One of the things I’ve noted in following Obama’s campaign is how much he dwells on the supposed failures of the “last eight years.” In the second presidential debate, the Democrat used the term nine times. By contrast, in the vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin only used the term “maverick” (including its plural form, “mavericks”) six times. (I wonder if Saturday Night Live will mock the Democrat for this excess when they spoof the exchange.)
On the stump (as well as in his book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream), the Democratic presidential nominee claims the Bush era was one of deregulation. Indeed, in the most recent debate, he contended McCain’s policy was identical to that of those last eight years in that regard:
He believes in deregulation in every circumstance. That’s what we’ve been going through for the last eight years. It hasn’t worked, and we need fundamental change.
Yet, unless I’m missing something, Obama hasn’t specified any particular Bush-era policies which led to deregulation, particularly in the financial sector. (Readers please alert me if he has with links so I can update the post accordingly–thanks!) From my own research into the financial meltdown, I can only come up with evidence that Bush favored increased regulation of at least one sector of the financial industry, the government-sponsored enterprises.
I am aware the president signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which created “a new quasi-public agency, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or PCAOB . . . charged with overseeing, regulating, inspecting, and disciplining accounting firms in their roles as auditors of public companies.” Rather than deregulate the industry, this bill increased regulation of corporations. Some have claimed the added cost of compliance with this legislation is causing American financial markets to lose their competitive edge, with some corporations choosing to move their headquarters overseas to escape its requirements.
(Has the Bush team, at the administrative level then decreased regulation?)
The long and the short of it, is my query: is Barack Obama demagoguing the deregulation issue? From my perspective and I’m a guy who has followed the news pretty regularly these past eight years, I don’t know of much deregulation pushed by the Bush Administration. But, then again, finance is not my area or expertise.
It just doesn’t seem we’ve been going through much deregulation these past eight years, as Barack Obama has claimed. And with Sarbanes-Oxley, it seems quite the opposite is true.