McCain spent months during the nomination process trying to convince us he was against all government regulation. “I’m always for less regulation,” Wall Street Journal quotes him saying six months ago. He added: “I’d like to see a lot of the unnecessary government regulations eliminated.” He now is now suggesting that he has been championing legislation that would have created regulations sufficient to have avoided the present crisis. I have not seen McCain explicitly make such a far-fetched claim, but certainly many of his supporters seem to believe this.
McCain has pointed to his sponsorship of S. 190 in 2006 to show that he is not as hard line as he presented himself earlier. His supplicants seem to have picked up this ball and run right out of the stadium with it.
Some people have actually claimed that the present crisis would have been averted if “McCain’s bill” had passed. We have to stop right there. McCain did not even believe that the scope of the bill could have such an effect when he endorsed it. The bill was written in response to an accounting scandal that rocked Freddie Mack and Fannie Mae. In the best of all circumstances the bill would have helped avert (this is hotly contested) the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack, but that had happened before the current crisis.
In his speech in which he announced his sponsorship a year and a quarter after the bill was introduced, he said”
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.
He does in his concluding sentence allude to problems for the economy if effective regulations are not implemented but this was not the focus of the speech at all.
At this point in time some form of the bill was on the floor of the Senate and it was capable of being voted on but it was entirely ignored had would never be voted on. An amended form of the bill came out of the committee but to my knowledge there is no record of the bill as was when it emerged from the committee. There is only the notation that it was changed. Significantly omitted from McCain’s four minute speech is any encouragement that it be voted on, whatever it was.
Many people say that the Democrats filibustered this bill to prevent the Republicans from passing it. There is simply no record of that at all. Others say that it was the threat of a Democratic filibuster that prevented the bill’s passage and I have been unable to turn up any hint of that either.
The truth is that a significant number of Republicans opposed the bill. The American Enterprise Institute was against it. It is hard to imagine that this opposition was not reflected in the attitude of the majority of Republican senators. Furthermore one of the most prominent lobbying groups for deregulation was opposed to it. In this light it is easy to see why no Republicans were championing the bill at all. Nor to my knowledge were any Democrats in the Republican-controlled senate.
Because the bill was fated to wither on the legislative vine and die unvoted upon in a few months, McCain vote was entirely safe. He could create the appearance of a record without doing anything or even voting against the Republican “base.” The proof of the political purpose of his sponsorship, as opposed to substantive support, is that the bill was reintroduced in 2007 without McCain sponsorship or support.
The sole remaining deviation from McCain’s record of voting to deregulate Wall Street and the financial community was with respect to the Sarbanes-Onley bill, which in the wake of corporate accounting scandals required enhanced reporting. After passage this fell on harsh criticism from corporate executives and McCain said that he regretted voting for it.
Other than these two minor deviations, I believe that McCain until now has been an ardent proponent of deregulation.