If you watched Sunday’s Democratic debate, you learned something interesting about Bernie Sanders: he voted for the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, something Hillary Clinton was all too eager to point out when the two of them got to talking about Wall Street reform.
Sounds pretty bad, right? The guy who goes on and on about how bad Wall Street is actually voted for the bill that crashed economy. So much for all that “political revolution” stuff.
But here’s the thing: Hillary Clinton isn’t telling a true story about Bernie Sanders and his vote for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, or CFMA.
As Robert Scheer has pointed out over at Truthdig, then-Congressman Sanders voted for the CFMA, not because he wanted to, but because he had to.
The CFMA had been shoved into an omnibus spending bill at the last minute as part of a deal between Republicans and President Bill Clinton, and because this was a time when, you know, Congress actually did its job, Sanders bit the bullet and voted for the whole package – CFMA included – to keep the government open.
Only four members of Congress ended up opposing the final spending bill that included the CFMA, and one of them was Ron Paul, who opposed pretty much every spending bill. But that’s just of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how dishonest Clinton was being when she called Bernie out for voting for the CFMA.
Even if Bernie had a good reason to vote for that omnibus spending bill – like preventing a government shutdown – Sanders was angry that he been forced into deregulating Wall Street.
And so he struck back hard in 2008, when President-elect Obama picked former Treasury official and Goldmans Sachs bankster Gary Gensler to head up the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC.
During his time at the Treasury, Gensler had pushed hard for Wall Street deregulation and even helped write the CFMA, something now-Senator Bernie Sanders found unacceptable. And so Bernie moved to block Gensler’s nomination. Sanders explained his actions during an appearance on Democracy Now.
Although Sanders did succeed in blocking Gensler’s nomination, the victory was short-lived: The hold was only temporary, and the Senate ended up approving Gensler as head of the CFTC on March 16, 2009. He held that post until 2014, when he was succeeded by Timothy Massad.
So what’s Gary Gensler – the guy who promoted the CFMA – up to today? Oh, you know, nothing big. He’s just the chief financial officer of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Yep, that’s right, the CFO of the Hillary Clinton Campaign!
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” you might be thinking to yourself, “didn’t Hillary Clinton just attack Bernie Sanders for voting for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act? Can she seriously go after him for that when her CFO is the guy who helped write it?”
Well, she did and she can.
This is what the Clintons do: they play dirty. But that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t make it good for the Democratic Party.
One of the really admirable things about the Democratic race for president so far has been the absence of the kind of nasty, dirty politics that we see all too often on the other side of the aisle among Republicans.
As a candidate running for major office, Hillary Clinton has every right to point out her opponent’s track record on key issues. But she should do it honestly. She should do so in a way that enlightens the public instead of confusing it.
If her dishonest attack on Bernie Sanders’s CFMA vote is just a preview of where the Clinton campaign intends to take this race, we’re in for a long and very distressing primary season.