Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Financial Finger Pointing

I must not be on the same GOP newsletter as everyone else down here. I missed the announcement about the new strategy! Today alone, I had three friends try to get me to sign up for the strategy. It seems to be: Blame Clinton for the current financial implosion because it is really HIS fault and the Democrats' fault.

Here is the crux of the argument: In 1995, Clinton signed into office the Community Reinvestment Act. It forced banks (against their will and their better judgment) to give huge loans to hopelessly unqualified minorities. Then the mythos grows to include the chivalrous GOP trying to heroically defeat the bill. But the vile, devious Dems stymied every valiant effort. And a decade later, here we all, because of Billy Clinton and those greedy, manipulative Dems.

Of course this is all a recent piece of folklore. Just in time for the 2008 elections. Just in time to try to diminish Obama's newfound lead in the polls. Never mentioned in the past 13 years. Never corrected while the GOP-controlled Congress was working hand in hand with the GOP-controlled White House. Not fixed when they had a clear, unobstructed majority. Nope. But they suddenly find the strength to bellyache and point fingers about it NOW. After the fact.

However, the biggest problem with this new urban myth is that President Clinton did not sign the bill creating the Community Reinvestment Act of 1995. That's because there was no bill to sign. And he did not enact the changes. The original act in 1977 (Item 12 U.S.C. 2901) gave broad regulatory powers to three agencies: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. These agencies made the regulatory changes within the power they already had under CRA 1977.

Of course that bit of trivia won't make it into the GOP newsletter or Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points. But it does make a few folks feel better about themselves and their party because they get to point the finger at Bill Clinton and the Democrats, from 1995.

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