McCain says he was misled, but not everyone agrees
John McCain says he was misled by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson into supporting the Wall Street bailout.
“We were all misled,” the Arizona Republican told NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the weekend.
Misled in what way?
With the economy showing every sign of burning to the ground, McCain says Paulson told Congress the Bush administration wanted to buy up toxic mortgages blamed for the conflagration. But he turned around and gave the money directly to Wall Street.
“Whoever thought that we would, when we passed that, we would own General Motors and Chrysler, GMAC? I mean, it’s beyond what anyone had anticipated,” McCain said.
Dick Durbin, a leading Senate Democrat, confirms part of the story: Paulson’s initial pitch was for money to buy up bad mortgages; then the focus switched to Wall Street’s balance sheets.
But Durbin, who like McCain has been in Congress for 28 years, says it’s difficult to see that as misleading.
“It’s hard to understand how John McCain could have been brainwashed by Hank Paulson,” the Illinois senator said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“The bottom line is, whether we were buying toxic assets or cleaning up their balance sheets, we were helping big banks and big insurance companies. We knew what all that was all about,” Durbin said.
“At the end of the day, hundreds of billions of dollars were going to stabilize Wall Street.”
McCain’s efforts to distance himself from the $700 billion TARP bailout may show how angry voters are about Washington’s willingness to help Wall Street during the worst recession since the 1930s, among other things.
Conservative voters, especially.
Now McCain is up for re-election and facing a serious primary challenge from conservative J.D. Hayworth, a former Republican congressman running with Tea Party support.
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Photo credit: Reuters/stringer (McCain), Reuters/Brendan McDermid (NYSE)