Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Slick Willie's got nothing on Obama!

Once again, Obama talks the talk of being a reformer, but only McCain actually walks the walk.

Hot Air reports that John McCain co-sponsored legislation in 2005 designed to reform the GSEs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that are at the heart of the current financial crisis:
For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.

I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.
Obama, newly sworn in as the junior Senator from Illinois at the time, did not join as a co-sponsor with McCain nor has he sponsored or co-sponsored any such legislation since.

What's more, after Democrat Chris Dodd from Connecticut killed McCain's bill in the Banking Committee, Obama went on to become the #2 recipient of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac campaign contributions! He did this in less than four years in the Senate, leapfrogging even John Kerry who has been in the Senate since 1984. That's quite an accomplishment indeed, but it's not one of reform.

The breakdown of contributions is found here at Open Secrets, the non-partisan campaign finance website. The aforementioned Senator Dodd (a Senator since 1980) is #1 in receiving a total of $165,400 in combined PAC and individual contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac contributors from 1989 through 2008. Obama, despite not even being on the Senate Banking Committee, has vaulted to the #2 position receiving $126,349 in contributions since 2005, eclipsing Senator John Kerry (in the Senate since 1984) who has received a total of $111,000 since 1989.

And McCain, who has been in the Senate since 1986 -- what is his record? Well, since 1989 McCain has received a whopping $21,550 in contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It's worth noting that all those contributions are individual contributions, not PAC donations. McCain, like Obama, has not been on the Senate Banking Committee, and yet he managed to co-sponsor reform legislation where Obama has not. Unsuccessfully, to be sure, but still he at least gave it an effort!

The difference in contributions from these doomed giants becomes all the more stark if you break it down into a yearly average. Rounding up to 4 years, Obama's average yearly received total from Fannie/Freddie amounts to $31,587.25 for each and every year he's been in the Senate. By contrast, McCain's 20-year average from 1989-2008 works out to $1,077.50 per year. If Obama had been in the Senate as long as McCain or Kerry or Dodd has, his total take from Fannie/Freddie would be in the realm of $631,745, or nearly four times the take of current champ Dodd.

There are many, many things Obama is. A brillian law student, yes. A passable community activist who gave up when things got difficult, that too. An ambitious climber of a State Senator, yep. A Senator who ran for President before even a third of his first term was up? Sure! A reformer, though? Please don't insult my intelligence.

This infuriates me so because I am a Democrat, and in my still beating Democratic heart I want to believe that Democrats are on the side of the little guy, while Republicans are the corrupt hacks on the take.

But no, there are corrupt hacks in both parties, and there are true reformers to be found in both parties too. You have to look beyond party labels, and judge them on the content of their character, as illustrated time and again through their record.

The qualms of my Democratic heart are relieved, then, because once again I find that McCain is the reformer, while Obama proves himself to be nothing more than the latest version of the corrupt Chicago machine politician.

Neither man is perfect, and it's ridiculous to expect perfection. But the difference between McCain and Obama on this and other reform issues is so clear as to be laughable. Slick Willie has nothing on Obama, nothing.

UPDATE: As if to put an exclamation point on all of the above, Dennis Byrne of the Chicago Tribune writes on Obama Sidestepping Reform in Illinois.


Liam said...

A couple points --

1) Sponsoring legislation and calling that legislation a 'reform', does not make it so.
2) Not all reforms are necessarily good. For example, some people argue that one of the factors in the current mess we are is that in the name of 'reform' the repeal of the Glass Steagle act was enacted and by critics accounts that repeal was not well thought out.(For the record I believe that repeal was done by a Republican Congress and Democratic President.)
3) McCain is Reagan era Republican so he considers himself a deregulator in the name of 'reform'. Clearly the current mess somewhat owes to deregulating impulses that have gone on for 25 years, but started in the Reagan era and are driven by the ideology of that era.
4) McCain was part of the S & L mess back in the day, that was also at least partially caused by 'reform' done in the name of deregulation.

Thunderheart said...

True, all true.

1) But sponsoring legislation to curb Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's exposure to bad loans and to increase regulatory oversight in 2005, as McCain did, certainly would seem to be a useful reform in hindsight. Chris Dodd, the only Senator who took more money from Fannie/Freddie than has Obama, killed that legislation, and Obama did not support it though he was new to the Senate.
2) True, Glass-Steagall was repealed by the Republican Congress, and supported by Obama advisor Robert Rubin, then Clinton's Treasury Secretary, and signed by Clinton himself.
3) Yes, broadly McCain has been for de-regulation but there are important exceptions.
4) McCain's Keating Five involvment, again, is not quite as it has been portrayed. The significant thing, for me, is that he took the lesson from this to get involved with campaign finance reform, which he championed for 7 years until it's successful passage in 2004.