FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

John McCain and the Company He Keeps

Yesterday, the US EPA—the nation’s top environmental agency– decided that regulating the movement of polluted water from one water body to another: from a river or stream, by pump, to canal or to Florida’s Everglades is not a federal responsibility.

“In a decision with national implications that appears to defy a 2006 ruling by a Miami federal court judge, the EPA announced it would not require federal permits for “transfers” of water from one body to another for water-supply, flood-control, irrigation and other common purposes—no matter how dirty that water might be.” (Miami Herald, “EPA refuses to limit dirty-water transfers”, June 10, 2008)

The State of Florida, through its water management district in South Florida, approved. Why would that be?

The answer is simple: top business leaders in Florida long ago decided to fuel future growth of cities and suburbs by moving water from so-called surplus areas to areas that overdeveloped and tapped out, cheaply available fresh water supplies. Moving water through costly energy and engineering-intensive industrial water supply and polishing infrastructure is a political gold mine, with spigots all along the way.

This spigot effect of growth depends on avoiding the costs of pollution; the same is also true of Wall Street.

Congress and the White House allowed the proliferation of toxic debt to move from one body—like a pool of mortgages containing lots of liar loans—to another body—like derivatives and insurance measured in the trillions, putting ratings agencies in the same role as EPA: on the side of polluters as a matter of political expediency and reward.

There is nothing, then, coincidental in the emergence of Florida’s Al Hoffman as a top fundraiser for McCain’s presidential campaign or of former Senator Phil Gramm, as top economic advisor.

Hoffman was a major Florida developer: his company, WCI Communities Inc., was a high flyer in the run up to the housing bust. Like other multi-millionaires minted from development, Hoffman salted away enough from platted subdivisions and condo mishaps, cratering now in someone else’s balance sheet, to skate through the aftermath. In 2003, Hoffman crowed to The Washington Post that suburban sprawl was “an unstoppable force.” Last year, his former company could scarcely find a buyer.

In 1998 and 2002, Hoffman was finance chair for Jeb Bush campaigns as governor. He was also finance co-chair of the 2000 George W. Bush campaign. In 2001 Governor Jeb Bush appointed Hoffman to be chairman of the state’s business planning organization, The Council of 100. Hoffman lead the Council to the outcome that Governor Jeb Bush had decided long before: to promote state policies enabling the transfer of water supply from one area of the state to another.

Of the EPA decision yesterday, an environmental attorney told The Miami Herald: “Instead of stepping in to tighten clean-water protections and clean up the pollution the EPA has now chosen to legalize it. It is shameful.”.

So, too, is it shameful that the Federal Reserve opened its window to private banking and financial institutions, mainly operated by Republican loyalists, suddenly buried under tens and hundreds of billions in losses.  The Bush White House calls the direct loans to private banks a necessary step for the stability of the nation’s financial system. The free flow of toxic debt, with scarcely any regulation at all, has triggered the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression. Banks are scurrying to foreign governments—some hostile to US policies—for infusions of capital.

One of the key players behind the Wall Street greed leading up to the crisis of the US economy is another McCain advisor, former Texas Senator Phil Gramm. While Senator and chairman of the powerful US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Gramm presided over and later lobbied for relaxation of supervision and regulatory oversight of the nation’s financial engineers, including hedge funds and the magical confections of debt and insurance arrangements on toxic debt that rained billions in fees and commissions on their originators. Between 1992 and 2000, he received over $1 million in campaign contributions from Wall Street.

Gramm, today, is a vice-chairman of UBS, the European bank hardest hit with untold billions in losses from investments in the US mortgage and derivatives markets. According to Bloomberg, UBS shareholders have lost nearly half their value this year. (“UBS Falls After Saying More Mortgage Losses Possible”, May 28, 2008, Bloomberg)

EPA’s rubber stamping of pollution, allowing unsustainable growth policies in important states like Florida to move forward, is to the environment as the willful federal abrogation of supervision of exotic debt instruments is to the world economy. Allowing polluted water to move from one water body to another, without limits or interference by laws, is no different from what is occurring in the vast, trillion dollar credit markets under unparalleled pressure.

That the Republican Party, the presumptive party of fiscal conservatism, presided over the deterioration of meaning and contracts and law is astounding. So when Senator John McCain claims that his presidency will be different—that he is “a fiscal conservative”—he invites incredulity.

In the 1980’s, Senator McCain nearly ruined his political career by rushing to defend Charles Keating, a big campaign contributor and then a powerful banker wrapped up in fraud and racketeering charges during the Savings and Loan debacle.

With Hoffman and Gramm at his side today–McCain can hardly claim he learned from experience. We are certainly poorer for it.

ALAN FARAGO lives in south Florida. He can be reached at: afarago@bellsouth.net

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail