Bush Blamed

Leave ’em alone. They don’t need oversight. They’re just playing under Bush.

Finger Pointing
The NYTimes somewhat timidly reports that economists are putting the blame for Wall Street’s errors on poor oversight in general and Bush in particular.

Guffaw, ha ha, sneer, scorn, Our President, George W. BushAnd while economists and other experts say there are plenty of culprits — Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the Federal Reserve, an overzealous home-lending industry, banks and also Mr. Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton — they do agree that the Bush administration bears part of the blame.

These experts, from both political parties, say Mr. Bush’s early personnel choices and overarching antipathy toward regulation created a climate, that, if it did not set off the turmoil, almost certainly aggravated it.

The president’s first two Treasury secretaries, for instance, lacked the kind of Wall Street expertise that might have helped them raise red flags about the use of complex financial instruments that are at the heart of the crisis.

To his credit, Mr. Bush accurately foresaw the danger posed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and began calling as early as 2002 for greater regulation. But experts say the administration could have done even more to curb excesses in the housing market, and much more to police Wall Street, which transmitted those problems around the world.

Vincent R. Reinhart, a former Federal Reserve economist now at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute here, said that, in retrospect, “it would have helped for the Bush administration to empower the folks at Treasury and the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency and the F.D.I.C.” — the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — “to look at these issues more closely.”

He said it would also have helped “for Congress to have held hearings.”

Instead, voices inside the administration for tougher policing of Wall Street found themselves with few supporters.

“I believe that the president is exhausted and the vice president has been marginalized, and what you now have is the Washington interests . . . dominating the administration,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said.

‘Washington Interests’ running the U.S.A.?
Wot? Send me your passport!
Do I hafta spell out what citizenship is…?
Fix it, America.
In America’s interest.