2008 financial meltdown/Clinton

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It has been argued that Bill Clinton helped cause the 2008 financial meltdown, partly because of his supposedly major role in causing the 2008 mortgage crisis (which has been disproven) and partly because of other actions and inactions.

This claim is then used as support for the idea that the crisis was not caused by any actions of George W. Bush or the Republican Party.

Non-Mortgage Specific

The primary claim that Clinton caused the crisis overall (as opposed to being responsible only for the mortgage-related portion thereof) seems to come from a mid-2009 MSN article which lays the following charges:

Conclusions

While it seems entirely likely that Clinton's judgment was in error on these items, it is a bit of a stretch to say that they "caused" a crisis which occurred a decade later -- during which time an incredibly irresponsible and spendthrift president (George W. Bush):

  • started two wars (US-Iraq War, US invasion of Afghanistan)...
  • ...towards the cost of which he not only failed to increase taxes but actually cut taxes...
  • ...and rather than using those tax cuts for those who need them most (lower and middle-class families who would be hardest-hit by any financial downturn), his tax cuts primarily benefited the rich -- the very people who could best afford to pay for a war, and many of whom stood to profit from the war through companies in which they held stock.

To the extent that this claim is being used to deflect blame from Bush or from Republican policies, it is a non-starter at best, and reflective of a Republican tendency toward blatant and unapologetic hypocrisy.

1998

First, it is not reasonable to say that failure to take a specific action is responsible for causing something else to happen -- especially when top advisors (Greenspan and Levitt) advised against it.

Second, this claim (even if arguably true) cannot be used to support a Republican agenda. Republicans fight tooth and nail against government regulation in any form. If it can be shown that they wanted Clinton to take action while the Democrats did not, then that might cast a different light on Clinton's actions, but we would need to catch at least a glimpse of some greater principle at work (i.e. not "a liberal is against it, so we're for it").

1999

Again, this argument cannot be used in support of Republican policies. The overturn of Glass-Steagall was accomplished by the 1999 Financial Services Modernization Act (aka the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act), which had long been a Republican agenda item.

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