Mr. Chairman, Senator Gramm, and distinguished members of the Committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would
also like to express my deep appreciation to President George W.
Bush for his confidence in me, as evidenced by his nominating me
to be the President of Ginnie Mae, the Government National Mortgage
Association. In addition, I would like to indicate my gratitude
to Secretary Mel Martinez for selecting me to serve in a strategic
position on his team.
Upon learning of the President's interest to nominate me, I called
my father - who is 92, to share the good news. His response was,
"Not bad for an immigrant's son." If the truth be known, he was
an illegal immigrant, who managed to elude our immigration officials
for a few years, but was ultimately caught and deported. His incredible
good fortune was that he was deported to Canada rather than to Eastern
Europe from where he came. He subsequently met my mother, who had
legally immigrated from Eastern Europe, and they were married in
1935. At the time of their marriage, they had a net worth of $100.00.
The success of our family cannot be explained by "compound interest."
But rather, that success is attributable to hard work, opportunity
and giving their only child the educational opportunities they never
The story of my family is wonderful, but it is not unique. With
slight variations, it is the story of the Martinez family, the Jackson
family, and the Bernardi family. Each of these family names is now
preceded by the title of Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Assistant
Secretary. These people, together with John Weicher, Dick Hauser
and myself, if confirmed, and others yet to be selected, will be
the people to whom President George W. Bush has entrusted the leadership
of the Department of Housing and Urban Development - only in America!
I am honored to have been chosen by President George W. Bush and
Secretary Martinez to be President of Ginnie Mae. If I am confirmed,
I will strive with all my energies and abilities to meet their every
expectation. I am sure that like most every other Presidential appointee
who has appeared before this distinguished body, I never dreamed
of having the privilege of serving our country in this way. But
having said that, I believe that I bring to this opportunity a background
and level of experience that is most appropriate.
Upon graduating from law school, I chose not to practice law but
rather, to become an undercapitalized homebuilder. Actually, being
undercapitalized was not a choice but just a reality. There is simply
no better way to learn about the importance of credit than by not
having it, and there is no better way to understand the significance
of the continuity of credit than by having your customers being
unable to purchase your product.
After about 15 years in the real estate development business which
had expanded into multifamily and commercial development, I became
a partner in a regional investment banking firm. This was my introduction
to capital markets and the world of Wall Street.
With the backdrop of the oil bust and the savings and loan crisis,
I joined HUD in 1989, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Single Family
Housing. This historically obscure post had the challenge of disposing
of 70,000 single family foreclosed houses - a formidable task in
traumatic times. I moved on to become the General Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Housing - FHA Commissioner.
Subsequent to that, I was asked to represent the Administration
in its relations with the real estate industry while serving at
the Department of the Treasury. Throughout this entire period, markets
were not functioning and our real estate credit system was in shambles.
Fortunately, time and prudent stewardship have a way of resolving
problems and after a few years, order was restored.
Thereafter, my wife and I went to Oklahoma to help a friend who
had been elected governor. We intended to stay about four months
and we wound up staying four years as a result of the Oklahoma City
bombing. After that horrific event, Governor Keating asked if I
would help him enhance the economic viability of the State as Secretary
of Commerce. In that capacity, I learned about the challenges of
living in small towns, rural areas and underserved markets.
One might reasonably ask - what does that background and those
experiences have to do with Ginnie Mae? The answer is everything.
Ginnie Mae's mission is to help provide affordable homeownership
opportunities for all Americans by facilitating efficient secondary
market activities for federally issued or guaranteed mortgages,
thus linking the capital and Federal housing markets. In somewhat
clearer terms, Ginnie Mae is about credit, capital and the providing
of resources to underserved areas.
Historically, Ginnie Mae has been a very well run organization.
As President, I will be guided by that old medical adage, "Do no
harm", as well as my own desire to do good. Most of us in this chamber
know the thrill and the significance of owning our first home, yet
there are many Americans who have not yet had that experience. They
deserve a chance, and it is the role of Ginnie Mae to help make
Secretary Martinez has made it a cornerstone of his Administration
to expand homeownership for low- and moderate-income families. I
believe that Ginnie Mae, together with its partners in the private
sector as well as FHA, the Veterans Administration and the Rural
Housing Service, can do exactly that. I welcome the chance to be
a participant in this very worthwhile endeavor.
Thank you for your consideration.
Last modified: June
Content Archived: March 17, 2010