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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

From the last debate: should we be buying mortgages?

In last night's debate, Sen. McCain suggested that the Treasury Secretary should be buying up individual mortgages to help out homeowners. Seems like a winner for the middle class, until you read up a bit more. Get the skinny from economist Brad DeLong:

The McCain plan is:
  • Take $300 billion.
  • Pay double current market value to banks that have troubled mortgages on their books, thus:
    • Give a present of $100 billion to the bankers who made the loans.
    • Acquire and regularize the mortgages of only two-thirds as many homeowners as could have been accomplished if the $300 billion were invested wisely.
There's a big difference here: Democrats want to prevent depression and support the financial markets by investing taxpayer money in banks with troubled assets. Republicans want to give taxpayers money away to the shareholders and managers of banks with troubled assets.

His entire post is worth a read, because he explains the fundamental difference between the European actions and Secretary Paulson's plan, and why the former is a lot more likely to return taxpayer money.

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