DEBORAH AMOS, Host:
NPR's Peter Overby has more.
PETER OVERBY: Take that kind of clout, then add Fannie and Freddie's huge mortgage portfolios reaching into every corner of the country, and it's easy to see why the companies have never lacked for confidence on Capitol Hill.
F: given the housing crisis, Mudd said, there should be some flexibility in regulation. He warned against what he called arbitrary limits.
AMOS: Yes indeed, these are tough times, and that is when you want a Fannie Mae around.
OVERBY: In fact, Fannie and Freddie have made it a point always to be around Capitol Hill and around the rest of official Washington too. Former Congressman Jim Leach is an Iowa Republican and an old nemesis of Fannie and Freddie. In Congress, he helped lead the push to rein them in.
AMOS: Well, there have been a lot of rhetorical efforts to tighten regulation, but Fannie and Freddie have both done a pretty deft job of fending that off.
OVERBY: Jim Leach, now head of the Kennedy School's Institute of Politics and chairman of the watchdog group Common Cause, says he finds that especially troubling.
AMOS: They have done an awful lot in terms of the money game that causes the kinds of conflicts of interest that bedevil the American political system.
OVERBY: But now the housing crisis has overtaken the old realities. Mike House is director of FM Policy Focus, a lobbying group that's campaigned for years to regulate the GSEs more strictly. Even now House isn't ready to say their influence on Capitol Hill will diminish.
AMOS: They'll have clout because of the role they have. Whether it's more or less, we'll just have to see.
OVERBY: Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.
AMOS: To see a list of politicians who once worked for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, go to NPR.org.
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