Cuomo caused mortgage meltdown, now he wants to be New York's governor? 

New York's fading incumbent chief executive, David Paterson, is helping his most likely successor, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, by distracting attention away from the central fact about the former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary: Decisions he made in Washington between 1997 and 2001 were key factors in causing the mortgage meltdown of 2008.

That's not a partisan assessment, it's the view of, among many others, The Village Voice's Wayne Barrett. Here's Barrett's summary from an August 2008 feature that is likely to get renewed attention in coming months if Cuomo makes the run for governor:

"Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis. He took actions that—in combination with many other factors—helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments.

"He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded 'kickbacks' to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why."

Re-reading the entire piece is a bracing reminder of the fact that decisions made today in government often have consequences that don't become fully evident until years later. By then, of course, it's too late to do anything but try to clean up the mess as best we can.

After leaving HUD, Cuomo went on to become New York's attorney general and now, like his famous father before him, he is all but officially seeking to be the Empire State's governor. That job has in the past been a springboard to much bigger things, and Cuomo has until recently seemed a shoe-in to take this next big step.

But people are beginning to focus now on Cuomo's record in a much more detailed way and what they are finding is not going to do him any good. As an example, CNBC's Maria Bartiromo interviewed Wall Street analyst Dick Bove, who makes a devastating case that Cuomo's decisions as HUD secretary led directly to the economic meltdown in 2008:

"One of the key reasons why [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are] bankrupt today, and why the government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in supporting them, is because of the edicts pushed through by Mr. Cuomo," Bove told Bartiromo.

"It's also thought by many that the hundreds of thousands of people who are losing their homes, are [doing so] to a great degree because of the actions taken by Mr. Cuomo at HUD," he said.

Bove warned that Cuomo would likely take actions as governor to "attack the most important industry in the state," Wall Street, and that this would cause numerous high-income individuals and corporations that are critical to the state's tax base to leave for friendlier climes, such as Florida, where Bove, a native New Yorker, now resides and works for Rochdale Securities.

You can watch the entire CNBC interview here:

HT: Doug Ross for pointing out the CNBC interview with Bove.

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Mark Tapscott

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