Remember when John McCain’s economic guru, Phil Gramm, got in trouble for saying that Americans were whining about a financial mess that the Republican nominee for president now says is “a crisis”? McCain grudgingly parted company with Gramm, only to have the former senator from Wall Street (via Texas) show up at the Republican National Convention as a VIP guest of, you guessed it, the McCain campaign.
Well, now, McCain is attacking Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Chris Cox.
Speaking in Iowa, the Republican candidate savaged Cox, saying, “The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president. And in my view has betrayed the public trust.has betrayed the public’s trust.”
McCain, who is scrambling to distance himself from the Bush administration financial-services policies and so-called regulators that he once supported, added: “If I were president today, I would fire him.”
Someone on McCain’s staff will have to inform him that president’s cannot “fire” SEC chairs — the heads of independent regulatory commissions, once their presidential nominations are confirmed by the Senate, serve terms that they are allowed to finish. At the most, McCain could merely pressure Cox to quit.
That is, undoubtedly, a good idea.
It would also be a new one for McCain.
Cox, a former California congressman who worked closely with McCain on a number of issues when McCain’s Senate Commerce Committee chairmanship coincided with Cox’s House Eneregy and Commerce Committee asignment, and who was recently boomed as a prospective vice-presidential running mate for the Republican, will be excused if he feels like he is the one who has been betrayed.
Cox’s nomination to serve was considered by the Senate in the summer of 2005, at a time when McCain was positioned, as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, to raise any concerns he might have had — and even to hold hearings — about the selection. As McCain, himself, bragged this week: “I understand the economy. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights every part of our economy.”
While that statement was a bit of a stretch, it is reasonable to suggest that the Commerce Committee chair could have identified an opening (perhaps through the committee’s responsibility for overseeing interstate commerce) to hold a hearing and raise concerns about Cox.