Lehman Brothers collapsed on Sept. 15, 2008, effectively kicking off the most severe global financial crisis since the Great Depression, and in the process, taking what was a fairly mild recession and creating a prolonged economic nightmare.
One need not be an industry expert to know that the crisis was created, in large part, by deregulation — there was no cop on the beat to prevent systemic recklessness, incompetence, and fraud.
And exactly three years later, Republicans who championed deregulation going into the Lehman Brothers collapse are still fighting for more deregulation. Pat Garofalo notes today:
Despite the ongoing pain still being felt by the American people — with the foreclosure rate continuing to climb — congressional Republicans have been fighting the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law tooth and nail. Earlier this week, the GOP’s presidential candidates even called for the law’s full repeal, in order to “free up” Wall Street. […]
When the GOP first won its House majority, now House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) explained that, in his view, Washington’s rile is “to serve the banks.” And at the moment, Wall Street banks are pulling in record profits.
The Center for Public Integrity has found that “the Street and other financial institutions engaged about 3,000 lobbyists to fight Dodd-Frank — more than five lobbyists for every member of Congress — and have hired almost the same number to delay, weaken, or otherwise prevent its implementation.” And when it comes to the GOP, that investment appears to be paying off.
If American politics made any sense, Republicans would be terrified of positions like these. Wall Street nearly destroyed the global economic system, then survived thanks to a very generous bailout from, you know, us. This did not stop Wall Street from fighting tooth and nail to prevent new safeguards and layers of accountability, approved by Democrats over Republican objections, and continuing to demand more freedom to go back to the system the way it was three years ago.
Remarkably, Republicans — in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail — have no qualms about pushing an agenda that would do exactly as the financial industry requests. What should be an automatic deal-breaker for a voter with a pulse has become a standard GOP talking point: vote for Republicans so they can go easy on Wall Street again.
Voters in the 2010 midterms didn’t seem to mind any of this. Congressional Republicans literally coordinated with lobbyists from hedge funds and bailed out banks to kill Wall Street reform. They failed, but Americans rewarded Republicans with a House majority anyway. A year later, GOP leaders are not only blocking reform measures and trying to repeal the law, they’re using this as part of a national platform.
Republicans are awfully lucky most Americans don’t follow politics closely. If the public was better informed, I suspect GOP candidates would struggle to win any races at all.