Warren accuses Bloomberg of lying over 'redlining' housing practice

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Thursday called fellow 2020 Democratic contender Michael Bloomberg a liar over his comments about a controversial banking practice known as "redlining."

The Associated Press broke a story Wednesday about comments the former New York City mayor made in 2008 at a forum hosted by Georgetown University. He said the end of the practice, in which banks would refuse to give out mortgages to people in poor – usually minority – areas, was a contributing factor to the 2008 housing crisis because "banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like."

Warren responded to the comments in a thread of tweets Thursday.

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"I'm surprised that someone running for the Democratic nomination thinks the economy would be better off if we just let banks be more overtly racist," she said. "We need to confront the shameful legacy of discrimination, not lie about it like Mike Bloomberg has done."

She continued: "The end of redlining didn't cause the 2008 crash. Out-of-control greed by Wall Street and big banks, and the corruption that lets them control our government, caused the crash. Predatory lenders steered families of color into the worst loans and those families lost billions."

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Other liberals have gone after Bloomberg over the issue: Progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeted a Twitter post from a user going after the former mayor by calling redlining a racist policy.

Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said that the candidate “attacked predatory lending” as mayor and, if elected president, has a plan to “help a million more Black families buy a house, and counteract the effects of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis.”

The campaign also pointed to efforts by Bloomberg’s private philanthropy to help other cities craft policies that will help reduce evictions. After the Associated Press published its original story on Bloomberg's redlining comments, Loeser added: “He’s saying that something bad - the financial crisis - followed something good, which is the fight against redlining that he was part of as Mayor.”

Bloomberg's redlining comments were made public after he was forced to apologize this week for supporting a "stop-and-frisk" policy while mayor. Resurfaced comments from the candidate show he was defending the policy as recently as 2015.

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While bashing Bloomberg, Warren took the opportunity to flaunt one of her signature accomplishments -- working to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

"We need to take concrete steps to address the impact of redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis," she said. "I built an office at the @CFPB to fight lending discrimination and my housing plan helps families in formerly redlined areas to buy homes and build wealth."

With Super Tuesday drawing near, many Democratic candidates like Warren have taken shots at Bloomberg as he uses his personal fortune to flood the airwaves in the 14 states that will vote in the Democratic presidential primary March 3.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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