Here is what Mitt Romney said to a private audience at a recent fundraiser:
“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” he said. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later.”
So, the Housing and Urban Development Department is going away? No so fast.
It is irresponsible to make such hearty assumptions with only a two-sentence mention of something that might be done by a potential candidate for president. A two-sentence remark, I might add, that does not mention whether HUD would be combined with another organization or eliminated — either of which would result in the department "not (being) around later” but may not result in the end of the Federal Housing Administration.
There is no reason to believe that Mitt Romney, a man who made his entire fortune on investments, would eliminate HUD.
Ginnie Mae, which is controlled by HUD and relies on the FHA, is a cash cow for the U.S. government. In 2011, Ginnie Mae — which is a wholly owned governmental entity — netted a profit of $1.2 billion and 2012 looks even stronger.
No reasonable investor is going to eliminate something that lucrative. Romney is certainly that, and he’s got millions and millions of dollars to prove it.
So, journalists flying off the handle and making wild accusations after a largely noncommittal statement are only making this election season more turbulent.
By all means, if and when Romney unequivocally says he will eliminate HUD entirely without combining any of its responsibilities with another government department, and then do away with the FHA and everything it’s responsible for, we can have the financial journalism collective freak-out.
But until that time, let’s not add fuel to the fire by participating in speculating wildly about something that, frankly, isn’t ever going to happen.