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Bond calls FHA "powder keg," but lauds Obama on anti-terror matters

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 2, 2009 - U.S. Senator Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., is on the war path this week -- on two fronts.

On Friday in Washington, Bond will launch the United States Institute of Peace new Congressional Newsmakers Series. According to his staff, Bond -- who is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- "will talk about the way forward in Afghanistan-Pakistan, including the President’s newly announced plan for the region."

Last week, Bond offered some praise of new President Barack Obama's approach. “For too long we have had a failing strategy in place,” said Bond in an address and subsequent statement. “President Obama appears to be taking the right steps for long-term success in this critical region.”

“The broad outline the President Obama is the right one, but the devil is in the details,” Bond added. “There are a number of specific steps that must be taken so we don’t just win the battle, but we win the war.”

Bond noted that he had sent a report to Obama, right after last fall's election, outlining Bond's concerns and views about Afghanistan and Pakistan. As his staff put it, Bond "has been sounding the alarm about our nation’s failed strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region for years."

Today in Washington, Bond also was sounding the alarm on a domestic matter -- the stability of the Federal Housing Administration. Bond spoke during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the role of FHA in dealing with the nation's housing foreclosure problems.

Bond -- the top Republican of the Senate Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee -- contended that "FHA is a powder keg that could explode, leaving taxpayers on the hook if Congress and the Administration continue to burden the government agency."

“Americans have a message for Congress and the Administration – the taxpayer credit card is maxed out,” said Bond. “The alarm is sounded – if Congress and the Administration place more risk on FHA before the problems are solved this powder keg could explode and taxpayers will be on the hook.”

Bond's staff said he asserted during Thursday's hearing that "despite long-standing management and oversight deficiencies documented by independent auditors, the government has pushed more responsibilities on the FHA to address the subprime housing crisis.  The government has also created a number of new programs that will drain resources and staff from crises like the FHA."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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