(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
(cross-posted at DailyKos)
At a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, IA on Thursday, John McCain laid part of the blame for our economic crisis on SEC Chairman Christopher Cox and said that he would fire Cox if he was President. McCain said that Chairman Cox “in my view, has betrayed the public’s trust. If I were President today, I would fire him.”
McCain’s recent gaffes on the economy are creating an increasingly desperate situation for him to separate from the economic policies of the Bush administration and the Republican party. After a week that included McCain’s statement that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, Carly Fiorina’s statement that neither McCain or Sarah Palin were qualified to run Hewlett-Packard, and the bizarre claim from a McCain aide that he helped invent the Blackberry, the Maverick needed to change the subject. And change it fast.
It is certainly true that Cox is part of the Bush administration’s overall strategy of deregulation in financial markets. At the time of his nomination, he was being touted by Bush for his pro-business record:
Cox, 52, is an advocate of smaller government who led an effort in 1995 to make it more difficult for shareholders to sue when upset with a company’s performance. He also played a role in negotiating the 1996 telecommunications deregulation law and sought a moratorium on Internet taxes.
A former counsel in the White House under President Reagan, Cox also headed a capital-markets task force in three successive Congresses and led a fight to repeal a penalty tax on savings and investment, as well as to eliminate a double tax on dividends.
But what is McCain’s motivation in calling for Cox’ head on a platter? It’s far too late for McCain to take a meaningful stand against Wall Street deregulation. Yes, it would help if someone in the Bush administration was held responsible for their disastrous economic policies. But the timing of this statement from McCain seems far more politically motivated than fiscally motivated. McCain was a staunch supporter of legislation to deregulate the banking and insurance industries, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, but now is rapidly backtracking from it:
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.”
McCain needs to have it both ways. He needs street cred (Wall Street, that is) by supporting bills like Gramm-Leach-Bliley to keep the fiscal conservatives in line, but now needs to oppose it’s principles to be a maverick. He needs to support the Bush administration to keep the 28%-ers going to the polls, but calls for Cox’ firing to be a maverick. Watch out for whiplash, Senator. It’s getting hard to keep up with your positions. And more importantly, watch out for Cheney. If you start calling for Bushies to be fired, he may “disappear” you far more aggressively than you did with Carly Fiorina.