McCain’s new-found disdain for Wall Street

MCCAIN’S NEW-FOUND DISDAIN FOR WALL STREET…. In a speech this afternoon in Tampa, John McCain hammered Wall Street, condemning bankers and brokerage firms for “reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed.” He added, “Too many people on Wall Street have been recklessly wagering instead of making the sound investments we expected of them…. Too many people on Wall Street have forgotten or disregarded the basic rules of sound finance…. Too many firms on Wall Street have been able to count on casual oversight by regulatory agencies in Washington.”

It was, to put it mildly, terribly odd to read all of this. McCain has always supported the casual oversight he’s now railing against. He’s never lifted a finger to rein in Wall Street’s excesses — indeed, he’s actively opposed anyone who tried.

But Ezra raises an even more important point, and connects McCain’s comments to his Social Security policy.

John McCain’s contention is that Wall Street has, for years, been rotting in a toxic mixture of greed and overreach and corruption. Simultaneously, a 70-year-old regulatory structure has proven inadequate at checking the institution’s excesses. This is, in other words, a crisis composed of trends, rather than a singular, unpredictable, catastrophe.

Three years ago, John McCain signed on to George W. Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security. He surveyed Wall Street and decided that it was a stable enough institution to entrust with the nation’s pension funds. Three years ago. And this wasn’t just an attempt to cozy up to Bush: McCain was arguing for privatization in 1999. So McCain’s argument is that Wall Street is built atop an unstable regulatory foundation and is shot through with most of the seven deadly sins. That the situation has been allowed to fester so long is evidence that “people were asleep at the switch.” Even so, McCain has consistently argued that much of Social Security should be turned over to … Wall Street. Either he wanted to tank the nation’s pensions funds or he was one of the people asleep at the switch. But those are really the only two options here.

Exactly. I’d just add that McCain didn’t just endorse Bush’s privatization scheme three years ago, McCain also touted a system of private accounts three months ago.

Maybe now would be a good time for the McCain campaign to clarify McCain’s willingness to trust Wall Street when it comes to Social Security.