All over the blogosphere, commenters suffer from unvented spleens. The PUMA contingent has been proven utterly right about Obama, and now all the (former?) Obots don't know how to react. Those arrogant bot bastards would rather bite off their own nipples than say "I got it wrong and I'm sorry."
(Incidentally, I am not a PUMA, being too ornery to accept any categorization not of my own devising. I am, and have been since early 2008, an anti-Obama Democrat. Keep it at that, and make no further presumptions.)
Naturally, the demoralized bots have resorted to the one activity that gives them solace: Blaming Bill Clinton for everything that has ever gone wrong in the world, up to and including the film version of The Spirit
That's why the blogosphere brims with snarling references to Bill Clinton's alleged gutting of Glass-Steagall, the banking reform act put through in the days of Hoover and FDR. Glass-Steagal kept banks out of the insurance and stock brokerage game; if the law had remained on the books, wheeler-dealers could not have turned mortgages into a worldwide Ponzi scheme. The bots want you to believe that Barack Obama has been forced to clean up a mess made by Bill Clinton.
The "Blame Bill!" contingent never mentions that Obama has always ruled out
renewing the Glass-Steagall provisions:
The argument is not to go back to the regulatory framework of the 1930's because, as I said, the financial markets have changed substantially. The question is, how do we build new regulatory systems that are flexible, that reflect new realities, that aren't going to put undue constraints on innovation in the financial markets...
He said those words in 2008. Since that time, Obama has done little or nothing to regulate the financial markets, aside from offering a grandly odious scheme to institutionalize government backing of the "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions. What Obama wants goes beyond moral hazard: It's moral suicide
In fact, the basic idea behind Glass-Steagall remains valid, and it was valid in 2008. Things have not changed that
much since 1933. A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is still a sigh, and Wall Street is still filled with hyenas. That is why some in Congress are, thank God, talking about bringing us back to sanity
on the Glass-Steagall front.
And as we scan that front, where is Barack Obama? Nowhere in sight. Steny Hoyer, not the White House, is fighting for the return of Glass-Steagall.
Oh, but it gets better: Former Citibank Chairman John S. Reed -- the businessman who instigated the 1999 repeal effort -- now wants Glass-Steagall back. But not Barack Obama. Wrap your brain cells around that flabbergaster, kitties: Obama stands to the right of the guy who ran Citibank.
Let's return our attentions to the "Blame Bill" contingent.
What was Clinton's real
role in the repeal of Glass-Steagall back in 1999? I shall repeat some material published previously. These are facts which most "progressives" don't want you to know, because most progressives suffer from an incurable case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. To paraphrase a popular Upton Sinclairism, it is difficult to get a person to understand something if his CDS depends on his not understanding it.
As mentioned above, Glass-Steagall divided commercial banks from investment houses; it also created the FDIC (which, I am happy to report, is still there). Banks grew to dislike this "separation of powers." Why? Because in boom times, people put their money in stocks, while in hard times, people put cash into savings accounts. Banks wanted to get in on both
In 1998, Travelers (a really big insurance and financial services company) announced a merger with Citibank (a really big bank headed by the aforementioned Mr. Reed). This was not legal. This merger violated Glass-Steagall. That's why a lot of helpful people in Congress decided to change the law. You may decide for yourself whether campaign contributions affected that decision.
Thus was born the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which replaced Glass-Steagall. A growing number of economists believe that this Act helped to create the current subprime crisis, because it allowed bad loans to be packaged and sold in a global game of three-card monte.
Here's the key fact that the the progs won't tell you about: The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed by a veto-proof majority in a Republican-controlled Congress.
You can blame the Republicans, but not just
the Republicans. There were also powerful Democrats, such as Dodd and Schumer, who wanted to kill Glass-Steagal.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed the House by a whopping 343-86.
Did Clinton try to fight the act? Yes. Every step of the way. Contemporary reports prove the point, however much the progs may attempt to rewrite history.
The opposition was simply too powerful. Clinton had no choice but to focus like the proverbial laser beam on a more restrictive goal: Maintaining the Community Reinvestment Act, which Gramm hoped to kill with the same piece of legislation. The CRA, as expanded by Clinton in 1994, helped minorities and the working poor get home loans and business loans.
The Republican majority (and quite a few Democratic sell-outs) forced Clinton to compromise. Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and even said a few laudatory words as he did so. That was the price of maintaining CRA. Blaming Bill Clinton for Gramm's stupid law is like blaming Raoul Wallenberg for not defeating the Wehrmacht single-handed.
The CRA is a major reason why most black people used to love Bill Clinton.
That love affair lasted until the Obama cultists began crying "racist!" at any perceived enemy, especially if that enemy was named Clinton. The resultant frenzy made a lot of people forget all about those loans.
Shall I come out and say it? Yes, I think I shall: Any black homeowner or small business owner who got loans thanks to Clinton's CRA, yet who later fell for the "Clintons-as-racists" canard, is an ungrateful asshole who deserves to be spat on.
Fortunately, many African Americans are finally starting to notice that Barack Obama has never helped any black person not named Obama.
Here's the irony: The Republican version of the "blame Bill" strategy is really a "blame the blacks" strategy. Ever since the disaster of 2008, conservatives have argued that the CRA caused the economic meltdown. All such arguments are pure bullshit.
Nothing in the Community Reinvestment Act forced fly-by-night mortgage outfits to hand out houses to anyone with a pulse. Nothing in the CRA permitted lying on loan application forms. Nothing in the CRA allowed for tossing out basic underwriting principles. Most importantly: Nothing in the CRA forced large financial institutions to slap a triple-A rating on weird new financial instruments based on crap loans, which were then sold worldwide. (And nothing in the CRA stops the Obama Justice Department from prosecuting the miscreants who lied about the value of those instruments.)
Bill Clinton did the right thing, given the tenor of the times. Nevertheless, everyone blames him.
The right blames Bill for preserving the CRA.
The left blames Bill for signing Gramm-Leach-Bliley -- which would have passed under any circumstances -- while never crediting him for preserving CRA.
Now you know what really
happened. Any strained argument which attempts to rewrite this history is nothing more than CDS-fueled casuistry.
Oh. By the way. Do you recall the name of the 1999 bill? It was called the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The "Leach" bit refers to Congressman Jim Leach. He's a Republican. And in 2008, he strongly supported Barack Obama