Even if you don't blame McCain, per se, for the Wall Street meltdown this weekend, there is no getting around the fact that the Republican Party mania against the federal regulatory agenda protecting consumers and workers has been part of the McCain gestalt from the time he was first elected to Congress. But Obama hit the nail on the head when he said it's more the fault of the Republican Party philosophy, than the man who admits he doesn't know squat about the economy and who surrounds himself with the worst set of predators running GOP economic policy since the late 1920s.
I certainly don't fault Senator McCain for these problems, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It's a philosophy we've had for the last eight years -- one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It's a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise, and one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises.
Across the country savvy Democratic challengers to Republican rubber stamps of the Bush Economic Miracle have been explaining to voters the connection between GOP "philosophy" --and policy, and the economic woes and financial meltdown that are engulfing us all. In Nebraska, Scott Klebb is running against an anti-regulatory hack from Bush's cabinet, Mike Johanns. He was quick to explain why his campaign had put together a stomach churning video: "On a day where lax accountability and reckless oversight in Washington are in the forefront of the nation's mind, this 30 second video summarizing four years of broken government encapsulates the need for change in Washington."
Maine Congressman Tom Allen is running for a Senate seat held by one of Bush's most dependable allies on economic issues, Susan Collins, often opposing not just the Maine Democrats in the House, but even the Maine Republican, Olympia Snowe, in the Senate. According to the Portland Press Herald "Senator Olympia Snowe was right when she called these Bush tax breaks for the superwealthy 'cynical' and the 'wrong message for middle class America.'" The whole Maine delegation opposed them-- except Collins, who, as usual, stuck with Bush and the Republican dedication to wreck the federal regulatory system, the results we now see getting a stranglehold on the American economy, an economy in shambles, regardless of how many McCain shills call the American people whiners and exaggerators and no matter how many times McCain insists that the economy is sound and that we're better off under Bush's stewardship of the economy.
As the Dow dropped over 500 points, no doubt on what McCain insists are "strong fundamentals," I heard from several congressional candidates, particularly from candidates running against Republicans directly complicit in the Wall Street meltdown, like New Jersey's far right ideologue Scott Garrett, a member of the House Financial Services Committee. His Democratic opponent, Dennis Shulman, the can-do, blind rabbi lionized in yesterday's NY Times has some very pointed questions for Garrett who, it rightly asserts, helped bring about the subprime mortgage crisis by championing the specific legislative agenda of Countrywide Financial, the arch villain in this catastrophe.
"Countrywide Financial is widely recognized as having been the company at the forefront of these shady practices, practices that are bringing down generations-old investment banks and threatening to further derail the economy. Why did Scott Garrett vote consistently in favor of Countrywide Financial's desired positions, why did he put their former lobbyist on the taxpayers' payroll as his chief of staff, and will Garrett take responsibility for the disaster that occurred under his watch?" Shulman for Congress calls upon Scott Garrett to answer three questions:
• What were the terms of the mortgage you refinanced with Countrywide Financial in May 2003, during the time in which your current Chief of Staff lobbied for Countrywide and when Countrywide was giving congressmen with oversight responsibilities sweetheart deals?
• Why did you vote against anti-predatory lending bills and defend those pro-Countrywide Financial votes this spring by observing, "Just a year ago we were talking about how great it was (that) the highest percentage of Americans ever were in their homes?"
• Will you acknowledge that Dennis Shulman is right to vow to not take any money from industries his committees regulate, given how your votes in favor of Countrywide Financial have led to a national disaster?
Another extreme right ideologue on the Financial Services Committee is Republican Patrick McHenry. Yesterday we did a profile on McHenry's opponent, Democrat Daniel Johnson. Our research turned up an Op-ed McHenry penned for the Charlotte Observer on October 27, 2005. (Keep in mind that McHenry's biggest campaign "donors" are from three industries with one anti-regulatory agenda: Real Estate, Insurance and Commercial Banks.) McHenry's Op-ed was in response to a series of stories that didn't reflect well on his buddies at Countrywide and other predatory subprime mortgage lenders. In his effusive praise for the subprime mortgage industry, McHenry argues against what he and most Republicans call "burdensome regulations," but what normal Americans call society's way of protecting consumers from powerful unscrupulous operators.
Tom Perriello is in a knock down drag out fight with one of the Abramoff-connected operators in the House, Virgil Goode (R-VA). Tom's clear and powerful statement yesterday is how Democrats should speak with their voters about the economic crisis:
The failed economic policies of the Bush-Goode years rear their ugly head yet again. This is another financial crisis that Virginia's middle class families cannot afford. We have rising unemployment rates, an exploding national debt, a housing crisis, and yet, all we see from the gang in Washington is more of the same failed policies, which Congressman Goode has rubber-stamped during his time in Congress. The Good Book says we shall be known by our fruits. Well, Southside has lost over 10,000 jobs on Congressman Goode's watch. It's not surprising that when you take $1.5 million in campaign contributions from the special interests, you protect giant corporations again and again while middle class families pay the price. We need new leaders who will work a double shift for economic revival, which I've pledged will be my number one priority in Congress.
Follow Howie Klein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/downwithtyranny