A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Satire Alert: Dodd’s ‘Quote’ on Mortgages

Q: Did Sen. Dodd of Connecticut really say that requiring homebuyers to make a 5 percent down payment "would restrict home ownership to only those who can afford it"?

A: No. This quote was made up by satirist John Semmens, who regularly writes a blog called Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News.


I received this today. Is it correct?

Democrats Vote Down 5 Percent Rule

In a bid to stem taxpayer losses for bad loans guaranteed by federal housing agencies Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn) proposed that borrowers be required to make a 5% down payment in order to qualify. His proposal was rejected 57-42 on a party-line vote because, as Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn) explained, "passage of such a requirement would restrict home ownership to only those who can afford it."


We have received more than a few e-mails lately asking this question about Sen. Chris Dodd, and we have seen this paragraph – word for word – appear in numerous blog postings, primarily on conservative sites. The phony quote attributed to Dodd was even included in Business in the Beltway, a blog on Forbes.com.

The Forbes.com item was written by Bob McTeer of the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis. McTeer is a former chancellor of Texas A&M and former president and chief operating officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. McTeer began his Forbes.com post by writing, “Some quotes are too good to ignore …” After we informed McTeer about the source of the quote, he sent us this response: “I notified Forbes.com, which is where you apparently saw it, and they are going to acknowledge the error on their site.” The blog now carries an editor’s note that says: “A quote in this post purportedly from Sen. Christopher Dodd turns out not to be true. Its actual source was a parody news article poking fun at the Senator.”

The source of the Dodd "quote" is John Semmens, who writes Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News for The Arizona Conservative Blog. He regularly comments on current affairs with made-up quotes and other fabricated narratives. He’s a Web version of humorists Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (though with a different political slant). In the same satirical blog post – which appeared May 15, 2010 – Semmens also made up these quotes that he attributed to Attorney General Eric Holder on why Holder hasn’t read Arizona’s new immigration law: “First, consider that the law comes out of Arizona, one of the most backward and racist states in the nation. Second, look at who sponsored the bill—right-wing Republicans. Do we really need to know anything more? Finally, the law is opposed by every decent American.” Do you get the joke? Unfortunately, some people out there don’t.

News satire is all in good fun until credible figures begin posting made-up quotes as real ones on their blogs or websites.

For the record, Dodd and the Democrats did oppose Corker’s amendment, S.A. 3955, which would have rewritten whole sections of the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. (The 5 percent requirement was but one small part of Corker’s proposal.) Dodd said one reason he opposed the measure is that it would have disadvantaged homebuyers with good credit and income, but without the cash to make a 5 percent down payment. But Corker’s amendment also would have stripped out a requirement that mortgage packagers keep a financial interest in the mortgage securities that they sell to others — an idea Dodd said was aimed at discouraging lenders from making loans to people who can’t repay them.

Dodd, May 11: So why am I putting skin in the game? Because if you do not have skin in the game, if you do not have a vested interest financially in the outcome, you do not care what happens, unfortunately, in too many cases. You have been paid. You have got out your dollar. You have been compensated as the broker; you have been compensated as the lending institution; you wash your hands of the whole thing.

Dodd’s May 11 floor statement, detailing his objections to Corker’s amendment, appears on pages S3517 through S3521of the Congressional Record. He repeated his "skin in the game" argument on May 12 at the time of the vote.

The Senate bill is now in conference with the House version.

— Joshua Goldman


Drawbaugh, Kevin. "US Senate GOP moves to kill Dem securitizers rule." Reuters. 11 May 2010.

ElBoghdady, Dina. "Senate, House financial overhaul targets lending practices of mortgage crisis." Washington Post. 27 May 2010.

McTeer, Robert. "Financial Reform: Ready, Fire, Aim." Business in the Beltway. Forbes.com. 6 Jun 2010.

Miller, Mike. "Chris Dodd doesn’t believe home ownership should be restricted only to those who can afford it." Liberty Maven. 6 Jun 2010.

Semmens, John. "Democrats Vote Down 5 Percent Rule."  The Arizona Conservative Blog. 15 May 2010.

Senate Session. C-SPAN Video Library. 12 May 2010, Accessed 8 Jun 2010.

U.S. Senate. "S. 3217, Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010." (as amended in the Senate 29 Apr 2010.)

U.S. Congressional Record. 11 May 2010: S3517 – S3521