Wednesday, September 17, 2008

John McCain's Latest Chameleon Act: Suddenly He's a Champion of De... Oops... Regulation

If there's been one consistent theme in John McCain's campaign this year, it would have to be its inconsistency. He has shown not only a willingness, but an eagerness, to completely change his entire message on a moment's notice based on polling or what he thinks he needs to do to compete.

He made a big deal about "honor" and "clean campaigning", then tossed it all aside by hiring the same Rove hitmen who went after him in 2000, to go after Obama.

He spent months mocking Obama's change message, then one day we all woke up to find McCain saying he represented change.

He spent months trying to knock Obama's lack of experience and saying how critical that is because of foreign policy issues, then picked a clueless rookie for his VP, whose sum total of foreign policy experience appears to be "You can actually SEE Russia from Alaska! Hee hee!"

Bill Clinton was criticized for changing positions based on polls, but he's got nothing on McCain. His latest chameleon act? After spending years fighting for deregulation in Washington, now we're supposed to believe he's the guy who's going to "clean up Wall Street" -- a mess that McCain and his close policy advisors helped create. This morning's Washington Post tackles this issue head-on; some excerpts:

A decade ago, Sen. John McCain embraced legislation to broadly deregulate the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace that proponents said would result in greater economic growth.

Now, as the Bush administration scrambles to prevent the collapse of the American International Group (AIG), the nation's largest insurance company, and stabilize a tumultuous Wall Street, the Republican presidential nominee is scrambling to recast himself as a champion of regulation to end "reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed" on Wall Street.


In 2002, McCain introduced a bill to deregulate the broadband Internet market, warning that "the potential for government interference with market forces is not limited to federal regulation." Three years earlier, McCain had joined with other Republicans to push through landmark legislation sponsored by then-Sen. Phil Gramm (Tex.), who is now an economic adviser to his campaign. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act aimed to make the country's financial institutions competitive by removing the Depression-era walls between banking, investment and insurance companies.

That bill allowed AIG to participate in the gold rush of a rapidly expanding global banking and investment market. But the legislation also helped pave the way for companies such as AIG and Lehman Brothers to become behemoths laden with bad loans and investments.

McCain now condemns the executives at those companies for pursuing the ambitions that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act made possible, saying that "in an endless quest for easy money, they dreamed up investment schemes that they themselves don't even understand."


Yesterday, Obama seized on what he called McCain's "newfound support for regulation" and accused his rival of backing "a broken system in Washington that is breaking the American economy."

In a speech in Golden, Colo., Obama blamed the economic crisis on an "economic philosophy" that he said McCain and President Bush supported blindly.

"John McCain has spent decades in Washington supporting financial institutions instead of their customers," he told a crowd of about 2,100 at the Colorado School of Mines. "So let's be clear: What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed."


As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee for more than a decade, McCain did not have direct oversight of the financial sector. But he sat at the center of arguments between telephone, cable and satellite companies, almost always pressing for more competition.

"I'm always for less regulation," he told the Wall Street Journal in March. He added: "I'd like to see a lot of the unnecessary government regulations eliminated."

I'm not buying this bull -- are you? I don't think many others will either, except for maybe McCain's "base" -- so-called "low information voters" who will swallow any swill he spits at them. But they're pretty hopeless anyway.


BaseballCoach said...

Why no mention of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, cosponsored by John McCain?

You know -- the one that would have done the following:

1) in lieu of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an independent Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Agency which shall have authority over the Federal Home Loan Bank Finance Corporation, the Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac); and (2) the Federal Housing Enterprise Board.

Sets forth operating, administrative, and regulatory provisions of the Agency, including provisions respecting: (1) assessment authority; (2) authority to limit nonmission-related assets; (3) minimum and critical capital levels; (4) risk-based capital test; (5) capital classifications and undercapitalized enterprises; (6) enforcement actions and penalties; (7) golden parachutes; and (8) reporting.

You know -- the one where John McCain spoke on the floor of the Seante, saying:

If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

You know, the one that was killed by Democrats and never became law.

What's that? Ahh, you don't know.

Here's another little tidbit you forgot to include:

Barack Obama has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in Fannie and Freddie political contributions. In less than 4 years in the Senate, Obama has vaulted to the Number 2 position in terms of alltime political contributions from Fannie and Freddie. Only Chris Dodd (D) has taken more money from these institutions.

Change we can believe in? Not.

Charles M. Kozierok said...

"Why no mention of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, cosponsored by John McCain?"

Because so far I haven't found any sort of balanced discussion of it, just Sean Hannity style propaganda as you posted.

"You know, the one that was killed by Democrats and never became law."

Excuse me? The Republicans were firmly in charge of the Senate in the 109th Congress.

"What's that? Ahh, you don't know."

I don't know how you can claim the Democrats "killed" anything when the Republicans were in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House, no.

This is what is really responsible for the current mess.

You know, Phil Gramm - the guy McCain wants to make Secretary of the Treasury.

BaseballCoach said...

The bill was killed in the Senate Banking Committee -- it never made it to the floor on the "republican controlled" Senate. And who is the head of the Senate Banking Committee? That's right, Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

Also the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act did not cause the sub prime meltdown. It may have been one of many factors, but wasn't the primary factor.

Perhaps the biggest factor was the Clinton administration's revisions to the Community Reinvestment Act, which substantially increased the number of the number and percentage of loans to low and moderate income borrowers. The revisions also allowed the securitization of loans containing subprime mortgages. And who was the first company to securitize CRA sub prime loans? None other than Bear Stears, which was recently bailed out by the Feds.

If you're going to throw out accusations such as "Graham-Leach-Bliley was responsible for the current mess," at least have the courage to tell us why. Or are you getting your talking points from someone else?