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 intent 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 had.
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 daunting 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 the 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 that possible.
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.
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