would be immune to an aggressive Justice Department campaign to punish discrimination in lending practices. Also, Comptroller of the Currency, Eugene Ludwig told the Senate Banking Committee, “We have to use every means at our disposal to end discrimination and to end it as quickly as possible.”
Media institutions including not only the liberal Boston Globe, but Business Week jumped on the bandwagon with Business Week sporting a headline that read, “There’s no Whites Only Sign, but…”
A second study that was done for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston showed that black loan applicants not only had greater debt burdens and poorer credit histories than their white counterparts, but also tended to seek loans covering a higher percentage of proper values in question. The later study determined that after correcting for these and other standard credit criteria such as income, net worth, age, education, and probability of employment, the loan rejection gap between racial groups dwindled to 11% for whites and 17% for blacks. By manipulating the numbers, The Boston Federal Reserve Bank report chose to imply that racism played a role in the disparity. For additional statistics, visit DiscoverTheNetworks.org.
The Federal Reserve Board in Washington later re-examined the original Boston Fed Study and found its conclusions difficult to justify. Similarly, Nobel Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, found that the first Boston Fed study had some serious methodological flaws, making its results dubious. Furthermore, in 1988, it was reported that the data used by that study contained literally hundreds of errors via such variables as the net worth of the applicants and the interest rates of the loans they sought. When those data errors were corrected, evidence suggesting that lenders had discriminated against minority borrowers disappeared.
As we all know, Democrats don’t use facts when determining their plans of action, they float on emotions while considering how they, the governing powers, can further intrude into our lives and make us more dependent on big government. Thus, the Clinton administration was determined to transform the CRA from an outreach effort into a strict quota system. Under this new arrangement, if a bank failed to meet its quota for loans to low income minorities, it ran a high risk of failing to earn a satisfactory CRA rating from the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Because this could derail bank operations and expansion, the banks had no recourse other than to drastically lower their standards on down payments and underwriting in order to approve many loans even to borrowers with weak credit credentials.
Additional pressure was applied to banks by community organizations such as ACORN and the Greenlining Institute. By accusing banks, however frivolously or unjustly, of having engaged in racially discriminatory lending practices that violated the mandates of the CRA, these groups could stall or prevent banks from expanding or merging as they wished. Moreover, these groups routinely threatened to file lawsuits or negative publicity campaigns against such banks.
As a result of such pressures, CRA commitments, which from 1977 to 1991 had cumulatively totaled just under $9 billion, suddenly jumped to $34 billion in 2991 alone. Then over the next 16 years, those commitments would amount to $6 trillion.
However, the CRA was not the only mechanism designed by government to impose lending quotas on financial institutions. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the leadership of Henry Cisneros, developed rules encouraging lenders to increase their approval rates for loans to minority applicants by a hefty 20% within one year. In 1993, HUD began filing legal actions against mortgage bankers who had turned down a higher percentage of minority applicants than white applicants, regardless of their reasons for doing so. This caused lenders to lower their down payment and income requirements for minorities. Moreover, HUD pressured the government sponsored institutions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest sources of housing finance in the United States, to earmark a rising number of their own loans for low-income borrowers.
No one supported these reckless lending practices more fervently than Democratic Congressman, Barney Frank, a member of the powerful House Committee on Financial Services. Subsequently in 2004, Frank said that the federal government had probably done too little rather than too much to push Fannie and Freddie to meet the goals of affordable housing. Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, called Freddie and Fannie, of the greatest success stories of all time.
It should be noted, though, that some Republicans were also in favor of lower mortgage approval standards. In 2002, the Bush administration pressed Congress to pass the American Dream Down Payment Initiative to subsidize the down payments and closing costs of low income and first time home buyers. After ADDI was enacted, President Bush also pushed Congress to pass legislation permitting the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to make zero down payment loans at low interest rates to low income individuals.
These political pressures entirely restructured the landscape of the mortgage lending business. Subprime loans, which had constituted just 7% of all mortgages in 2001, accounted for 19% of mortgages by 2006. The situation was exacerbated further by the fact that many banks securitized the risky loans.
The result of these ill-conceived lending practices was a full-blown financial crisis characterized by countless home foreclosures and skyrocketing employment rates. The primary victims of these calamities were non-white minorities of modest means, the very people who were the intended beneficiaries of the CRA, the ADDI, and the aforementioned HUD and FHA policies. As of November 2011, approximately one quarter of all black and Hispanic borrowers had either already lost their homes to foreclosure or were seriously delinquent, compared to just under 12% of white borrowers. These disparities in foreclosure rates were, for the most part, due to African Americans and Hispanics having comparatively poor credit ratings and being disproportionately represented among those who had fallen into the financial trap of the high-priced subprime mortgages encouraged by the CRA and similar government policies.
Is stated by discoverthenetworks.org that the housing market crisis cast a black cloud over what had been one of America’s greatest success stories, the rise of the black middle class. Between 1949 and 1994, the proportion of African Americans in the middle class had nearly quadrupled, from 12% to 44%, an unprecedented advance for any formerly oppressed group in any society on record.
In addition to foreclosures, other indignities suffered by non-white minorities included the loss of jobs and the rising unemployment rates. And if these blows to the black community were not enough, left-wing Democrats, for reasons of promoting economic justice, tried to resurrect the CRA in 2009. In that year, 53 Congressional Democrats sponsored the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act in order to close the wealth gap in the United States by increasing home ownership and small business ownership for low and moderate income borrowers and persons of color. Specifically, the legislation sought to extend the CRA’s strict lending requirements to credit unions, insurance companies and mortgage lenders and to make its mandates more explicitly race-based by applying lower lending standards not only to low and moderate income borrowers, but to any non-white minorities, regardless of income.
Every American, man, woman, and child, was hurt by the Community Reinvestment Act and other liberal/progressive policies that were put in place over the years since the late seventies, with minorities and people of color being hit the hardest.
While very few people “on the street” can intelligently discuss the Community Reinvestment Act, implemented by the far left and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter, this law, to date, as wreaked more suffering on the American people than any other piece of passed legislation and it took it took nearly a generation after its enactment for the full effects to be realized.
I have often said that the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare is the most insidious piece of legislation that has ever been wrought on the American people and I sticking to my statement. It took thirty years for the American people to realize the full results of the Community Reinvestment Act. What is in store for the American people thirty years from now?
Note: The facts and substances of this article originated from the website, http://www.discoverthenetworks.org.