WASHINGTON — Republicans criticized a government report on the causes of the 2008 financial crisis as biased and political on Wednesday. Democrats fired back that Republicans want to roll back federal regulations of the financial industry.
The partisan fencing came as the House Financial Services Committee examined a study issued last month that concluded that the near economic collapse was avoidable and was caused by a range of failures by the financial industry and their federal regulators. The differences between lawmakers of the two parties underscored the gap between them as the GOP-run House begins a year in which one goal is to block new regulations required by the financial overhaul law that Democrats and President Barack Obama enacted last summer.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's report was endorsed by the panel's six Democratic commissioners. Its four Republicans dissented, saying the study ignored factors like federal policies encouraging home ownership and high-risk subprime loans.
Rep. Robert Dold, R-Ill., said Democrats used the report "to support pre-established political philosophies." Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., said "some members of this commission were more interested in following an ideological agenda."
Some of the harshest criticism came from former Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., who was the top Republican on the commission.
"From the beginning, I thought that the commission was created for political purposes," Thomas told the committee. He said commission staff used their time "to find gotcha documents to support provocative headlines," and that information was leaked to embarrass commission Republicans.
"When you have the votes, what else matters?" Thomas said.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said GOP criticisms were an attempt to undermine the financial overhaul law and "return the financial services industry to a nostalgic age" of less regulation. The committee's top Democrat, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., echoed that and said a Republican-written budget-cutting bill the House is debating — which would cut funds for financial regulators — would be "a re-deregulation of the economy."
The commission's chairman and top Democrat, former California state treasurer Phil Angelides, said the report was written fairly. He said full implantation of the financial overhaul law "is critical and will help prevent a future crisis."