Washington, Sept.17 : Senator John McCain is scrambling to recast himself as a champion of regulation to end "reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed" on Wall Street. "The Government has a clear responsibility to act in defense of the public interest, and that's exactly what I intend to do," a fiery McCain said at a rally in Tampa, Florida.
"In my administration, we're going to hold people on Wall Street responsible. And we're going to enact and enforce reforms to make sure that these outrages never happen in the first place," the Washington Post quoted him, as saying.
McCain's latest statement flies in the face of a stance that he took a decade ago by embracing a legislation to broadly deregulated the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace.
But with the Bush administration scrambling to prevent the collapse of the American International Group (AIG), the nation's largest insurance ompany, and stabilize a tumultuous Wall Street, the Republican presidential nominee hopes to tap into anger among voters who are looking for someone to blame for the economic meltdown that threatens their home values, bank accounts and 401(k) plans.
In 2002, McCain introduced a bill to deregulate the broadband Internet market, warning that "the potential for government interference with market forces is not limited to federal regulation."
Three years earlier, McCain had joined with other Republicans to push through the landmark the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that aimed to make the country's financial institutions competitive by removing the Depression-era walls between banking, investment and insurance companies.
That bill allowed AIG to participate in the gold rush of a rapidly expanding global banking and investment market. The legislation also helped pave the way for companies such as AIG and Lehman Brothers to become behemoths laden with bad loans and investments. McCain now condemns the executives at those companies for pursuing the ambitions that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act made possible.
"In an endless quest for easy money, they dreamed up investment schemes that they themselves don't even understand," he scathingly said.