‘Let us be clear: this is a crisis caused on Wall Street,’ insisted Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her consensus-strangling speech on Monday, shortly before her fellow members of the House of Representatives voted to reject the President’s $700 billion bail-out plan. Out on the campaign trail, Barack Obama ventured that the root cause of the trouble in the markets was that ‘too many people in Washington and Wall Street weren’t minding the store’.
Consequently, this hardly seems the most appropriate moment to mount a defence of capitalism in general, and American bankers in particular, against the threats posed by meddlesome politicians and excessive regulation. But, what the heck. Unless we take advantage of this hiatus between the crashing of financial institutions to take an honest look at the origins of our current predicament, then today’s spin and myth-making will quickly harden into tomorrow’s firm conviction. Let us be clear: this crisis was not caused on Wall Street — it was caused in the White House. The root problem was not financial — it was political, and those truly responsible for this fiasco were not bankers, nor even Bush Republicans; they were Clinton Democrats.
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