WaPo editors: Obama being deceptive on McCain’s regulatory record

posted at 11:20 am on September 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama’s assault on John McCain over his record on financial regulation draws the ire of the Washington Post editorial board.  Calling Obama “deceptive”, they note that while McCain has opposed federal regulation as a rule, he has fought for tougher oversight on the very functions that failed in the credit-sector meltdown.  They also note that Obama has been invisible on this issue until this week:

TO LISTEN to Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain is a Johnny-come-lately to the cause of regulating financial markets. “He has consistently opposed the sorts of common-sense regulations that might have lessened the current crisis,” Mr. Obama said in New Mexico yesterday. “When I was warning about the danger ahead on Wall Street months ago because of the lack of oversight, Senator McCain was telling the Wall Street Journal — and I quote — ‘I’m always for less regulation.’ ”

But the full quotation from Mr. McCain’s March interview with the Journal’s editorial board belies Mr. Obama’s one-sided rendition. The Republican candidate went on to say, “But I am aware of the view that there is a need for government oversight. I think we found this in the subprime lending crisis — that there are people that game the system and if not outright broke the law, they certainly engaged in unethical conduct which made this problem worse. So I do believe that there is role for oversight.” …

In 2006, he pushed for stronger regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — while Mr. Obama was notably silent. “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,” Mr. McCain warned at the time.

The editors also point out a massive hypocrisy on the part of Obama when pushing this line of attack:

One element of the Obama campaign’s brief against Mr. McCain is that he supported repeal of the law separating commercial banks from investment banks. “He’s spent decades in Washington supporting financial institutions instead of their customers,” Mr. Obama said yesterday. “Phil Gramm, one of the architects of the deregulation in Washington that led directly to this mess on Wall Street, is also the architect of John McCain’s economic plan.” Would it be churlish to point out that another author of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law is former congressman Jim Leach, a founder of Republicans for Obama? Or that Obama advisers Lawrence H. Summers and Robert E. Rubin supported the repeal — which was signed by President Bill Clinton?

Obama can keep talking about Phil Gramm all day long. McCain can point to Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines as Obama advisers. Obama will lose that conversation every time.


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