Thursday, November 18, 2004

T.R. Spitzer

The Moose offers a hearty "Bully!" for the Attorney General of New York.

An alert Mooseketeer brought to the Moose's attention a smart critique of the Bush/Rove Ownership Society penned by Eliot Spitzer in the New Republic. Spitzer makes the salient point that while the Republicans speak of a society where any American can accumulate wealth,

they pursue policies that undermine the values they claim to represent. Take the following three recent scandals: conflicts of interest among Wall Street analysts, who duped small investors with tainted research; predatory lending, which imposed illegal and unconscionable mortgages on homeowners; and illegal practices of mutual-fund traders, who skimmed billions from people saving for their kids' college tuitions and their own retirements. In each of these situations, the Bush administration and congressional Republicans not only impeded the investigations but actually proposed legislation that would preempt the ability of state regulators to combat the problems.

Spitzer then makes the case for a role for government in ensuring that wealth creating institutions do not violate the public trust,

Democrats have to explain why the government must act when the markets are manipulated and working people are harmed. Teddy Roosevelt understood this nearly a century ago. His trust-busting and environmental activism were meant both to protect citizens and to restore the integrity of the markets. He said, "We demand that big business give people a square deal; in return, we must insist that, when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right, he shall himself be given a square deal."

Instead of fighting for a square deal for all, Republicans today place corporate interests ahead of consumer interests. When regulators, such as those in my office, try to call them on their cronyism, they portray our efforts as bureaucratic meddling in free markets. But we did not investigate Wall Street because we were troubled by large institutions making a lot of money; we took action to stop a blatant fraud that was ripping off small investors. We sought to right the wrong, reestablishing the level playing field that is a prerequisite to market competition and ensuring that every investor enjoys the same opportunity to profit that the insiders have.

The challenge for the donkey is to be both for wealth creation and reform. For instance, Spitzer advocates reforming the mutual-fund industry to protect investors.

The Norquist crowd talks a lot about the Ownership Society - but what they have in mind is corporate cronyism corrupting government. In contrast, the Bull Moose is a reform advocate for prosperity with transparency.
-- Posted at 8:04 AM | Link to this post | Email this post