Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Don't You Forget About Me

This is freakin' brilliant!
Is There an Antidote to the Republican Amnesia?

Memory eventually fails us all, but apparently the decline strikes one party far more than the other.

In recent weeks, my friends across the aisle have expended a lot of breath proclaiming that the Democrats caused the present financial crisis by failing to pass legislation to regulate financial services companies in the years 1995 through 2006.

There is only small one problem with this story -- throughout this entire period the Republicans were in complete charge of the House and for the most critical years they controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.

Fortunately, we have tools to aid memory -- pencil and paper, word processing, transcripts, newspapers, and the Congressional record. And as described in the most reputable published sources, in 2005 I in fact worked together with my Republican colleague Michael Oxley, then Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, to write a bill to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We passed the bill out of committee with an overwhelming majority -- every Democrat voted in favor of the legislation. However, on the House floor the Republican leadership added a poison pill amendment, which would have prevented non-profit institutions with religious affiliations from receiving funds. I voted against the legislation in protest, though I continued to work with Mr. Oxley to encourage the Senate to pass a good bill. But these efforts were defeated because President Bush blocked further consideration of the legislation. In the words of Mr. Oxley, no flaming liberal, the Bush administration gave his efforts 'the one-finger salute.'

The Republicans can claim some supposed successes despite my awesome power. In 1999 they passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which overturned a Depression-era law preventing commercial banks from acting like investment banks. In 2000, they passed another bill which loosened regulation of derivative markets. I voted against these bills -- but to no avail.

Under Republican President George W. Bush, many federal agencies turned a blind eye to activities which would later precipitate the global financial meltdown. The Securities and Exchange Commission decided to allow the nation's largest financial institutions to "self-regulate;" the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan declined to use its power to regulate subprime mortgages; the Comptroller of the Currency decided to preempt state consumer laws on subprime mortgages.

Meanwhile, President Bush himself demanded that Fannie and Freddie increase the percentage of subprime loans they purchased, supposedly because of his belief in an "ownership society." Incidentally, increased lending to subprime borrowers would also fuel astronomical profits by the financial services industry. I publicly opposed giving mortgages to unqualified borrowers because I believed that some families are better off renting.

Yet somehow none of this was recorded in the Republican collective memory.
I urge you to read the whole thing.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak