The inauguration hasn’t even happened yet, and already the Democrats are mindlessly flailing against the Trump administration. Thus last week Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, sent a letter to Treasury secretary-designee Steve Mnuchin that seemed to take Mnuchin to task for his sin of having once been a banker and, worse, a hedge fund operator. “The American public deserves to know where Mr. Mnuchin stands on the important housing and finance issues that he will oversee,” Brown said in a statement released with the letter. “While he made a fortune from the financial crisis, far too many Ohioans have yet to recover from it.”
The “fortune from the financial crisis” Brown is referring to has to do with the government-assisted resolution of the old IndyMac (now OneWest) where Mnuchin was installed as CEO. In the course of getting things turned around, OneWest (gasp!) foreclosed on 36,000 defaulted mortgage borrowers. Brown also asked Mnuchin, who’s said he wants the federal government to divest its ownership of its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stakes, how “your past business—and presumably social—connections to hedge fund partners who invested in preferred shares” of the GSEs would affect his policy views.
I have just one question: is this the best Brown can do? Here his party just got walloped in an election that put the Democrats in a weaker position nationwide than they’ve been at any time since the 1920s, and all the Senator can come up with is a gripe about OneWest’s legitimate foreclosures on defaulted borrowers. I don’t like seeing people lose their homes any more than anyone else does, but that’s what happens when you fall behind on your mortgage. This was a government-assisted deal, remember, so that Mnuchin’s and OneMain’s actions saved taxpayers millions of dollars. In the meantime, the recession’s over, the housing market has recovered, and foreclosures simply aren’t the hot-button issue that they once were. Brown’s own Ohio voters seem to understand that—which is why they voted for Trump last month rather than Hillary Clinton.
Sen. Brown’s letter to Mnuchin last week was simply a standard-issue partisan hatchet job. Brown likely has zero interest in what Mnuchin’s actual policy views are, and instead merely wants to make Mnuchin look bad. That’s his prerogative, I suppose. I’m just surprised he’s being so blatant and simple-minded about it.
What do you think? Let me know!