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The Difference on Finance

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"The Difference on Finance"

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Based on a lot of John McCain’s rhetoric about the financial crisis, you’d think that he and Barack Obama basically have similar views — out of control greed, regulators asleep at the switch, need to do better — but he’s a grizzled veteran whereas Obama just showed up yesterday. But a good Jackie Calmes article in The New York Times manages to eschew words like “lie,” “mislead,” or “deceive” while still driving home the fact that McCain’s presentation of his views on the subject is at odds with his record, his policy proposals, and his team of advisers:

The crisis on Wall Street will leave the next president facing tough choices about how best to regulate the financial system, and although neither Senator Barack Obama nor Senator John McCain has yet offered a detailed plan, their records and the principles they have set out so far suggest they could come at the issue in very different ways.

On the campaign trail on Monday, Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, struck a populist tone. Speaking in Florida, he said that the economy’s underlying fundamentals remained strong but were being threatened “because of the greed by some based in Wall Street and we have got to fix it.”

But his record on the issue, and the views of those he has always cited as his most influential advisers, suggest that he has never departed in any major way from his party’s embrace of deregulation and relying more on market forces than on the government to exert discipline.

While Mr. McCain has cited the need for additional oversight when it comes to specific situations, like the mortgage problems behind the current shocks on Wall Street, he has consistently characterized himself as fundamentally a deregulator and he has no history prior to the presidential campaign of advocating steps to tighten standards on investment firms.

Calmes notes that McCain leans heavily on arch-deregulator Phil Gramm, whose legislation bears some specific responsibility for this mess, for economic policy guidance. And Pat Garofalo’s profile of the overall economic team shows that it’s more of the same after Gramm.

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