Good morning. This is John McCain, speaking to you from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Here and all across our country, people are wondering what exactly is happening on Wall Street. And with good reason, they want to know how their government will meet the crisis. Clear answers are hard to come by in Washington.
There are certainly plenty of places to point fingers, and it may be hard to pinpoint the original event that set it all in motion. But let me give you an educated guess. The financial crisis we're living through today started with the corruption and manipulation of our home mortgage system. At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
These quasi-public corporations led our housing system down a path where quick profit was placed before sound finance. They institutionalized a system that rewarded forcing mortgages on people who couldn't afford them, while turning around and selling those bad mortgages to the banks that are now going bankrupt. Using money and influence, they prevented reforms that would have curbed their power and limited their ability to damage our economy. And now, as ever, the American taxpayers are left to pay the price for Washington's failure.
Two years ago, I called for reform of this corruption at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress did nothing. The Administration did nothing. Senator Obama did nothing, and actually profited from this system of abuse and scandal. While Fannie and Freddie were working to keep Congress away from their house of cards, Senator Obama was taking their money. He got more, in fact, than any other member of Congress, except for the Democratic chairman of the committee that oversees them.
This is the problem with Washington. People like Senator Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven't ever done a thing to actually challenge the system. The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was square in the middle of it.
The financial services industry -- and there are many honest and honorable people who work in it -- plays a vital role in our economy. Yet it's clear financial firms have lost the trust of the American people. Government has a clear responsibility to act and to defend the public interest. That is exactly what I intend to do.