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Can You Imagine the Outcry?

Here’s a letter that I sent today to USA Today:

You say that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke “should have done much more to regulate lenders who were handing out mortgages with no regard for the borrowers’ ability to pay” (“Bernanke merits new term as Federal Reserve chairman,” Jan. 27).  This assertion has become an absurd mantra.

While Mr. Bernanke’s misjudgments and mistakes are too many, the alleged error that you mention isn’t among them.  How would Capitol Hill, the White House, and the popular media have reacted had the Fed in, say, 2005 and 2006 stopped low-income Americans from getting mortgage loans?  What would you and your peers at publications such as the New York Times and The Nation have written if Mr. Bernanke had then justified this intervention by saying that poor Americans lack the financial smarts of richer Americans and, therefore, can’t be trusted to go into debt in order to buy homes?

Donald J. Boudreaux