McCain’s economic confusion lingers

MCCAIN’S ECONOMIC CONFUSION LINGERS…. With the financial crisis having unfolded in earnest over a month ago, one would like to assume that John McCain has had time to read up on the issue, get his facts straight, and get a better understanding of the one issue on which he’s admitted his ignorance.

No such luck. McCain chatted with Human Events’ John Gizzi yesterday about a variety of topics, including the financial crisis. It’s probably worth taking a moment to question the wisdom of a presidential candidate spending time with a magazine as far on the fringe of American political ideology as Human Events, but let’s put that aside for now and consider what McCain actually said.

Gizzi began, predictably, by trying to blame the crisis on Democrats and the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. McCain, who has to realize how wrong this is, nevertheless played the role of far-right hack.

“I think that Fannie and Freddie and certainly the CRA you are talking about are a big part of it. There was an Inspector General’s report, I believe, that talked about unsafe and unsound financial practices. And [the Democrats’] defense of Freddie and Fannie was remarkable. Certainly, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank and many others were there.

“Regarding the CRA, the much-maligned [former Texas Sen.] Phil Gramm fought it and led the opposition to it. So there’s no doubt that those of us who sponsored legislation to reign in Freddie and Fannie were defeated by the Democrats. I wonder if Republicans had not lost control of Congress [in ’06] that maybe we could have acted and avoided the financial crisis in ’07.

“But having said that, John, Republicans bear a great responsibility for letting spending get out of control. So when this crisis took place, they had no cushion. Okay?

“A ten trillion deficit, debt to China $500 billion. So, I’d love to blame the Democrats for all of it, but a spending spree and the increase in the size of government [when Republicans controlled Congress] and increasing the national debt also helped create this firestorm.”

None of this makes a lick of sense. Literally, every sentence is ridiculous.

McCain continues to blame Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He’s completely wrong.

What’s more, McCain buys into the CRA nonsense, despite the fact that this absurd argument has been discredited over and over again. (As Ezra politely explained this week, “[Everyone] spouting this CRA bullshit, is a fraud, and they should be laughed out of polite company.”)

Even McCain’s comments highlighting Republicans’ culpability is foolish. Excessive spending “helped create” the financial crisis? How’s that, exactly?

A month after the crisis began, and just 17 days before Election Day, John McCain remains economically illiterate. It’s actually kind of scary.

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