How have they actually voted?
Published on September 21, 2008 By Larry Kuperman In Politics

My esteemed colleague, Island_Dog, recently posed the question as to what Senator Obama's actual accomplishments have been. I have posted a reply on that, but let me take things one step further. I am going to offer that, regardless if you are Conservative of Liberal, if you actually compare the records of the two men, especially in light of the current crisis facing America, not only is Barack Obama the logical choice, John McCain is positively a scary alternative.

Here is Senator McCain's voting record: http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=53270

Here is Senator Obama's record: http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=9490

John McCain has been a consistent supporter of deregulation of the financial services industry. Well, that was until his SECOND speech in Florida this week, when he executed an abrupt U-turn, now stating:

"Government has a clear responsibility to act in defense of the public interest, and that's exactly what I intend to do," said McCain said at a rally in Tampa. "In my administration, we're going to hold people on Wall Street responsible. And we're going to enact and enforce reforms to make sure that these outrages never happen in the first place."

But that is the exact opposite of what his voting record indicates. See the Washington Post article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/16/AR2008091603732.html?hpid=topnews

The entire article can be read by clicking on the link (I don't want to be accused of "cherry picking again) but citing what I believe to be a representative quote:

"In 2002, McCain introduced a bill to deregulate the broadband Internet market, warning that "the potential for government interference with market forces is not limited to federal regulation." Three years earlier, 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 Depression-era walls between banking, investment and insurance companies.

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."

(NOTE: Phil Gramm is actually no longer a chief adviser to the McCain campaign. He resigned in July 2008 after saying that America was only in a “mental recession” and that we had become a “nation of whiners.”)

Basically, John McCain's NEW positon might be descibed as locking the barn door after you have helped the rustlers steal the livestock.

But let explain why I say that even Conservatives have to be swayed by McCain's actions this week. I don't mean just the flip-flop in his remarks about how healthy the American economy is as we face a potential world-wide economic disaster. What did McCain recommend doing? He wants to fire Chris Cox, Chairman of the SEC. See http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/18/markets/bc.mccain.ap/index.htm.

If you don't anything about Christopher Cox, it is certainly worth looking him up. He was appointed to the SEC in 2005 by President Bush. He was formerly a member of the Reagan Administration, where he served as Senior Associate Counsel to the President.

I'll provide the link to his Wikipedia biography below, but let me offer this highlighy:

"Among Cox's notable legislative successes is the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a 1998 law prohibiting federal, state, and local government taxation of Internet access and banning Internet-only levies such as email taxes, bit taxes, and bandwidth taxes. With U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) as his chief co-sponsor, Cox authored legislation in 1997 to privatize the National Helium Reserve, which was then $1.4 billion in debt to taxpayers. As of 2004, this was the third-largest privatization in U.S. history, surpassing the value of the 1988 Conrail privatization. Cox also wrote the only law that was enacted over President Bill Clinton's veto, the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, aimed at protecting investors from fraudulent and extortionate lawsuits."

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Cox

Let's be clear about this. McCain's response to this disaster is to try to fire a CONSERVATIVE who wrote a law protecting investors.

That is nothing short of insane.

Assuming that the $700 billion bailout of the financial services industry will be passed this week, as seems most likely, either candidate will be seriously handicapped in implementing their plans. McCain will probably not be able to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and Obama will have a difficult time in getting health-care reform or job programs passed. (Which is a pity, because health-care reform is something that our ailing auto industry badly needs, which is why GM, Ford and Chrysler corporations support the National Institute for Health Care Reform.)

Removing the now-distant possibility of tax breaks from the equation, why would anyone vote for McCain? On Tuesday he had an epiphany that maybe his anti-regulation voting record was decade long error in judgement and that his best action would be to......fire a leading Conservative. Why would anyone trust the man that helped make the mess to clean up the mess?


Comments (Page 1)
on Sep 21, 2008

I still fail to see how Obama is a "logical" choice when actually people like him are what caused the problem. 

 

on Sep 21, 2008

He's logical if you're a deaf mute unable to read or comprehend.

on Sep 21, 2008

Reality check:

John McCain, 2005:

Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.

