Ezra Klein Archive: Today, John McCain said, "Wall Street has betrayed us. They've broken the social contract between capitalism and the average citizen and the worker. And workers are paying a very heavy price while a lot of them are not only emerging unscathed but some of them are left with packages of a hundred million dollars or so. This is a result of excess and greed and corruption.... And we got to fix it.... We have to have a 9/11 commission to find out what went wrong.... And as president, I guarantee you, it will never happen again"...
John McCain's contention is that Wall Street has, for years, been rotting in a toxic mixture of greed and overreach and corruption. Simultaneously, a 70-year-old regulatory structure has proven inadequate at checking the institution's excesses. This is, in other words, a crisis composed of trends, rather than a singular, unpredictable, catastrophe.
Three years ago, John McCain signed on to George W. Bush's efforts to privatize Social Security. He surveyed Wall Street and decided that it was a stable enough institution to entrust with the nation's pension funds. Three years ago. And this wasn't just an attempt to cozy up to Bush: McCain was arguing for privatization in 1999. So McCain's argument is that Wall Street is built atop an unstable regulatory foundation and is shot through with most of the seven deadly sins. That the situation has been allowed to fester so long is evidence that "people were asleep at the switch." Even so, McCain has consistently argued that much of Social Security should be turned over to... Wall Street. Either he wanted to tank the nation's pensions funds or he was one of the people asleep at the switch. But those are really the only two options here.