McCain Gets Both Acronym And Purpose Of SIPC Wrong

Our guest blogger is Andrew Jakabovics, Associate Director for the Economic Mobility Program at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) demonstrated again today that he was telling the truth about not knowing much about the economy. For a man concerned about protecting the average American from Wall Street greed, he seemed not to know who plays what role.

During a speech today in Tampa, FL, McCain repeatedly referred to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, the corporation that “return[s] customers’ cash, stock and other securities” if a brokerage goes bankrupt, and is known as the SIPC — as S-P-I-C. Watch it:

It’s possible that McCain misspoke (twice!) in rattling off what he called “the alphabet soup” of regulators, but the error appeared both times in the prepared text released by the campaign. Which raises the question: does he know what he’s talking about or is he just reading what is put in front of him?

Moving past the verbal gaffe, the more serious problem is that John McCain and his advisors don’t seem to know what SIPC is. In today’s speech, he said:

Too many firms on Wall Street have been able to count on casual oversight by regulatory agencies in Washington. And there are so many of those regulators that the responsibility for oversight is scattered, unfocused and ineffective. Among others, we’ve got the SEC, the CFTC, the FDIC, the SPIC and the OCC. But for all their big and impressive sounding names, the fact is they haven’t been doing their job right, or else we wouldn’t have these massive problems on Wall Street. At their worse, they’ve been caught up in Washington turf wars instead of working together to protect investors and the public interests. And we don’t need a dozen federal agencies doing the job badly — we need the best federal agencies to do the job right.

The problem is, SIPC is not a regulator. Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out the SIPC’s own web site, which states “Though created by the Securities Investor Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §78aaa et seq., as amended), SIPC is neither a government agency nor a regulatory authority. It is a nonprofit, membership corporation, funded by its member securities broker-dealers.”

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