Chris Matthews Nominates Bill Clinton as Treasury Secretary: 'It's a Life Saver'

July 25th, 2011 7:17 PM

Barack Obama might give Chris Matthews a thrill up his leg, but the bromance MSNBC's "Hardball" host has with former President Bill Clinton knows no bounds.

On Monday's program, Matthews finished by nominating Clinton as Secretary of the Treasury, "Because in many ways it’s a life saver" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with an idea. It’s a bigger one than usual because in many ways it’s a life saver: Bill Clinton as Secretary of the Treasury. Let me give you the case, although I think merely the thought of it is enough to make that case. The former President spends an hour a day right now trying to grasp the economic challenges facing our country and the world. He does it as a thoughtful person who realizes that the old campaign slogan of his, “It’s the economy, stupid,” is more vital than ever.

Yes, that indeed was candidate Clinton's campaign slogan in 1992, and with the help of a disturbingly complicit media, he was able to get away with it.

Despite what Clinton and his economically-challenged cronies thought at the time or continue to believe today, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession of the '90s ended in March 1991 well before the overwhelming majority of Americans had even heard of the governor of Arkansas.

The gross domestic product grew by 2.7 percent in the second quarter of that year, followed by 1.7 and 1.6 percent in the remaining quarters.

But that was just the beginning of the recovery, for in 1992, the GDP grew by 4.5 percent, 4.3 percent, 4.2 percent, and 4.3 percent in that year's quarters.

As such, the economic boom of the '90s began well before Clinton was inaugurated.

Almost as important, Clinton and his campaign staffers were routinely lying to the American people about how the economy was doing in order to get him elected.

Is this kind of economic dishonesty what America needs now?

According to Matthews, the answer is "Yes":

MATTHEWS: Here’s a man who presided over a fabulous economic period in American history before there was the disastrous Bush policies that brought us the catastrophe of 2008, long before there was the current job-poor recovery we saw daylight. We had new products out there. People wanted to buy them. We had new jobs, 23 million of them in the ’90s, and we had hope. Why not bring it back?

Bring it back?

Can we bring back the technological boom and associated stock market bubble far more responsible for the powerful economy of that decade than anything the government created? Did Clinton manufacture the products Americans bought during that boom or have anything to do with the ideas or the financing behind them?

Certainly not.

But biased nincompoops like Matthews believe Clinton created all those jobs as well as the wealth that came as a result:

MATTHEWS: The politics? Think about it. With Bill Clinton at Treasury and Hillary still at, Hillary Clinton still at State, President Obama would be in sterling shape to hold the Democrats next time and bring confidence to the political middle and perhaps given the weak Republican lineup poach some from the other Party next November. I recommend this appointment for the reason that the country needs a strong economic spokesman who can translate the complicated economy into words and experiences that the average American can grasp. Before we can recover, before we can find confidence to act, we need to know what we’re facing, what we’re overcoming, where our strengths are, and how we can succeed in this new world order.

I guess Matthews is forgetting that Clinton had a far greater role in causing the housing bubble and eventual financial collapse than likely any other single elected official in the nation.

Maybe the "Hardball" host missed this September 1999 article from the New York Times:

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. [...]

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.

''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

That's right: "increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people" pushed Fannie Mae to take on "significantly more risk" that "in an economic downturn" could force a "government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's."

Sound like what happened at the end of the last decade?

But of course, that was just the beginning, for two months later, Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 which removed the last Depression era Glass Steagall controls completely deregulating banks, securities firms, and insurance companies.

Thirteen months after that, Clinton signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 which completely deregulated financial derivatives.

These two pieces of legislation, combined with reduced lending requirements by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are largely what caused the financial services collapse in the previous decade.

Yet Matthews in his infinite wisdom wants the man at the center of all these decisions to now head up the Treasury department:

MATTHEWS: One person has the brains, the bona fides, the political moxie, the charm, and let’s face it, the hard economic track record to do it. Let’s bring back Bill and put him at Treasury where everything he’s done, learned, and achieved will work for him, the country, and our children’s future. On this idea, although it is my own, I say, “Hip, hip, hooray!”

How can a man so clueless of recent history - or willing to lie about it! - have not one but two television programs to badly misinform the public?

Thanks to NewsBuster Scott Whitlock for the opening bromance line.

*****Update: Matthews was so pleased with his idea that he published it at the Huffington Post Tuesday.