GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann (R) has been in hot water in recent weeks for personally taking advantage of hundreds of thousands of dollars in government aid while denouncing the very programs she benefited from. Most recently, the Washington Post discovered that Bachmann and her husband signed for a $417,000 home loan backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac just weeks before she called for the two mortgage giants to be entirely dismantled.
Bachmann has been a consistently fierce critic of mortgage lending programs and has advocated abolishing the government sponsored mortgage enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Yet she took out the maximum possible loan from those programs to finance her family’s move to a lavish 5,200-square-foot home on a golf course.
During an appearance this afternoon at the National Press Club, Bachmann gave a highly ironic defense of her use of federal home loans:
MODERATOR: I got a lot of questions from people asking is it fair for you to call for dismantling federal programs you ultimately have been a beneficiary of? So in terms of guaranteeing home mortgages, do you think the federal government has a role in that…?
BACHMANN: Now unlike all of you, who I’m sure pay cash for your homes, there are people out there like myself who actually have to go to a bank and get a mortgage. And this is the problem. It’s almost impossible to buy a home in this country today without the federal government being involved. Whether it is with the FHA, whether it’s with Fannie, whether it’s with Freddie, it’s almost impossible to buy a home…What’s important is that we do dismantle a number of these federal programs that everyone agrees are clearly out of control.
Bachmann’s disapproval of federal home loan programs obviously didn’t stop her from using them to buy an enormous house for herself. During recent campaign stops, Bachmann has bragged that her family simply “did without” government aid when times were tough, but apparently this time they couldn’t help themselves.
Bachmann said she wants the federal government to get out of the business of guaranteeing mortgages and leave it to the private sector. But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently insure around 90 percent of home loans, and it’s unlikely that homeownership would be as widely accessible without some sort of government backing for home loans. If Bachmann had her way, the U.S. would go back to an era where only the very rich could get mortgages.
At the event, Bachmann also largely dodged questions about her personal finances and her husband’s use of Medicaid funds for his clinic which uses a discredited form of “ex-gay” therapy.