Saturday, October 17, 2015

Professor Limbaugh Fail: Rush Don't Know Glass-Steagall

Screenshot from Limbaugh's site.

I don't want to shock anyone, but the self-declared "Mayor of Realville" apparently really doesn't know what he's talking about.

The day after the first Democratic presidential debate, Rush Limbaugh
informed his audience that “Mr. Snerdley” had spent the morning hassling him for his ignorance about the Glass-Steagall Act:

Screen shot from Limbaugh archives

Not sure how “Professor” Limbaugh missed the six or so mentions of Glass-Steagall, and moderator Anderson Cooper’s good quick-and-dirty description to bring viewers up to speed, and all of the talking head discussion about it immediately after the debate.  But whatever. 

Limbaugh wasn't alone in not knowing what Glass-Steagall is, because in the dozen hours following the debate a number of news outlets produced primers on it -
here's one from The New York Times and another from CNN Money.  [Both (I believe) erroneously downplay the repeal's impact, but that's a whole other post.]

So plenty of smart, informed Americans don’t necessarily recognize “Glass-Steagall” off the top of their heads.  Fair enough.  We all have things that we do or don't dedicate our limited bandwidth to on top of all of the work stuff, family issues, health matters, bill paying, kids' needs, etc.  For instance, don't ask my opinion about some recent breakthrough in chemical engineering.  I'd be at a complete loss.

However, unlike Rush Limbaugh, most Americans aren't paid $79 million a year to pay attention to - and formulate opinions on - politics and policy.  Knowing about this stuff is kind of his job. 

Not to mention that “The Professor” has frequently and voluminously opined on the sources of the 2007-09 financial meltdown (obviously, it was all liberals’ fault) and possible policies to promote future financial stability (pretty much all of ‘em are terrible liberal power plays.)  Limbaugh’s specifically talked about the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial services reform act on
at least 59 different episodes in the past five years.   But still – he didn’t know what Glass-Steagall was?

The effect of Glass-Steagall’s 1999 repeal has been hotly debated for several years: in the aftermath of the financial meltdown, during the Dodd-Frank debate, and in the five years of wrangling since over the so-called Volcker Rule [the first batch of regulations to implement it were just finalized in July.]  There’s been quite a bit of disagreement among progressive experts about whether Glass-Steagall needs to be fully reinstated, with some noting that decades of dramatic changes in our financial markets requires a new, perhaps even more robust, regulatory approach.  Indeed, that’s the argument Hillary Clinton is making.

A year ago, Elizabeth Warren and three other Senators introduced The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.  Just this past July major media including
Fortune magazine, CNN, Washington Post, US News & World Report, Newsweek, Reutersheck, even the conservative National Reviewran pieces talking about the bill’s reintroduction.

But Limbaugh had to reacquaint himself with Glass-Steagall.

So what caused Rush’s memory lapse?  Is he
too busy worrying about Georgetown Law students' sex lives and making fun of Michelle Obama’s weight to pay attention to things that actually matter?  Is he too focused on churning out children’s books placing his alter ego, Rush Revere, at the center of various events in early American history?  Or maybe it’s just hard to focus on petty things like US economic stability when you’ve got a 2.2 acre Palm Beach estate with a mansion and four guest houses to manage, plus a cool half a mil in property taxes to pay on it each year.  All told, the man has a lot on his mind.

One would think Rush’s
$410 million in holdings would give him ample incentive to care about the stability of US markets.  Between 2007 and 2012, Limbaugh’s estate dropped from $48 million to $35 million in value.  It’s bounced back since, and is now valued at $50 million.  So maybe he figures he needn’t worry too much about the occasional massive, intractable recession.   

But out here in the REAL Realville, most of us don’t have a $410 million buffer against the storms unleashed by a financial crisis.  We all took some hits this last time, and plenty of us may never fully recover.  Thanks to the meltdown, millions of Americans lost their jobs, and the US economy lost
$14 to $30 trillion dollars.  Between 2003 and 2013, the typical American household saw their net worth drop from $87,992 to $56,335 – a 36% decline (all figures inflation-adjusted.)  And for us regular folks, you can add another $150,000 in lost lifetime wages per working-age adult to the damage.

Given the trauma wrought on most of us regular folks, you’d think that someone who wants to be our spokesperson, our “Professor,” and “The Mayor of Realville, if you will,” would take the time to acquaint himself with the myriad factors that led to that massive financial meltdown.  You’d think Rush would be paying attention to debate over policy fixes that might help prevent another one.  But he’s just revealed that he really, really doesn’t. 

Why bother critically examining these things when you’ve got some great conservative talking points that point to all the “liberals” who supposedly caused the financial crisis: minority mortgage borrowers, the Community Reinvestment Act, and – best of all – [formerly] quasi-governmental entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

So Rush parrots the talking points and lays all the blame at the liberal elitists’ feet.  Then he signs off, and pads on down the hallway to find one of his 19.5 bathrooms.

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