Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fact Checking Bill Clinton

Last month an army of fact-checkers descended on GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s convention acceptance speech.

But, how many fact checkers pored through the assertions made at the Democratic National Convention?

How many fact checkers examined the fundamental premise of the Obama campaign, namely, that we shouldn’t want to go back to the policies that got us into this mess.

Bill Clinton delivered the message, but considering the former president’s strained relationship to the truth, you would have thought that some fact checker would have tried to estimate whether he was telling the truth.

All the fact checkers were so dazzled by Bill Clinton’s brilliance that they chose to ignore his truthfulness.

It’s the story of Clinton’s life.

Since good things come to those who wait, the highly estimable columnist, Caroline Baum has fact checked Bill Clinton. In doing so she offers us a clear analysis for how the financial crisis came about.

Hint: it had nothing to do with the Bush tax cuts or the Iraq war or deregulation.

It was “bad loans.”

So, Baum fact checks Bill Clinton’s spin:

And while we’re on the subject of Clinton, I almost fell off my chair when I saw his recent ad endorsing Obama.

“The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation,” Clinton says. “That’s what got us in trouble in the first place.”

Deregulation? As in the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999? Didn’t some Obama campaign official vet the ad before the president gave it his imprimatur?

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, better known at Gramm-Leach-Bliley, removed the barriers among banks, investment banks and insurance companies. Banks got bigger and more leveraged. Pretty soon, they were too big to fail.

Next came the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which exempted over-the-counter swaps and derivatives from regulation. It was signed into law in 2000 by…Bill Clinton. Leading the deregulatory charge during his administration were Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin -- who subsequently landed a plum job with no line responsibility at Citigroup, which had already merged with Travelers before Glass-Steagall was repealed -- and his No. 2, Larry Summers. The idea was to distribute risk; the effect was to magnify it.

That’s just a sample. Baum’s article is well worth a read.

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Anyone who actually read Bill Clinton's speeches would know that he was not conversant with the truth. I am not sure what possesses us to think "My what a nice sounding speech," and not pay any heed to what the speech actually states. Why do we seem so easily fooled by words instead of interested in action?
At least Bill Clinton's lies and dissembling were some what based in reality and he could speak extemporaneously. Obama's don't even have that in common. Just what is the substantive foundation for"hope and change?" For that matter what is the substantive basis for almost any action taken by the Obama administration?
What we get is a lot of adjectives, adverbs and a noun or two instead of something that has a concrete basis in action. The pen is mightier than the sword only if the sword is there to be utilized to make the words have substance. Otherwise they have the same value as the word "racist" no has to reality.
It is some what like saying "We are a nation of laws," but aren't the nations run by people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao and every tin pot dictatorship a nation of laws? They have their lawyers and judicial systems as well. As there must be substance behind the pen, laws, et al there needs to be substance that a people can trust. Everything depends on the people actually understanding the words and what they portend. Not how they sound.