MSNBC's Brewer on McCain's housing crisis speech: "Is this a real turning point for him, being this specific and detailed on what the economy needs?"

››› ››› MEREDITH ADAMS

After playing a video clip of Sen. John McCain's March 25 speech on the housing crisis, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer asked, "Is this a real turning point for him, being this specific and detailed on what the economy needs?" Brewer provided no examples from the speech to support her claim that McCain was being "specific and detailed on what the economy needs." In fact, in the speech, McCain's "specific" proposals consisted of changes to the tax code that he has previously endorsed, raising the down payment requirement for Federal Housing Authority loans and convening two meetings.

On the March 25 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Contessa Brewer played a clip of Sen. John McCain's March 25 speech on the housing crisis, in which McCain said, "Any assistance for borrowers should be focused solely on homeowners, not people who bought houses for speculative purposes, to rent, or as second homes. Any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who are irresponsible at the expense of those who weren't." Brewer then said to NBC News and National Journal reporter Adam Aigner-Treworgy: "So, Adam, a few months ago, McCain famously said he doesn't know much about the economy. Is this a real turning point for him, being this specific and detailed on what the economy needs?" Brewer provided no examples from the speech to support her claim that McCain was being "specific and detailed on what the economy needs." In fact, in the speech, McCain's "specific" proposals consisted of changes to the tax code that he has previously endorsed and, to address the home mortgage crisis, raising the down payment requirement for Federal Housing Authority loans and convening two meetings. Indeed, in his response, Aigner-Treworgy stated that "he didn't necessarily roll out any new economic policy today. Much of what he said, he has said before." Aigner-Treworgy added: "[I]t went to some extent, helped him in trying to prove that he knew what the problem was, he understood how to -- at least one way of how to solve it. But I don't know necessarily whether it showed that he had a really strong grasp on all the details of a possible solution."

In the same segment of MSNBC Live, noting Nancy Reagan's endorsement of McCain, Brewer uncritically reported that Reagan "says she typically waits until after the GOP convention to announce her support," even though Reagan had endorsed George W. Bush well before the convention in 2000.

Media Matters for America has previously noted that on February 14, Brewer defended McCain's reversals on tax cuts and immigration with falsehoods.

From McCain's March 25 speech:

McCAIN: In our effort to help deserving homeowners, no assistance should be given to speculators. Any assistance for borrowers should be focused solely on homeowners, not people who bought houses for speculative purposes, to rent or as second homes. Any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren't. I will consider any and all proposals based on their cost and benefits. In this crisis, as in all I may face in the future, I will not allow dogma to override common sense.

When we commit taxpayer dollars as assistance, it should be accompanied by reforms that ensure that we never face this problem again. Central to those reforms should be transparency and accountability.

Homeowners should be able to understand easily the terms and obligations of a mortgage. In return, they have an obligation to provide truthful financial information and should be subject to penalty if they do not. Lenders who initiate loans should be held accountable for the quality and performance of those loans and strict standards should be required in the lending process. We must have greater transparency in the lending process so that every borrower knows exactly what he is agreeing to and where every lender is required to meet the highest standards of ethical behavior.

Policies should move toward ensuring that homeowners provide a responsible down payment of equity at the initial purchase of a home. I therefore oppose reducing the down payment requirement for FHA mortgages and believe that, as conditions allow, the down payment requirement should be raised. So many homeowners have found themselves owing more than their home is worth, because many never had much equity in the house to begin with. When conditions return to normal, GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises) should never insure loans when the homeowner clearly does not have skin in the game.

In financial institutions, there is no substitute for adequate capital to serve as a buffer against losses. Our financial market approach should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting and tax impediments to raising capital.

I am prepared to examine new proposals and evaluate them based on these principals. But I think we need to do two things right away. First, it is time to convene a meeting of the nation's accounting professionals to discuss the current mark to market accounting systems. We are witnessing an unprecedented situation as banks and investors try to determine the appropriate value of the assets they are holding and there is widespread concern that this approach is exacerbating the credit crunch.

We should also convene a meeting of the nation's top mortgage lenders. Working together, they should pledge to provide maximum support and help to their cash-strapped, but credit worthy customers. They should pledge to do everything possible to keep families in their homes and businesses growing. Recall that immediately after September 11, 2001 General Motors stepped in to provide 0 percent financing as part of keeping the economy growing. We need a similar response by the mortgage lenders. They've been asking the government to help them out. I'm now calling upon them to help their customers, and their nation out. It's time to help American families.

From the 4 p.m. ET hour of the March 25 edition of MSNBC Live:

BREWER: Mrs. Reagan says she typically waits until after the GOP convention to announce her support, but says it's clear the Republican Party has chosen its nominee. The highly coveted and symbolic endorsement is a significant boon for John McCain's campaign today.

Earlier in the day, he was all business, speaking at a small business roundtable, and he gave his assessment of the economy.

McCAIN [video clip]: Any assistance for borrowers should be focused solely on homeowners, not people who bought houses for speculative purposes, to rent, or as second homes. Any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who are irresponsible at the expense of those who weren't.

BREWER: Adam Aigner covers the McCain campaign for the NBC News and National Journal, on the phone with me now. So, Adam, a few months ago, McCain famously said he doesn't know much about the economy. Is this a real turning point for him, being this specific and detailed on what the economy needs?

AIGNER-TREWORGY: You know, it's interesting. He seemed to almost be trying to disprove the fact that he ever said that quote today by giving a sort of short primer on the economy, and how the housing bubble came to be and how its effect has spread beyond just subprime mortgages. And the whole beginning part of his speech today was really just an introduction to economics and sort of putting the problem that we're facing right now in layman's terms. I think -- he didn't necessarily roll out any new economic policy today. Much of what he said, he has said before. What was new was he was calling for meetings of the top accounting executives, and accounting firms, and top lenders in the country, and a very corporate-driven assistance plan for homeowners instead of a government-driven assistance plan. So I think it was -- it went to some extent, helped him in trying to prove that he knew what the problem was, he understood how to -- at least one way of how to solve it. But I don't know necessarily whether it showed that he had a really strong grasp on all the details --

BREWER: Yeah.

AIGNER-TREWORGY: -- of a possible solution.

BREWER: So here's McCain when he's out on the campaign trail, Adam. He has already been under fire from Barack Obama and today, the former president, Bill Clinton, was talking about John McCain.

Posted In
Economy, Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Contessa Brewer
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
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