Tuesday, September 4, 2012

President Clinton’s Obama Ad

Democrats are running some TV ad with President Clinton advocating for President Obama’s re-election, and it’s pretty funny to me. In the one I saw, Bill Clinton says we shouldn’t go back to the same failed policies of deregulation that caused the financial crash. That’s a good point. Most economists agree that the causes of the Wall St. meltdown and worldwide financial crash were the repeal of Glass–Steagall (Section 20 and 32 were repealed, and Section 16 was amended in the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act), and the “too big to fail” banking conglomerates and risky derivatives trading that resulted from it. I wonder who signed that deregulatory piece of crap into law? It must have been some evil Republican. Oh, no, wait; I remember now: it was President Bill Clinton who did it, in 1999. He even wrote a special signing statement saying how much it would help our economy and lead to greater prosperity. And this makes him look just a little bit hypocritical when he points fingers about deregulation, because he’s every bit as responsible for the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act’s provisions, which protected America’s economy for three-quarters of a century, as the Republicans who wrote it.

But President Clinton could have made this ad seem less hypocritical if he had taken responsibility for his part in this mess, and said: “I know about the problems deregulation can cause, because I was talked into signing into law the repeal of Glass–Steagall, which played a large part in causing the financial meltdown. Well, Democrats have learned our lessons about the dangers of deregulation, but Republicans seem to want to go right back down this same road again. (Etc.)” Because by glossing that over, he looks a lot less trustworthy to me, despite the fact that they appear to have written his statement in a careful, lawyer-like manner so he can claim he didn’t say he wasn’t also partly responsible for deregulation himself (although he clearly does not mention it, either).

And despite touting their new Wall St. regulations, the Obama administration has done nothing to reinstate the Glass–Steagall Act’s provisions, nor to break up the “too big to fail” banks, which most of the financial analysts I’ve heard on this subject say is what’s necessary to prevent the next big financial meltdown, and that we’re in a worse situation of inviting it now than we were in 2007. And that’s why it seems even more hypocritical for Bill Clinton to claim that President Obama has the right plan to protect the economy from financial deregulatory problems, when Obama’s people haven’t even fixed the regulatory issue Bill Clinton created when he signed the Glass–Steagall repeal into law. Or maybe President Clinton thinks only deregulation done during Republican administrations is bad, and the deregulation he signed is fine? He must, because he’s not pressing Obama to reinstate it, even though we very badly need it back.

I like President Clinton, but I think this ad is pretty misleading. And it’s too bad, because America is in a very bad state right now, and we need honest solutions. We’re just too screwed for more of the same political crap. If President Obama had fixed the problem President Clinton signed into law (that is, undo the repeal of the Glass–Steagall provisions), I would be a lot more convinced that he’s right for the economy; but as it happens, he didn’t. And I know Republicans wrote that repeal bill, but President Clinton could have vetoed it, but he signed it; and that one deregulatory action has damaged the country more than all the others combined.

I have plenty other criticisms of this ad, but that’s enough for now. Here’s the partisan propaganda piece:

And here’s the Wikipedia page on Glass–Steagall, if you’re a bored masochist, and you want to check your facts: