The New York Times reports this morning: “He is not a mortgage broker. But for a time on Thursday, President Obama seemed to be playing one on television, urging Americans not to miss out on rock-bottom refinancing rates. … Seldom has the president sounded so much like the host of a late-night infomercial, stopping just shy of imploring people to call the toll-free number at the bottom of their television screens.” We don’t get to say this very often, but the New York Times is dead right. Here are some actual quotes from the President of the United States speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House yesterday:

[I]f you are having problems with your mortgage, and even if you’re not and you just want to save some money, you can go to — — and the way the web site is designed, you can plug in your information and immediately find out whether or not you are potentially eligible for one of these — one of these mortgage refinancings.

Again, the web site is — is that right? — so get on the web site, find out what’s available.

So take advantage of and that will allow you to figure out exactly how to proceed on this in a way that’s making you money, saving you money, as opposed to costing you money.

As Dana Milbank quipped: “I just lost another loan to Obama!

Yesterday’s taxpayer-funded infomercial came just 10 days after President Obama played car salesman in the Grand Foyer of the White House and five weeks after he played stockbroker in the Oval Office. How did this happen? Why is the chief executive officer of the most powerful country in the world acting like a towel salesman?

Because he has to. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are owned by the federal government. Three-quarters of the American people get their mortgages through a Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac qualified loan. Last year Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae lost over $100 billion combined. The federal government already loaned General Motors and Chrysler at least $17 billion and that total keeps going up. In 2008 GM lost $31 billion and Chrysler lost $8 billion. Banks lost hundreds of billions of dollars last year and now the federal government owns major stakes in some of them, like the 36% stake the Obama administration purchased in Citibank.

There is a pattern here. The federal government refuses to let market participants fail, the federal government bails them out, and then the federal government, including the President of the United States, is forced to act as a company CEO/salesman instead of faithfully executing the laws of the United States. If we ever hope to get our economy growing again, the federal government must stop picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

Quick Hits:

UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that the real Sham Wow Guy, Vince Offer, was recently arrested on a felony battery charge. Since only meant to criticize the President for acting as an infomercial pitchman, and never intended to compare him to an accused felon, we have stolen a line from Dana Milbank’s column and changed the headline.