The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator’s examination of the company’s accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. 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.

I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.

That's over 3 years ago.

So what happened? Joe Biden helped lead the effort to shoot down the GSE reform legislation.

 

on Sep 21, 2008

So what happened? Joe Biden helped lead the effort to shoot down the GSE reform legislation.

No what happened is it died in committee during the period when the republicans had control of both congress and the committee chair. Unfortunately it was too late anyhow because the problem was inevitable by that point. To make matters worse now that the GSA's are under the control of government they are now being allowed to buy up more of the bad mbs' that are the root of the problem.

on Sep 21, 2008

I guess that means McCain saw it coming, oh wait, I don't know how Gov. works.

on Sep 21, 2008

I guess that means McCain saw it coming, oh wait, I don't know how Gov. works.

They all saw it coming. It is something that needed to be changed as early as 2002. By 2004 the outcome which you are seeing today was irreversible. If the proposed bill was passed what is happening today would have occurred a year or two ago. It is no coincidence that this all unfolded right after the govt took control of the GSA's.   Once they could no longer buy the junk mbs's the credit market came to a grinding halt. So now as of Friday they are allowed to buy the junk again. Dont be fooled.There is no way this can be solved like the S&L crisis was with the RTC. The illiquid mbs's that are associated with arm's are junk not simply risky.

on Sep 21, 2008

I don't if you saw the McCain/Obama interviews on 60 Minutes tonight. John McCain was asked if he knew that you can't fire the head of the SEC, Christopher Cox. He replied that "When I become President, if I want someone to resign, they will!" And laws be damned....

Brad, in December of 2007, McCain gave an interview to the Keene (NH) Sentinal responding to the question of whether he foresaw the debacle and was acting to avert it:

McCain: “I don’t know the dimensions of this.  It’s hard to know what the dimensions are.  As I say, I never thought I’d pick up the paper and see a city in Norway is somehow dramatically impacted by it.  When I say ‘surprised’ I’m not surprised when in capitalist systems that there’s greed and excess. I think it was Teddy Roosevelt who said ‘unfettered capitalism leads to corruption’ or something like that, that people have disputed for years. 

“But so, in this whole new derivative stuff, and SIBs and all of this kind of new ways of packaging mortgages together and all that is something that frankly I don’t know a lot about.

"But I do rely on a lot of smart people that I have that are both in my employ and acquaintances of mine.  And most of them did not anticipate this.  Most of them, I mean I can find some that did.  But, a guy that’s on my staff named Doug Holtz-Eakin, who was once the head of the Office of Management and Budget, said that there was nervousness out there.  There’s nervousness.  There was nervousness that we had such a long period of prosperity without a downturn because of the history of our economy.  But I don’t know of hardly anybody, with the exception of a handful, that said ‘wait a minute, this thing is getting completely out of hand and is overheating.'

"So, I’d like to tell you that I did anticipate it, but I have to give you straight talk, I did not.” 

Source: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/despite-claims.html

I know that Wikipedia is sometimes suspect as a source, but each of these quotes can be verified elsewhere:

In 1999, McCain voted for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which passed in the Senate by a vote of 54-44. The deregulation bill loosened restrictions on the activities of banks, brokerage houses, and insurance companies. In 2002 he voted for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which passed the Senate without opposition. In 2007, however, McCain stated that he regretted his vote in favor of Sarbanes-Oxley, which strengthened financial reporting requirements for publicly held companies but which has been the subject of complaints from businesses.

In 2008, McCain expressed approval of the results of financial deregulation by pointing to it as a model for health care policy, writing: "Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_John_McCain

The last part of McCain's interview with the Wall Street Journal is the one that is most often quoted, but I'll offer the full body of the quote:

“I’m always for less regulation, but I am aware of the view that there is a need for government oversight” referring to matters such as the subprime lending crisis. “But I am fundamentally a deregulator.”

Source: http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/09/obama-attacks-1.html

on Sep 22, 2008

YOur basic premise is flawed.  Your premise is that the lack of government regulations is the cause of the problem, when the reality is that the over intrusiveness of government regulations is the cause of the problems.  It is basic, and it is the achilee's heel of your arguement.  Obama would exacerbate the problem, Mccain , well, while not pouring water onto the fire, at least he would not pour gasoline.

