Those Republicans who dared to vote, this time, against the demands of the Wall Street power brokers were derided by New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks as the "Revolt of the Nihilists." While suddenly embracing President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as the positive alternative to nihilist behavior, Brooks ignored Roosevelt's main achievement, which was to put the public interest before that of the Wall Street titans.
Wasn't it nihilistic when Congress, led by Republicans but supported by key Democrats, including then-President Bill Clinton, shredded the protections put into place by Roosevelt to control an ever-avaricious banking industry?
Anyone who has bothered to study that history knows that Sen.
John McCain was deeply involved in the push for rampant deregulation, and his choice of former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, the principle author of the decisive deregulation legislation, to co-chair the McCain presidential campaign mocks McCain's attempt to blame the crisis on everyone but himself.
The Democrats, however, also are culpable, and it was sickening to watch Clinton on "The Daily Show" getting away with blaming a crisis he helped create on overexcited home purchasers. I don't blame "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart for not knowing enough about the subject to challenge Clinton on his own fervent support of deregulation, but it is disappointing that Paul Krugman, one of the nation's sharpest commentators and an economist, should also miss that point.
Indeed, in his column for The New York Times castigating McCain for his connection to Gramm, Krugman said voters should be reassured that Barack Obama has Clinton's Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin to turn to for advice on how to handle this mess.
Rubin, the former head of Goldman Sachs, worked as hard as Gramm to pass the legislation his Wall Street buddies wanted. Rubin then returned to Wall Street as a honcho at Citigroup, the first company to successfully exploit the new legislation's nefarious loopholes. As for his perspicuity, it was as recently as January of this year that Rubin termed the financial meltdown a normal phase of the business cycle.
Back in the spring, two months after Rubin's "what me worry?" silliness on the economy, Obama gave a brilliant speech on Wall Street's problems at the same venue, Manhattan's Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, in which he singled out the legislation that Rubin had gotten Clinton to sign as central to the problem.
Obama should stick with the wisdom of a community organizer from the tough side of Chicago: Fight the bankers who swindle unsuspecting homeowners, and restore the bailout provision that Democratic leaders had proposed but then abandoned -- stop the home foreclosures by empowering bankruptcy court judges to force a renegotiation of terms.
Any bailout worthy of support should put the endangered homeowner first, not the bankers who swindled them.
© Creators Syndicate
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