I've watched all three debates. In each one, I have been frustrated by John McCain's failure to make the points that matter. He did better in the third debate. But, as others have noted, he did not do what he could so easily have done: Knock Obama out of the race.
In the first debate, I expected McCain to come out with the obvious: He had introduced a bill to bring Fannie and Freddie under control; the Democrats had opposed it. Instead, he said nothing to differentiate himself from Obama. I chalked that up to McCain's sense of honor. While negotiations were still in progress, he would not feel free to make partisan remarks.
In the second debate, I nearly blew a gasket. Here is Obama accusing McCain of causing the crisis by voting for deregulation, and McCain says nothing in response. I figured Obama must have something on McCain in that regard.
So I spent a of couple days looking for the cause of the meltdown. I had heard about the government pressuring banks to make loans to poor people who could not afford to repay them. But I doubted that the amount of money involved could cause such a spectacular collapse. Did deregulation play a part? Was the charge of Wall St. greed substantive?
Stay with me for a few paragraphs, while I lay the groundwork for the point of this diary entry.
To ensure fairness, I confined my search to documents issued by the federal government, and by Freddie Mac, prior to 2007. I also looked at Freddie's current web site. The detailed findings belong in another entry; I'll be happy to post them if anyone is interested. It is the conclusions that are relevant to this entry.
I had expected to find a number of contributing causes for the financial meltdown, with plenty of blame to spread around. That's usually the way things work, and it would have explained McCain's failure to talk about the cause of the mess. But that's not the way it happened.
Deregulation was not a factor. True, a bill was passed near the end of the Clinton administration to deregulate the financial industry. However, the scope of deregulation was limited, and had little or nothing to do with mortgages. If anything, the deregulation has been used by some banks to limit their exposure to the current crisis.
Greed on Wall Street was not a factor. The only thing Wall Street did, along with investors around the world, was buy mortgage-backed securities offered by Fannie and Freddie. They bought these securities for the simple reason that the return was higher than other securities. Was there a lack of due diligence on the part of these investors? The answer seems to be yes. If so, the tacit guarantee of the securities by the US Treasury made it easy to be careless.
It's true that mortgage-backed securities were issued by other institutions as well. At least some of these securities were marketed as being in conformance with standards established by Fannie and Freddie. Thus, the influence of the GSEs extended beyond the securities which they themselves had issued.
Greed on the loan origination side was rampant. There is no excuse for this. But Fannie and Freddie made it easy to cheat by agreeing to buy loans which any reasonable person would refuse--if that person stood to lose his own money. Again, the GSEs were not the only ones buying bad loans. But they led the way; the others followed their example.
Greed on the part of borrowers was widespread, too. Some of it was ignorant greed, some of it was informed. Again, Fannie and Freddie made it easy.
This is the single primary cause of the world-wide financial meltdown: Government Sponsored Entities relaxed, to the point of irresponsibility, the credit standards for all borrowers, not just poor borrowers. In my opinion, it is clear that this collapse could not have occurred without the GSEs.
The relaxation of credit standards was done in the name of affordable housing--a cause near to the heart of the Democrat party. It was Democrats who designed this mess in Congress. It was Democrats (for the most part) who put the design into service at Fannie and Freddie. It was Democrats who resisted all efforts--feeble though they may have been--to rein in the GSEs.
Now to my point.
With the entire country livid at the thought of spending 700 billion dollars on a bail-out, all John McCain had to do was tell the truth.
"Democrats caused this mess; Democrats refuse to take responsibility for their actions. I (John McCain) co-sponsored a bill to increase regulation of Fannie and Freddie, but in hindsight I see that I did not push hard enough for reform. I acknowledge my part in this, and I apologize to the American people. This will not happen again."
"Now, the very same people who made this mess--Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid--these people want to run the health care system. They even have the nerve to say that they can reduce the cost of health care even as they force an increase in benefits. And all of this without raising taxes on the people who will benefit--the middle class. Don't believe it, folks. There is no such thing as a free lunch--or a free hospital visit."
That would be the end of Obama, the Empty Suit, the Cowardly Marxist, the sneaky little boy, the bully in the schoolyard who plays Teacher's Pet in the classroom.
But John MacCain has not done this. Will he do it? Can he do it?
The entire nation is fighting mad. The villians have been exposed.
This election is John McCain's to win. If he is not competent to win it, then he is certainly not competent to govern.