As the financial markets crumble, Senate Democrats continue to emphasize the need for strong leadership and decisive action while out-of-touch Bush-McCain Republicans seek more of the same failed policies that got us into this mess in the first place. Today Senators Barbara Boxer, Debbie Stabenow and Bob Menendez took to the Senate Floor to discuss how the turmoil on Wall Street is a direct legacy of Bush-McCain economic policies that have failed this nation for eight years.
Said Senator Boxer:
To hear a United States Senator — namely, Senator McCain — go out and say "the fundamentals of this economy are strong," it does bring cold shivers up and down my spine. To think that anyone would say that you have to go back to the days of Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, the day after the market crashed in 1929 and we entered the Great Depression.
In 1999 the average American family spent $3,200 on cost of living expenses; in 2007, $7,585, and the average household earned less in 2006 than in 2000. So incomes are going down, expenses are going up; groceries, heating, gas, health care. The fundamentals are our economy are strong?
As Senator Obama said, what economy? Not this economy. The average household, again, earned less in 2006 than they did in 2000. Job growth during this administration has been the slowest since Herbert Hoover, the slowest since Herbert Hoover, 1929, the Great Depression. Our economy has lost jobs for eight straight months; 84,000 jobs were lost last month. The fundamentals of this economy are strong? What?
One in five Americans are unemployed for more than 26 weeks, an increase of 8.2% over 2001. Americans living in poverty increased by 5.7 million since 2000; 37 million Americans live in poverty! The fundamentals of this economy are strong? Spare me.
Existing home sales fell by 22% in 2007. President Bush inherited a surplus. We now have an enormous deficit. The debt has increased over $4 trillion since 2001. We are spending $10 billion a month in Iraq. The money is leaving the country. We’re not making the investments; and the fundamentals of this economy are strong?
Every American — I don’t care what party; I don’t care, Republican, Democratic, Independent — should be up in arms about our leader in this country looking at the figures, and I have only given you a little bit of the story.
So let’s get real. The fundamentals of this economy are weak and the people are anxious and they should be anxious and it’s time for change.
The fundamentals of the economy are strong, says Senator John McCain. We are, in fact, looking at an example of what it means to live under a philosophy of President Bush, John McCain and the Republicans, and what actually happens if their philosophy comes into being in terms of actions.
This culture of greed and corruption, supported by Senator McCain and President Bush and others for six years running has led to Enron. I remember having, Mr. President, people sitting in my office who had everything in their company’s pension plan. They worked for Enron. And they came in and they lost it all. They lost it all because of the schemes and the lack of accountability and oversight. They lost everything in their pension plan and they sat in my office and said "thank goodness for social security because that’s all I have left."
The same folks who gave us the Enron debacle want to privatize Social Security, including John McCain. No big contracts like Halliburton in Iraq, continual tax cuts only for the wealthiest Americans, weak oversight of public industries, regulated industries, regulated in the public interest; a disregard for the constitution, and now the latest economic crisis that we see.
Fundamentally the question is who are we as a country? And do we want to continue these failed philosophies? This is not by accident. I would suggest that this is the result of the worldview, of a set of values and philosophies that do not put the majority of Americans and our country first.
But unfortunately, it’s those policies that have gotten us to where we are today. This is the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression, and what is the plan at this point? To study the problem. Senator McCain has said today we should "study the problem." Mr. President, we don’t need another commission. What we need are people that will make sure that the accountability, the oversight, the power that is here to stop price gouging, to bring oversight to what is going on, is actually used.
And Senator Menendez:
Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle call the scheme "the ownership society,” which means, today, you’re on your own. A strong belief in this scheme has left Senator McCain in the face of this crisis to repeat the same old claim yesterday that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Now, housing foreclosures are defying gravity and he continues to make statements that defy reality. Some great financial institutions collapse and Senator McCain is generally supported deregulation as the answer. That is like saying you want to take cops off of the street to deal with a riot.
Look at the consequences. When Lehman Brothers has to close, not only those 1,600 jobs in New Jersey at risk, but all of those who had mortgages, all of those who used a service, all of those who bought a product, the ripple effect for all of those who went out to eat — restaurants — all of those, in fact, who employed someone else to give them a service while they’re working, the ripple effect is very significant; very significant. And when people get their statements on their retirement — whether it be a 401(k) or a thrift savings or whatever — we’re going to see what that means to people in real lives. Some are going to look and say, I’m going to have to keep working. I’m going to have to keep working because I cannot continue this way.
Here is the video:
Refusing to police lenders and neglecting to protect consumers enabled the subprime crisis that has brought first the American economy and now Wall Street to its knees. Bush-McCain Republicans’ “anything goes” approach to governing cost Americans jobs and hurts the American taxpayer. With the economic news only getting worse each day, Democrats believe that we must urgently pass another economic recovery package.