March 2008: Conservatives Were For Deregulation Before They Were Against It

Our guest blogger is Ed Paisley, Vice President for Editorial at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Six months ago, the U.S. housing and global credit crises seemed manageable to the Bush administration. So manageable, in fact, that U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson unveiled a widely discussed blueprint for U.S. financial regulatory reform that called for less supervision of Wall Street by the Securities and Exchange Commission, more of the same lax supervision of the financial derivative products at the heart of today’s global market meltdown by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and much more risk to taxpayers to be taken on board courtesy of expanded powers for the Federal Reserve.

Back then, Mr. Paulson said in a speech that the plan detailed the administration’s desire to ease financial regulation. Bush administration spokeswoman Dana Perino seems to have forgotten the details in the plan when she told reporters yesterday that the administration “had a regulatory blueprint for them to follow, and they declined not to” — the “they” being Congress.

Perino was responding to a question from a reporter about whether the ultimate responsibility for today’s massive financial meltdown rests with the deregulatory philosophy of the Bush Administration and Congress, under the leadership of conservatives for more than a decade until two years ago. She gamely tried to deflect the question by blaming the regulators — as if these officials were not proposed by conservatives and in large part confirmed overwhelmingly by a conservative Congress that wanted to know they would do as little supervisory work as possible.

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