Rep. Foxx Blames Dems For Economic Crisis

July 22, 2010 11:36 am ET — Alan Pyke

During a floor debate yesterday on long-term unemployment benefits, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) argued that Democrats are solely to blame for everything that's happened in the economy since January 2007, when Congress came under Democratic control. Rep. Foxx insisted that the economic collapse triggered by the bursting bubble in the housing market was not President Bush's fault. "I know our colleagues again continue to want to rewrite history, but it's just not something we're going to let you do," Foxx said. "The job losses came on your watch."

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It makes perfect sense that Republicans are desperate to avoid blame for the recession, and Democratic victories in 2006 make a handy backdrop for GOP finger-pointing. But reality just doesn't support Foxx's claim that "It is Democrat policies which have created the problems, not the Republican policies."

Success has many fathers, they say, but failure's an orphan. The subprime lending crisis that came to a head in 2007 and sparked this massive recession represents a massive and complicated tapestry of failures. The Economist called it "a genuinely democratic [crisis], with hard-working homeowners and billionaire villains each playing a role." Time drew up a list of "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis," and populated it with 16 Wall Street executives, a handful of government bankers, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Phil Gramm, Bush's appointees to head the SEC and the Treasury Department — and still found room for "The American Consumer."

Phil Gramm makes the list because his landmark legislation repealed the Depression-era law that had separated commercial banking from investment banking. That massive deregulation made Citigroup (and "too big to fail") possible. It also meant that government regulators had an even bigger responsibility to enforce existing regulations against predatory lending. Those regulators, Bush appointees all, failed to control Wall Street.

So Republicans are casting about for some argument, any argument, to prove it's all Democrats' fault. First they went the complex route, asserting in various speeches and press releases that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the whole bubble (in fact, they didn't).

Now they're trying a very simple argument: The economic bubble that grew on Republicans' watch didn't burst until the Democrats stood to post, so it must be the Democrats' fault. That's like blaming the violence and ugliness that attended civil rights marches on Kennedy and LBJ because they happened to be in charge, and ignoring the centuries of oppression that led up to that unrest.

Rep. Foxx's version of events is based on a common fallacy: post hoc, ergo propter hoc — After this, therefore because of this.

Yes, the subprime crisis and the ensuing financial collapse came chronologically after Democrats took control of Congress in 2007. No, they did not happen because Democrats took control. Foxx needs to provide some evidence for her theory, because voters know who brought us this economy: President Bush and the Republican Party.

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