Have you noticed that the right wing has suddenly grown almost silent over how Bill Clinton and the Democrats were the real cause behind the Enron scandal?
You heard it constantly for a day or two, or three, from the usual gang at the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Faux, not to mention various corporate-sponsored right-wing vanity sites.
And you still hear echoes of it from the likes of CNN's Jonathan Karl -- a conservative who regularly lets his partisanship show, most recently in his biased attack on Senator Fritz Hollings.
But, mostly, there is silence where once there was noise.
Clinton and the Democrats did not cause the Enron disaster.
The Clinton Administration tried to PREVENT disasters like Enron from occurring -- and were stopped by the deregulation-crazed, corporate shill Republicans.
Here's a handy guide on the subject, with half-a-dozen of the bigger reasons why the right wing has suddenly gone missing on this matter. Download it and send it to your friends -- and to anyone out there who still thinks it's possible to fob this Republican scandal off onto Bill Clinton and the Democrats.
How the Clinton Administration and the Democrats Tried to Prevent the Enron Disaster from Happening
1) Stopping Auditor-Consulting Conflicts by Accountants
In 2000, Clinton Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Arthur Levitt, Jr. proposed regulations to prohibit accounting firms from simultaneously serving as consultants and auditors. Arthur Andersen and other accounting firms mounted a massive lobbying campaign against the Clinton-Levitt regulations, killing them. The lead lobbyist for the accounting firms was Harvey Pitt. After being sworn in as President, George W. Bush named Pitt chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
2) Greater Disclosure of Energy Derivatives
In 1997, Bill Clintons Commodities Futures Trading Commission Chair Brooksley Born proposed greater regulation (by way of more stringent disclosure) of energy derivatives, the key financial instrument in Enron's Ponzi-scheme empire. Her proposal was beaten back by House Republicans, including then-House Banking Committee Chair Jim Leach (R-IA) who scolded her for two hours at a hearing.
3) Oversight of Energy Traders
In 2000, William Rainier, Born's successor as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, told Congress that he was "deeply concerned" about a bill to exempt energy trading from CFTC review, noting that those who trade energy derivatives were not subject to any other oversight. Rainer's objections were largely ignored by the Republican-controlled Congress, and the exemption, heavily backed by Enron, became law.
4) Cracking Down on Tax Havens
In 2000, Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers proposed a crackdown on tax havens such as those used by Enron. With the US co-chairing the OECD's Forum on Harmful Tax Practices, Summers crusaded for a crackdown on money-laundering and tax havens. His proposal was opposed by the GOP Congress. When the Bush Administration took office, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill abandoned Summers' crusade, telling the Wall Street Journal, "The government has not been respectful of the cost it imposes on society." The New York Times reported that Bush's top economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey (a former economic adviser to Enron) also opposed efforts to crack down on tax havens.
5) Protecting 401(k)s
In 1997: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) proposed banning investment of more than 10 percent of the total 401(k) plan in the employer's stock--the maximum that investment experts recommend a person sink into any company. The GOP Senate watered down her bill so much it no longer applied to any corporation in America;
6) Protecting Investors and Shareholders
On December 20, 1995, President Clinton vetoed the Public Securities Litigation Reform Act, which would have restricted lawsuits against corporation accused of securities fraud. In his veto message, Clinton presciently noted that while he supported the notion of reducing frivolous lawsuits: "I am not, however, willing to sign legislation that will have the effect of closing the courthouse door on investors who have legitimate claims. Those who are the victims of fraud should have recourse in our courts. Our markets are as strong and effective as they are because they operate -- and are seen to operate -- with integrity. I believe that this bill, as modified in conference, could erode this crucial basis of our markets' strength." The GOP Congress overrode Clinton's veto.
Wendy Gramm, wife of Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm also aided Enron’s rise to power. As the lame-duck chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, she pushed through a key regulatory exemption on Jan. 14, 1993, six days before Clinton took office. Five weeks later, she joined Enron’s board of directors.
"The exemption was passed over the objection of the Clinton administration."
What's that you say, WSJ? MSNBC? FOX? CNN? Clinton was to blame?