Left to their own, the companies would not have gotten into the mess if congress had not tried to create "good intentions".  Obama would govern by "good intentions" (Check out his admission on taxes and his then continued insistance of being "fair").

I will say you have given me a reason to vote for McCain.  I am still not sold, but then being an economist, I see the dangers you so correctly pointed out about an OBAMA presidency.  America can survive most things, but good intentions are usually fatal.

on Sep 22, 2008

Obama is the logical choice - if you support Socialism.

on Sep 22, 2008

I don't if you saw the McCain/Obama interviews on 60 Minutes tonight. John McCain was asked if he knew that you can't fire the head of the SEC, Christopher Cox. He replied that "When I become President, if I want someone to resign, they will!" And laws be damned....

Wow Laryy. I find it hard to believe (or do I?) that you actually made this mistake here.

fire - displace: terminate the employment of; discharge from an office or position; link

resign - vacate: leave (a job, post, or position) voluntarily link

From what I can see thy do not mean the same so McCain would not be breaking any laws as you claim.

on Sep 22, 2008

America can survive most things, but good intentions are usually fatal.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Obama would govern by "good intentions" (Check out his admission on taxes and his then continued insistance of being "fair").

I am all for fairness, but to me fairness is not if you have more you should give more or if you have less you should keep more. I don't like the idea that I am not part of constuction of this country when every time I fill out my taxes I get money back. That means I did not actaully contribute and therefore am not able to claim that thanks to me anything being paid with taxpayers money is in part because of my contribution. I don't feel part of this country because of this. That is not patriotic to me. BTW, I only figured this out this tax season, I am not much on how the Gov't works so I never figured I was never paying taxes at all. Now I know better.

on Sep 22, 2008

Your premise is that the lack of government regulations is the cause of the problem, when the reality is that the over intrusiveness of government regulations is the cause of the problems.

The cause of the problem was lack of transparency and oversight. Corporations were gaining access to credit by overstating the value of certain asset classes. Take a look at AIG. The insurance part of the business is sound however they failed because they leveraged the risk of the insurance part of their business with assets that were overvalued. The mbs's at the root of the current situation aren't even directly tied to morgages they are tied to their revenus streams and when you look at how they work you realize that they are practically guaranteed to lose both value and revenue over time.

To make matters worse many of  the very same people who cooked up this scheme have taken their millions and hedged the economy into further ruin thru the commodoties market and shorting.

on Sep 22, 2008

Charles, it became clear during the week that John McCain did not know that the President cannot fire the head of the SEC, we have laws guaranteeing the independence of that office. McCain then backpedaled saying that he could make anybody resign that he wanted to. The Supreme Court, in a decision rendered June 14th, 2004, ruled that forcing a resignation is what is called an "Adverse Employment Action" and would constitute a Wrongful Termination.

Basically, it would be against the law.

Corporations are only transparent when they are forced to be transparent, by either stockholders, government or both. Otherwise they operate exclusively to further the interests of the people that run those companies.

The government got screwed, we taxpayers got screwed, the rank and file employees (soon to be former employees) got screwed, the mortgage holders got screwed, all because some people said that we had to get government out of the way of business. WRONG! Government should be looking over their shoulders, forcing them to comply with regulations and to pay taxes.

 

on Sep 22, 2008

I am all for fairness, but to me fairness

Not in governance.  There is a reason that the founding fathers never mentioned fair.  It is subjective.  And therefore irresponsible.

The cause of the problem was lack of transparency and oversight.

No, the government say exactly what was happening.  Dont believe me?  read the notes from Barney Frank's committee meetings.  It will shock you (if you can be).  But in an effor to make them "fair" government screwed the pooch,

on Sep 22, 2008

Charles, it became clear during the week that John McCain did not know that the President cannot fire the head of the SEC, we have laws guaranteeing the independence of that office. McCain then backpedaled saying that he could make anybody resign that he wanted to.

A faux pas no doubt.  A naive statement by you none the less.  At least you now have ONE against Mccain.  So the score is 100 to 1.  And climbing!

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