Today, in a stunning admission before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted "that he 'made a mistake' in trusting that free markets could regulate themselves without government oversight." Stunning because as the New York Times says, he was "once considered the infallible maestro of the financial system." Also a fervent proponent of deregulation, he now admits that his free-market ideology was not working.
This is not news to middle class Idahoans who have spent the last eight years waiting for the economic trickle to flow their way, but who are now facing increasingly sobering economic news, including nearly worthless retirement accounts, home foreclosures, layoffs and news that the state is now in recession.
Despite previously labeling the oversight hearings "political theater," Congressman Bill Sali (who is not shy about asserting that his free-market ideology is the solution for everything from gravity to health care), made the trip to Washington to join the hearings and even asked the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox, a question which included wondering if "somebody [was] going to go to jail." (Short answer is, apparently not.)
It's unclear what prompted Sali's return to D.C. for this hearing while preferring to skip others but perhaps it had something to do with this from Politico: "GOP 'goner' list warns of House rout," or maybe this from CNN: "Late-breaking House races shift political playing field."
Whatever the reason, it's a little late to be concerned about oversight now. Where was Congressman Sali when banks were lobbying for deregulation? Not sure, but he was taking their handouts. Where was Congressman Sali a year ago when Idahoans facing foreclosure could have used his vote to reduce taxes on their renegotiated mortgages? He voted "No." Where was Congressman Sali when Idahoans could have used some relief at the pump by reducing dependence on foreign oil and investing in alternative fuels? Well, he blustered a bit and voted "No" on that too while also taking oil company handouts.
Seems he was voting "No" a lot, actually. Here are just a tiny few:
- Bill Sali opposes aid to victims of torture. Bill passed 418-7.
- Bill Sali opposes easier access to small-business loans. Bill passed 380-45.
- Bill Sali opposes funding for scientific research. Bill passed 397-20.
- Bill Sali opposes restrictions on maritime pollution (359-48) and on dogfighting and cockfighting (368-39)
- Bill Sali opposes protection for whistleblowers. Bill passed 331-94.
- Bill Sali likes noxious weeds. Bill passed 390-10.
- Bill Sali opposes the National Science Foundation. Bill passed 399-17.
- Bill Sali opposes improving Head Start. Bill passed 365-48.
- Bill Sali opposes technology innovation. Bill passed 385-23.
- Bill Sali opposes putting more cops on the streets. Bill passed 381-34.
- Bill Sali voted against the 911 Commission's recommendations. Bill passed 371-40
Nothing wrong with voting "No" occasionally but Idaho's 1st District could have used someone looking out for them these last two years. It's a little late to be figuring that out.