Well, not really. Just another smear to slam down.
Gov. Sarah Palin made her first potentially major gaffe during her time on the national scene while discussing the developments of the perilous housing market this past weekend.
Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” The companies, as McClatchy reported, “aren’t taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization.”
What a lightweight! Except, she’s getting defended! By some wingnut blogger? Not so much; rather, her defender is Peter Viles, a blogger at the notorious neocon publication the Los Angeles Times:
My take: The Palin comment is well within the margin of error on the campaign trail. There is no “gaffe” here. Congress earlier this summer — in the housing bill that both John McCain and Barack Obama supported but didn’t bother to vote on — gave Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson a blank check* to invest in Fannie or Freddie. It OK’d a big bailout. Perhaps in your book a blank check freshly signed by Congress is not “too expensive.” Perhaps you trust the government not to spend a blank check. Perhaps pigs have wings. Palin was right: The very existence of a blank check means that Fannie and Freddie are too expensive to taxpayers.
*In a comforting bedtime story that several members of Congress actually believed, Paulson said the blank check was so big and powerful (a bazooka of cash!) he would never have to use it. By the time Palin spoke, it was clear that Paulson’s attempt at “verbal intervention” had failed and that real taxpayer money will be spent to prop up Fannie and Freddie. No one knows how much, but the Treasury has signed contracts to invest up to $100 billion in each company. Oh, and loan them money too. Oh, and buy their mortgage-backed securities. Do you really want to argue that she made a mistake by saying the two companies are “too big and too expensive to the taxpayers”?
Give her time, and a few one-on-one interviews. I’m certain she’s as capable of the other three of a real screwup. This is not it.
Even HuffPo heavy breather Stein himself acknowledges at the tail end of his post that, well, Palin is technically correct — but certainly, she can’t have been aware of it!
There are varying explanations that could be offered for Palin’s defense. As O’Driscoll noted, both Fannie and Freddie “were hybrid institutions because they had private ownership but… an implicit government guarantee which people thought at the end of the day was explicit.” Meanwhile, as [Dean] Baker [co-director of the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research] noted, as of July the two lenders were being offered low market interest rates by the fed again, theoretically, at the taxpayer’s expense. But, he added, “I kind of doubt she had any sense of that.”
What with her being a woman and all.