McCain said he would fire SEC Chair Chris Cox if he (McCain) were President.
It's been well covered that the President can't actually fire the SEC Chair, but what's most interesting is WHY McCain wants Cox out of there:
"The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work."- Christopher Cox, Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission (see here or here)
It's apparent McCain, who has been key in deregulating markets and a champion both now and during the S&L debacle of letting the financial industry regulate itself, it's apparent why McCain wants Cox gone -- Cox is revealing McCain's culpability and the culpability of GOP mantras for the reason behind the current mess.
Obama responded to McCain's calls for Cox to step down, saying
Obama: "In the next 47 days you can fire the whole trickle-down, on-your-own, look-the-other-way crowd in Washington who has led us down this disastrous path. Don't just get rid of one guy. Get rid of this administration. Get rid of this philosophy. Get rid of the do-nothing approach to our economic problem and put somebody in there who's going to fight for you."
Cox responded to McCain's blaming him by noting:
Cox: "The failure of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to give regulatory authority over investment bank holding companies to any agency of government was, based on the experience of the last several months, a costly mistake."
Gramm-Leach-Bliley (named after the three Republicans who drafted and sponsored the bill, which passed squarely along party lines) allowed banks, brokerage firms and insurers to combine after years of separation that was required under Depression-era laws, and eliminated many provisions of laws put in place to protect the public from schemes which brought about the Depression (e.g., it repealed Glass-Steagall).
So in response to McCain's attack pointing the blame finger, Cox has pointed out that his fellow Republicans in Congress, including McCain, are actually to blame by setting this in motion, and destroying the proven safeguards that had protected the market for 70 years.
You see, a little internecine spat between Republicans can be very telling.
Today's WSJ notes that:
The Securities and Exchange Commission missed "numerous potential red flags" leading up to the shotgun sale of Bear Stearns Cos., and failed to require the investment bank to rein in its risk taking, according to a scathing report from the agency's inspector general.
So perhaps McCain is right that Bush-appointee Cox is not entirely blameless, either. But would McCain's idea of switching out one lax regulations Republican with a different one solve the problem?
Perhaps McCain, should he become President, will assign VP Sarah Palin to clear up the problem by bringing in her husband and high school friends to run the agency. Clearly, putting back in the regulations McCain and the rest of the GOP destroyed is not something the lobbyists running McCain's campaign will support.