In last night’s Republican primary debate, Newt Gingrich attacked Mitt Romney for his ties to Goldman Sachs.
The problem is that Gingrich’s claim doesn’t hold water.
Here’s what Gingrich said: “Governor Romney owns share — has an investment in Goldman Sachs, which is today foreclosing on Floridians.”
A significant portion of Mitt Romney’s blind trust is indeed managed by Goldman Sachs.
But is Goldman foreclosing homes in Florida?
Short answer: no.
Two types of entities foreclose on homes.
The first are banks that hold mortgages in a form known as a ‘whole loan.’ A whole loan is a mortgage that is fully owned by the bank. It is not part of Goldman’s business model to hold whole loans. Currently the firm holds a very, very small number of whole loans in its Goldman Sachs Bank USA division. But it’s not out foreclosing on homes up and down Flor dia.
The second type of entity that can foreclose homes are mortgage servicers. Goldman Sachs sold its relatively small mortgage servicing business, Litton Loan Servicing, in June 2011. And that business was sanctioned, along with others in the industry, for the abuses. Litton’s business model does involve foreclosures, but that cannot support the claim that Goldman is currently foreclosing on Floridian’s homes.
Gingrich’s broader claim that his opponent’s investments profited from foreclosures is much murkier but similarly misguided. Josh Israel has claimed this statement can be correct because a fund that Romney’s blind trust held a quarter of its assets in mortgage products, including loans from Washington Mutual and Countrywide. Mortgages from these two originators have high foreclosure rates.
But this claim, much like Gingrich’s assertion that Romney owned shares in Fannie and Freddie because a mutual fund in the trust held these shares, can only be supported if you almost intentionally misunderstand how investment funds actually work. The relationship between individual assets in a fund, let alone decisions relating to individual stocks or how to handle collateral and foreclosure issues on individual mortgages, is too tenuous to support Gingrich’s claim.
Newt went way beyond what facts can support with his claim that Goldman Sachs is currently foreclosing homes in Florida and that Mitt Romney was profiting from these foreclosures. He choose to pander and pander falsely.
Gingrich choose to make an indefensible attack on his rival in a week when Romney’s tax disclosures provided plenty of material for fact-based rhetoric.
Instead, Newt demonstrated what former Senator Bob Dole said just yesterday: “I never did know what [Newt] was doing or why he was doing it, and I’m not certain he knew either.”