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Argument: Deregulation and free-market ideologies caused US economic crisis

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George Will. "A Vote Against Rashness". Real Clear Politics. 1 Oct. 2008 - With the fate of the Bush administration’s desperate $700 billion bailout of the financial industry hanging in the balance, Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, stuck to his political playbook like a man covered in Krazy Glue. He pronounced himself “resolute” in his opposition to the bailout because to be otherwise would amount to a betrayal of party principles.

To deviate from those principles, in Mr. Issa’s view, would be like placing “a coffin on top of Ronald Reagan’s coffin.”

We are in very strange territory here.

George H.W. Bush warned us about “voodoo economics” in 1980, but the ideologues clamped a gag on him and put him on the Gipper’s ticket. For much of the time since then, the madmen of the right have carried the day. They were freed of their remaining few restraints with the ascendance of George W. Bush in 2000.

These were the reckless clowns who led us into the foolish multitrillion-dollar debacle in Iraq and who crafted tax policies that enormously benefited millionaires and billionaires while at the same time ran up staggering amounts of government debt. This is the crowd that contributed mightily to the greatest disparities in wealth in the U.S. since the gilded age.

This was the crowd that cut the cords of corporate and financial regulations and in myriad other ways gleefully hacked away at the best interests of the United States.

Now we’re looking into the abyss.

When President Bush went on television last week to drum up support for the bailout package, he looked almost dazed, like someone who’d just climbed out of an auto wreck.

“Our entire economy is in danger,” he said.

He should have said that he, along with his irresponsible Republican colleagues and their running buddies in the corporate and financial sectors, put the entire economy in danger. John McCain and his economic main man, Phil (“this is a mental recession”) Gramm, were right there running with them.

Credit markets have frozen almost solid, banks are toppling like dominoes and brokerage houses are vanishing like props in a magic act. And who was one of the paramount leaders of the manic anti-regulatory charge that led to this sorry state of affairs? None other than Mr. Gramm himself, a former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Where is Mr. Gramm now? Would you believe that he’s the vice chairman of UBS Securities, the investment banking arm of the Swiss bank UBS? Of course you would. A New York Times article last spring noted that the “elite private bankers” of UBS “built a lucrative business in recent years by discreetly tending the fortunes of American millionaires and billionaires.”

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