BARACK'S 'ORGANIZER' BUDS PUSHED FOR BAD MORTGAGES
By STANLEY KURTZ
WHAT exactly does a "community organizer" do? Barack Obama's rise has left many Americans asking themselves that question. Here's a big part of the answer: Community organizers intimidate banks into making high-risk loans to customers with poor credit.
In the name of fairness to minorities, community organizers occupy private offices, chant inside bank lobbies, and confront executives at their homes - and thereby force financial institutions to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in mortgages to low-credit customers.
In other words, community organizers help to undermine the US economy by pushing the banking system into a sinkhole of bad loans. And Obama has spent years training and funding the organizers who do it.
THE seeds of today's financial meltdown lie in the Commu nity Reinvestment Act - a law passed in 1977 and made riskier by unwise amendments and regulatory rulings in later decades.
CRA was meant to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, often minorities living in unstable neighborhoods. That has provided an opening to radical groups like ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to abuse the law by forcing banks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in "subprime" loans to often uncreditworthy poor and minority customers.
Any bank that wants to expand or merge with another has to show it has complied with CRA - and approval can be held up by complaints filed by groups like ACORN.
In fact, intimidation tactics, public charges of racism and threats to use CRA to block business expansion have enabled ACORN to extract hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contributions from America's financial institutions.
Banks already overexposed by these shaky loans were pushed still further in the wrong direction when government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began buying up their bad loans and offering them for sale on world markets.
Fannie and Freddie acted in response to Clinton administration pressure to boost homeownership rates among minorities and the poor. However compassionate the motive, the result of this systematic disregard for normal credit standards has been financial disaster.
ONE key pioneer of ACORN's subprime-loan shakedown racket was Madeline Talbott - an activist with extensive ties to Barack Obama. She was also in on the ground floor of the disastrous turn in Fannie Mae's mortgage policies.
Long the director of Chicago ACORN, Talbott is a specialist in "direct action" - organizers' term for their militant tactics of intimidation and disruption. Perhaps her most famous stunt was leading a group of ACORN protesters breaking into a meeting of the Chicago City Council to push for a "living wage" law, shouting in defiance as she was arrested for mob action and disorderly conduct. But her real legacy may be her drive to push banks into making risky mortgage loans.
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