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GOP Candidates Thrash GSEs, Dodd-Frank at Debate

Candidates for the Republican presidential nomination roundly criticized ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ Monday, taking swipes at rival and former House Speaker ""Newt Gingrich"":http://www.newt.org/ for services he rendered to the mortgage company as an independent contractor in 2006.

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Rival former Gov. ""Mitt Romney"":http://www.mittromney.com/ (R-Massachusetts) highlighted Gingrich's contract with the GSE at a nationally televised ""debate"":http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4BuTa6rE4I Monday, accusing the House speaker of contract work at the behest of a ""chief lobbyist"" at Freddie Mac.

""Freddie Mac paid Gingrich millions of dollars and cost the people of Florida millions,"" he said.

""There is no lobbying and I was never paid for lobbying,"" the former House speaker said during the debate, adding: ""People need to vote no and not give Freddie Mac any money.""

Earlier Monday ""The Gingrich Group"":http://www.gingrichgroup.com/ ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô founded by its namesake and currently doing business as the Center for Health Transformation ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô revealed that Freddie Mac paid Gingrich $25,000 in monthly fees for consulting services he rendered to the mortgage company as an independent contractor.

The ""documents"":http://www.healthtransformation.net/galleries/default-file/FreddieMacAgreement.pdf released by the group show that he received $300,000 in maximum allowable fees annually.

Romney's campaign continues to finance a slew of ads targeting Gingrich's role with Freddie as the Florida GOP

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primary nears, with one recently criticizing the House speaker for taking in $1.6 million ""by the scandal-ridden agency that helped create the crisis.""

The debate gave candidates the opportunity to touch on the housing crisis in a state known for a foreclosure glut.

While repeatedly citing the need to improve sagging home values, Romney said that Dodd-Frank ""makes it almost impossible for community banks,"" adding that it is ""killing the residential home market.""

Asked about the legislative overhaul, Gingrich said simply, ""Repeal Dodd-Frank tomorrow... Federal regulators are crippling small business lending... When you put that much power in the Treasury under [Secretary Timothy] Geithner, it leads to corruption, big banks getting bigger. It's a bad idea.""

Former Sen. ""Rick Santorum"":http://www.ricksantorum.com/ (R-Pennsylvania) offered his ideas about the financial crisis, saying that the federal government needs to ""constrain"" ""Fannie Mae"":http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and Freddie, which he called ""behemoths.""

Further remarks suggested that the candidate would want to preserve the mortgage interest rate tax deduction and refrain from committing to future bailouts.

Notably, few used the debate to slam any of the current candidates for positions taken in previous electoral contests. An MSNBC ""transcript"":http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22799665/ns/politics-the_debates/t/jan-republican-debate-transcript/ from 2008 shows that Romney praised then-President George W. Bush for helping to expand the ""Federal Housing Administration"":http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/fhahistory.cfm (FHA) during the housing crisis.

He said that ""loosening those requirements and expanding the ability of FHA to help out homeowners will make a big difference.""

The FHA recently netted criticism from market watchers concerned that depleted capital reserves could require a bailout from the Treasury Department.

""Joseph Gyourko"":http://real-estate.wharton.upenn.edu/people/faculty.cfm?id=805, a real estate finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania, galvanized concerns with a recent report that said the FHA could need $50 to $100 billion.

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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