Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is The Any Bandwagon That Fine Gael Will Not Jump On?

I listened to Leo Varadkar, Fine Gael’s Enterprise Trade and Employment spokesman, speaking on RTE’s Drivetime radio programme this evening (21 April 2009) and was hardly surprised that he and his party have jumped on a new bandwagon: bailing out people who chose to fix their mortgage rates to protect themselves against rising interest rates. There seems to be no bandwagon, whether it is Eircom shareholders, taxi drivers or people who gambled on interest rates, that Fine Gael will not clamber on as soon as it appears.

People who took out fixed rate mortgages took a gamble that interest rates would rise and they didn’t; they fell. That’s the risk they took when they made their decision and it should not be up to the Government, through the taxpayers, to now support them because their gamble did not come in. This sort of Fine Gael nonsense demonstrates clearly why they are not fit for office, which is a great pity as we really need a credible alternative to Fianna Fail. Sadly, Fine Gael does not offer that alternative.

On the programme, Varadkar was asked if he knew the numbers of people involved but, of course, he didn’t. Nevertheless he said it was higher than he thought (how did he know?) and maybe about a third of people were on fixed rate mortgages (how does he know?). This lack of analysis is so typical of Fine Gael’s and Varadkar’s blathering.

Varadkar wants the Minister to legislate for a capping of exit fees but at this stage, Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, has declined to act in such a foolhardy way. “It’s about time taxpayers got something back and let’s start with this”, said Varadkar. Sorry Leo, let’s get this straight: what you are really saying is that it’s about time a third of mortgage holders (based on your estimate) get a special break, but not the other two thirds and not those taxpayers who do not have a mortgage but who may have paid massive interest rates in the past. Everyone is suffering pay cuts, new taxes and levies too, you know. Financial decisions entail risk and, in their cases, people who opted for fixed rate mortgages must have realised that there was a risk that interest rates would fall. And, of course, they will go up again in the not too distant future.

So here’s a question for you, Leo: how high would interest rates have to go before you would then be calling for those on variable rate mortgages to be bailed out? Your proposition is preposterous but it is in keeping with a long succession of Fine Gael nonsense and special pleading.

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