Senator Jim Bunning said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, by rescuing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is acting like China's finance minister and both Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke should step down.
``I sincerely believe that Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke should resign,'' said Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky on the Senate Banking Committee. ``They have taken the free market out of the free market.''
Paulson and the federal regulator for Fannie and Freddie placed the two largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies in a government-operated conservatorship on Sept. 7, ousting their chief executives and eliminating their dividends. Treasury also may purchase up to $200 billion of stock in the firms to keep them solvent.
``We no longer have a free market in the United States, we have a government controlled free market,'' Bunning said in an interview. Paulson, a former chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., ``is acting like the minister of finance in China.''
Bunning, 76, criticized Paulson's successful effort in July to obtain congressional authority to pump unlimited amounts of money into Fannie and Freddie to keep them afloat.
``When I picked up my newspaper yesterday, I thought I woke up in France. But no, it turned out it was socialism here in the United States,'' he told Paulson at a July 15 Senate Banking Committee hearing.
Following Paulson's Sept. 7 announcement of the takeover of Fannie and Freddie, Bunning said he now feels like a citizen of China.
Former Phillies Pitcher
``No company fails in communist China, because they're all partly owned by the government,'' said the former pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Bunning accused Paulson of deception when he told Congress in July that the Treasury's plan would instill such confidence among investors that it would never have to be used.
Paulson ``saw and knew what was happening, and didn't tell the truth to the banking committee,'' Bunning said yesterday.
Treasury spokeswoman Michele Davis didn't respond to requests for comment.
Bunning, a critic of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, faults Bernanke for lax supervision of the mortgage market.
The Fed chief waited too long to require lenders to change how they write mortgages, Bunning said. ``I mean he just did it two months ago. Come on.''
Comment: Well Congress gave up its authority years ago. Only restoration of the US Senate through the repeal of the 17th Amendment will restore the Congress it its rightful place within the Constitution.