Of course, as we know, much of the current crisis was enabled by the massive deregulation McCain supported in the late 1990s when it was initially sponsored by then-Sen. Phil Gramm, who is now an economic adviser to his campaign.
But McCain has flip-flopped and is changing his tune on regulation and government involvement. From Michael D. Shear’s article in today’s Washington Post:
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.A little background, from the same article:
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. "Government has a clear responsibility to act in defense of the public interest, and that's exactly what I intend to do," a fiery McCain said at a rally in Tampa yesterday.
[In 1999,] 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 walls between banking, investment and insurance companies.As Shear puts it, “McCain now condemns the executives at those companies for pursuing the ambitions that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act made possible.”
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.
Yesterday, Barack Obama gave a detailed speech that not only criticized McCain on this issue, but offered his vision for solutions to this mess. He also launched a new plain-spoken ad that points to his detailed plan to fix it. Funny, everyone says Obama just gives nice speeches about hope but never offers specifics. And yet here he is saying “please go to my website and read my plan.”
Meanwhile, McCain suggested we should form a commission to study the problem, “like the 9/11 Commission.” What? This sounds like holding a meeting to decide when the next meeting should be. While our major financial institutions are failing, McCain has no clue what to do so he wants to form a commission to maybe try to figure something out and then hopefully implement something or other. Obama’s already studied it and he HAS a plan. But John McCain would rather win an election than fix the economy (that he continues to declare is fundamentally strong).
So McCain threw up (pun intended) his own TV spot that promises to "reform Wall Street" and pass "new rules for fairness and honesty." In the ad, he also says, "I won't tolerate a system that puts you and your family at risk. Your savings, your jobs . . . I'll keep them safe." Don’t worry, Uncle John will keep you safe. Soon as he wastes a few months appointing a commission and that commission spends a few months studying some stuff and making some recommendations that might get implemented a few months after that.
Of course it wouldn’t be a McCain ad without some lying: McCain says, "My opponent's only solutions are talk and taxes.” Really? As this whole post and the links within it prove, Obama does have a plan and McCain’s the one who only offers “talk.” And every independent, non-partisan study actually says that Obama will provide more tax relief for the “bottom” 95% of Americans than McCain.
Again, everyone assumes that John McCain is some known, proven leader with a plan and that Barack Obama is just an empty suit who “never offers specifics.” But he does. As for McCain? His senior policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, told reporters that there was no need for McCain to be specific right now: "I don't think it's imperative at this moment to write down what the plan should be," he said. "The real issue here is a leadership issue.''
Well, I agree we need real leadership. But I doubt we’ll get it from John McCain. All he’s offered is a bunch of double-talk. "I'm always for less regulation," he told the Wall Street Journal just 6 months ago. He added: "I'd like to see a lot of the unnecessary government regulations eliminated."
But NOW, after the deregulation that McCain himself championed has bankrupted our economy, he says “Government has a clear responsibility to act” while he offers vague soundbites about how he will “reform Wall Street” and “keep us safe,” when in fact his only suggestion is to form a commission to study the problem that Obama already has a plan to fix.
The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson got off a good one about McCain: "He's shocked and outraged that Wall Street's preening Masters of the Universe threw a drunken toga party and smashed all the furniture -- but he helped buy the beer and told the cops to look the other way."