Thursday afternoon at 5:30, 1st District Republican congressional nominee Raul Labrador issued a three-page news release blasting Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick's June 30 vote for the financial reform law signed by the president Wednesday.
Three hours later, Minnick campaign manager John Foster responded in kind, in an e-mail to reporters with the subject line "Correcting Raul's financial illiteracy, plagiarism." Labrador's release was posted here at Idaho Politics in full at 6 p.m. Thursday.
For this morning's reading pleasure, here is Foster's reply, also in full:
Good evening -
Some of you may have received a lengthy press release earlier today from Raul Labrador, who attacked Congressman Walt Minnick for his vote to better regulate Wall Street.
As you know, Walt first voted for passage of the Financial Regulatory Reform Bill long ago. It was signed into law yesterday. Raul apparently decided to wait until this evening to weigh in with his thoughts. His release merits comment.
Here is a quote from me that you are free to use: "The people of Idaho clearly trust Walt Minnick's long experience as a successful businessman and community leader. I doubt they're interested in financial wisdom from Raul, whose immigration website business received a failing grade from the Better Business Bureau."
Next I'd like to analyze Raul's release. Let's start with his lifting of language from a story in the Washington Times.
Raul's press release says: "... makes it easier for unions, environmental groups and other 'social justice' groups to place their members on the boards of directors of every corporation in the country."
A July 14 story in the Washington Times says: "... make it easier for unions, environmental groups and other activist organizations that hold shares to put their representatives on the boards of directors of every corporation in the United States."
Labrador is apparently referring to what the Washington Times story calls "Proxy Access." That provision guarantees every shareholder and investor the right to nominate someone for election to the board of a publicly held company. However, according to Harvard Law School, the provision does not assure members of any interest group a seat on a corporate board.
It isn't the only glaring inaccuracy in Raul's release. He falsely claims that the Regulatory Reform Bill would impose "gender quotas on the nation's financial institutions."
In fact, according to the American Bankers Association, the new law merely directs existing federal agencies and their contractors to make sure that they are being inclusive and expansive in their own hiring. There is no mention of "gender quotas" for private financial institutions.
Next, Labrador says that "Most economists I've read believe that our current financial problems stem from the policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
While there is no disputing that the failures and subsequent bailouts of those organizations (which Walt Minnick opposed) were bad for the economy, they clearly were not the sole or main cause of the economic recession. Before making such simplistic statements, perhaps Labrador should have listened to a different trained economist -- someone with some actual business experience.
Labrador said the bill "is the last thing we need." Feel free to also use this quote from me: "Raul should have the courage to say that to the thousands of Idahoans who lost their retirement due to greedy speculators and hedge-fund managers rigging the game. Idahoans expect reform, not the do-nothing approach Raul seems to favor."
Finally, I found on Walt's congressional website an
excellent editorial he penned last year about the legislation:
Here is a snippet:
Like most Idahoans, I believe that no business is too big to fail, and that everyone should play by the same rules. However, over the last year we taxpayers were forced to shell out billions in bailouts for people who knew their companies wouldn’t fail, and who knew that they could get away with paying themselves huge bonuses, regardless of earnings.
Main Street suffered, while those on Wall Street who caused the problem made out like bandits. The game was rigged and the taxpayers lost – lost jobs, tax dollars and faith in our financial system – in a way that only amplifies the anger we all feel.
Thankfully, things are about to change.
After a year of work, Congress is about to consider a comprehensive overhaul of the regulations governing our nation’s financial systems. The bill will be debated on the floor in the coming week, and I very much hope it will pass with a broad bipartisan majority.
I will vote for it in part because I am privileged to have been given the chance to craft key pieces of this legislation. One of the reasons the people of Idaho gave me an opportunity to serve in Congress is because they thought my 35 years of business experience might prove useful in helping move our country in the right direction.
For example, when I was running an Idaho forest products company, we could purchase currency futures or other derivatives to protect the company from changes in interest rates or big price shifts in Canadian timber. But over the last 10 years I watched as Wall Street speculators, betting with other people’s money, mutated and abused derivatives without worry or fear of federal regulation.
The consequence of this and other Wall Street excess was to force taxpayer bailouts of one failing firm after another, and to plunge the economy into the worst recession in 25 years. But passing the bill Congress will take up next week will keep that from ever happening again.