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Working poor didn't cause crash

I must take issue with letter writer Stanley Glinka's assertion that it was "the policy of forcing banks to give loans to people who could not afford them" that led to our current financial mess ("Stop blaming Bush," May 1).

First of all, we need to remember that the bad loans that crashed the economy were in the trillions of dollars, and low-income Americans obviously did not receive trillions of dollars in loans in the years up to the crash. There is legislation called the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which was designed to force FDIC-insured institutions to apply the same loan standards to all of their customers in an effort to stop the "red-lining" of low-income minority neighborhoods. But that legislation was passed in 1977.

If giving loans to poor people was the cause of the 2007-08 Great Recession, then why did it take 30 years? Also, the CRA only applies to retail banks, not to investment houses like Goldman-Sachs, giant insurance firms like AIG, or mortgage companies like Countrywide, which were the overwhelming source of the vast majority of bad subprime loans that fueled the real estate bubble. Poor people do not have the economic or political power to take down our economy. The top 1 percent do, however. That is where independents, conservatives and liberals need to focus with regards to future reform.

Jay Hilgartner, Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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