One of North Carolina’s new men on Capitol Hill went after one of its older guys on the block in a Beltway sparring match.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Charlotte Republican, took to Twitter this week to deliver his sharpest blows publicly against former Democratic Charlotte Rep. Mel Watt, who is now the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. He did so during a financial services hearing, as he and fellow House Republicans questioned Watt for four hours about some controversial moves he made in an effort to help more people obtain a mortgage.
Washington policies, supported by Mel Watt, helped put people in homes they couldn’t afford to keep. Live 10 AM: http://t.co/5YuZ4apCJA— Rep Robert Pittenger (@reppittenger) January 27, 2015
Washington policies, supported by Mel Watt, led to Inflated home $, record foreclosures, largest taxpayer-funded bailout in history— Rep Robert Pittenger (@reppittenger) January 27, 2015
The three tweets citing Watt were among more than a half dozen Pittenger sent criticizing Watt, Washington policies, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while encouraging followers to tune into the hearing.
The FHFA’s main role is to oversee the quasi-governmental housing finance entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own or guarantee about half of all new U.S. home loans. The government took them over in late 2008 after the financial crisis. Republicans have long wanted to do away with the two mortgage titans, blaming them for causing the housing crisis in the first place. But Democrats insist Wall Street banks competing with Fannie and Freddie were the force behind shotty subprime lending.
On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee contended that Watt’s moves, such as allowing mortgages to some buyers who make lower down payments of just 3 percent, puts the country at risk of another housing bubble.
Watt, who used to sit on the committee, defended the FHFA’s efforts as a way to help people obtain homes, but said the agency was looking at other factors to ensure taxpayers were protected.
“When you pair the down payment with other compensating factors, which is a part of the sentence that apparently people missed when I announced this, you can make a 3 percent down payment loan as secure,” he testified.
He has not responded publicly to Pittenger’s tweets.
Pittenger, who represents North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, took office a few months before Watt, who represented the 12th District, was nominated for his new role. And while they’re from two different districts, their ties to Charlotte are strong. It’s not uncommon for Republicans, Pittenger included, to attack policies of the Obama administration. But the strike from Pittenger shows the Charlotte-bond can take you only so far.