Earlier on FishbowlDC: “White House v. The New York Times … Round 41”
From today’s press briefing by Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto:
Q Tony, the White House seemed a little perturbed with a front-page story yesterday questioning the President’s approach to dealing with the housing crisis. I’m wondering if you are satisfied with how early problems in the housing market were diagnosed by the White House, and how aggressively the President and the White House approached the problems as they became more apparent.
MR. FRATTO: I think we are satisfied with the aggressiveness of our response, that when we saw the problems in the housing market we quickly tried to develop programs to deal with it. You’re always going to have people looking back and second-guessing decisions that the administration makes or doesn’t make. Given the severity of the crisis, we would all like to have acted more quickly and seen the potential impact of the housing crisis more quickly. But I think at the time, in the time that those decisions were made, I think most observers felt that they were the right decisions at the right time.
Our concern with the article yesterday was that it had a narrow focus, and that was to simply blame the housing crisis and the resulting financial crisis on this administration’s push for homeownership. And that is about as myopic as you can get, and unsophisticated as you can get an understanding of the housing crisis and the financial crisis. And if you go back to the President’s address to the nation at the time that we were requesting funds from Congress to deal with the financial crisis, the President went through a very detailed explanation for all of the causes of the housing and the financial crisis. And people are free to take a look at them and make a judgment as to whether they are the right ones, or whether each one of them is weighted properly, but I think most economists agree that it’s no one factor that led to the downturn in housing and the financial crisis.
But we’ve acted very aggressively and we’re proud of the work that we’ve done and the creativity here and at the Treasury Department and the actions that the Fed has taken to deal with an unprecedented crisis.