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.
First, to deal with the immediate crisis, I will lead in the creation of the Mortgage and Financial Institutions trust -- the MFI. The underlying principle of the MFI or any approach considered by Congress should be to keep people in their homes and safeguard the life savings of all Americans by protecting our financial system and capital markets. The MFI is an early intervention program to help financial institutions avoid bankruptcy, expensive bailouts and damage to their customers. This will get the Treasury and other financial regulatory authorities in a proactive position instead of reacting in a crisis mode to one situation after another.
Second, I will propose and sign into law reforms to prevent financial firms from concealing their bad practices. Americans have a right to know when their jobs, pensions, IRAs, investments, and whole economy are being put at risk by the recklessness of Wall Street. And under my reforms, that fundamental right will be protected.
Third, we need regulatory clarity. The current system promotes confusion, encourages bureaucratic infighting and creates incentives for financial firms to cut corners. We don't need a dozen federal agencies doing the job badly -- we need the best federal agencies to do the job right.
Fourth, our regulatory system must protect consumers and investors by punishing individuals who engage in fraud, break contracts, or lie to customers. On my watch, the consequences for corporate abuse will not be more enrichment, but more likely an indictment.
Fifth, in cases where failing companies seek taxpayer bailouts, the Treasury Department will follow consistent policies in deciding whether to guarantee loans. It must have well developed remedies for a financial crisis. With billions of dollars in public money at stake, it will not do to keep making it up as we go along.
Finally, the Federal Reserve should get back to its core business of responsibly managing our money supply and inflation. It needs to get out of the business of bailouts. The Fed needs to return to protecting the purchasing power of the dollar. A strong dollar will reduce energy and food prices. It will stimulate sustainable economic growth and get this economy moving again.
All of these measures will calm and help us to avoid future panics and disasters in the financial markets. And great reforms on this scale will require the best in the leadership of both political parties. We face very serious problems in the financial markets, and partisan bickering will get us exactly nowhere. It took members of both parties to get America into this mess, and it will take all of us, working together, to find a way out.
Thanks for listening.