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Obama's Top Housing Policy Adviser Becomes Mortgage Banker Lobbyist

A key adviser to President Barack Obama on housing and mortgage policy is set to become the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Barack Obama
AP
Barack Obama


Now I'm pretty cynical about politics. But this news made me stop and gasp.

David H. Stevens announced last week that he was leaving the Federal Housing Authority last week. At the time, he said he had no plans for his future employment. But, as it turns out, he's becoming a lobbyist.

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, including current negotiations that will determine what kinds of fines and penalties might be imposed on mortgage servicers who took part in shoddy mortgage foreclosure practices.

A key adviser to President Barack Obama on housing and mortgage policy is set to become the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Stevens no doubt has had a hand in most of the Obama administration's housing and mortgage policies over the past year and half--almost of which have involved subsidies for housing and giveaways to banks.

"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?" my brother Tim Carney asks at The Washington Examiner. "The incentives for powerful bureaucrats are to be 'responsible' and 'pragmatic' -- which usually means friendly to the industry you're regulating and subsidizing."

Tim goes on to point out 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.

This is a far cry from what some of us expected when candidate Obama pledged he was "closing the revolving door."

"No political appointees in an Obama Administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years," Obama wrote back during the 2008 campaign.

Ain't democracy grand?


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