How Fannie, Freddie Became Kings Of The Hill Homeowners might think of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as just the big dogs of the mortgage business, but in Washington, D.C., they're known as big players in lobbying. The two companies managed to stave off government regulation for years by lobbying hard — and spending generously.
NPR logo

How Fannie, Freddie Became Kings Of The Hill

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92540620/92545006" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
How Fannie, Freddie Became Kings Of The Hill

How Fannie, Freddie Became Kings Of The Hill

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92540620/92545006" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

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.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.