McCain’s Responsibility for the Financial Meltdown

John McCain is now shocked, shocked, that there was no oversight of the financial system over the last 8 years, and wants “new rules for Wall Street.”

John McCain was chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has as part of its jurisdiction “interstate commerce.” He could have called for hearings any time he wanted to. He didn’t want to.

Now, maybe he didn’t because he didn’t care, or maybe he didn’t because he didn’t want to offend Richard Shelby, the chair of Senate Banking. Ah yes–playing by insider Washington rules.

How exactly is that being a “maverick” again?

(In an otherwise good article today, the NYT’s Jackie Calmes gets spun and excuses McCain because he wasn’t on the Banking Committee. Nonsense. Senate chairs have hearings on all kinds of things whenever they want: that’s what makes the Senate the Senate. Legislation might be another matter. But the fact is that McCain had the subpoena power, and arguable co-jurisdiction, and didn’t lift a finger because he was too busy listening to Phil Gramm.).

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.