In the battle over Wall Street regulatory bona fides, Hillary Clinton is often at a disadvantage. She has accepted donations from Wall Street donors, and Sanders has not.
But at the Democratic debate in Charleston Sunday night, Clinton unearthed a part of Sanders' record on Wall Street regulations that seems -- at least at the outset -- to complicate his claim of being a crusader for more, rather than less regulation.
Specifically, she noted that Sanders voted in favor of The Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000.
"Well, the last point on this is, Senator Sanders, you're the only one on this stage that voted to deregulate the financial market in 2000, to take the cops off the street, to use Governor O'Malley's phrase, to make the SEC and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission no longer able to regulate swaps and derivatives, which were one of the main cause of the collapse in '08," Clinton said.
And she's right. But here's what she didn't say: Not only did President Bill Clinton sign that bill into law, but key officials in his administration were also credited with helping to craft it.
The Sunlight Foundation, as part of their "Read the Bill" effort to demystify the legislative process explained it this way:
Leading the charge in Congress were Sens. Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Rep. Thomas Ewing (R-IL). In May of 2000, Rep. Ewing introduced his Commodity Futures Modernization Act. While Ewing’s bill sailed quickly through the House, it stalled in the Senate, as Sen. Gramm desired stricter deregulatory language be inserted into the bill. Gramm opposed any language that could provide the SEC or the CFTC with any hope of authority in regulating or oversight of financial derivatives and swaps. Gramm’s opposition held the bill in limbo until Congress went into recess for the 2000 election.
Throughout the better part of the year Gramm, Lugar and Ewing worked with the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets—most specifically, Treasury Secretary [Larry] Summers, CFTC Chairman [William[ Rainer and SEC Chairman [Arthur] Levitt—to strike a deal on the bill.
The final version of the bill included stronger deregulatory language, but it isn't clear whether many lawmakers knew that it was in there. (This was around the time that the country was embroiled in a contentious presidential vote recount in Florida.)
The CFMA made its way through Congress on the back of a must-pass, 11,000-page bill to fund the government that year. This is where Sanders comes in, he joined a majority of Democrats and Republicans in approving the omnibus bill, which was signed into law by Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton has since said that he regrets that decision.