A great piece in today's Wall Street Journal from Brian Carney on the mysterious immunity to reform enjoyed by the utterly dysfunctional Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae:
Fannie and Freddie have liabilities in excess of $5 trillion. They have already directly cost taxpayers nearly $150 billion, with no end in sight. Most of the banks bailed out in the fall of 2008 have gotten back on their feet and many have paid back, or started to pay back, the money provided to recapitalize them at the height of the panic. Not so Fan and Fred. They continue to bleed money, and each quarter brings new losses and new demands on their unlimited line of credit with the federal government, which is to say the American taxpayer. And yet these facts are ignored—not just by Congress or the administration, but by the press and much of the public.
Meanwhile, Fannie and Freddie, failures that they are, have become more central than ever to America's mortgage industry. They underwrite the vast majority of all new home loans, and they own or guarantee about half of all the mortgages outstanding. Our banking system never was nationalized in the crisis, as some urged at the time. But mortgage finance has been, or nearly so, with nary a whisper of debate or protest.