John Stossel
Bill Clinton got rave reviews for his speech at the Democratic National Convention. My wife said: “Clinton was great. He made Republicans look like liars and losers.” Clinton, now a sainted elder statesman, also gets credit for the booming economy of the ‘90s.

Today, he appears in an Obama commercial -- in full “I feel your pain” mode -- saying that Obama “has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up.”

When someone claims anyone can rebuild a society from the ground up, I say he is arrogant and delusional.

Clinton then tries to scare viewers by telling them that Republicans want to “go back to deregulation. That’s what got us in trouble in the first place.”

Ah, the progressives’ George W. Bush deregulation myth: Bush’s anti-regulation crusade caused our problems. This is a lie that seems true because of constant media repetition. In fact, Bush talked deregulation but vastly increased the regulatory state. He hired an astounding 90,000 new regulators. Under Democrats and Republicans, regulation grows.

A rare exception was repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which forbade financial companies from offering both commercial and investment banking services. You know who signed that?

Bill Clinton.

He was right to sign it (backed by Treasury Secretary and later Obama adviser Larry Summers) because outlawing full-service banking put American banks at a competitive disadvantage.

Five years earlier, Clinton supported the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act, which finally legalized interstate branch banking. Federal and state laws that forbade intrastate and interstate branch banking -- that is, diversification -- were one of the worst features of American finance. They made banks highly vulnerable to failure of specific business centers and farm communities, helping to make the Great Depression what it was. (By contrast, Canada had no such restrictions and no bank failures.)

So Clinton -- not Bush -- was the bank deregulator. Were those acts responsible for the financial debacle of 2008? No. Bear Stearns, Lehman, etc. were not affiliated with commercial banks.

Banks got in trouble because they filled their portfolios with securities built on shaky mortgages. And here is where Clinton does bear responsibility.

His secretary of housing and urban development was Andrew Cuomo, now governor of New York and apparent presidential wannabe.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate