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Former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan appeared before lawmakers Thursday and admitted his long-held anti-regulation views are flawed. Speaking before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Greenspan said he had erred in seeing markets as self-disciplining.
Alan Greenspan: “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interest of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."
During his Fed stint, Greenspan rejected a series of regulatory measures critics say could have helped prevent the economic crisis.
On the campaign trail, a series of new polls show an increasing lead for Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain. Several polls show Obama ahead in key battleground states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. Nate Silver of the polling website FiveThirtyEight.com says McCain’s chance of winning the election has dwindled down to 3.7 percent, down from 6.5 percent. On Thursday, Obama campaigned in Indiana.
Sen. Barack Obama: "More tax cuts for jobs outsourcing, that’s what Senator McCain proposed as his answer to outsourcing. He said that’s, quote, 'simple fundamental economics.' Well, Indiana, my opponent may call that 'fundamental economics,' but we know that’s just another name for Wall Street first, Main Street last. That’s the kind of economic philosophy we’ve had for the past eight years. And that’s fundamentally wrong."
McCain was in Florida, where he continued to invoke "Joe the Plumber" to portray Obama as a "tax and spend" Democrat.
Sen. John McCain: "He believes in redistributing the wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans. Senator Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than he is in growing the pie. You know, whether it’s Joe the plumber in Ohio or Joe over here — thank you, Joe, Joe, thank you; there’s Joes all over here, small business owners I met with this morning here in Florida — we shouldn’t be taxing our small businesses more, as Senator Obama wants to do."
Obama,meanwhile, has picked up the endorsement of another former Bush administration official. Days after former Secretary of State Colin Powell gave his backing, former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told CNN’s D.L. Hughley he’ll also be voting for Obama.
Scott McClellan: "From the very beginning, I’ve said I’m going to support the candidate that has the best chance of changing the way Washington works and getting things done. I will be voting for Barack Obama."
Earlier this year, McClellan broke ranks and criticized the White House over the war in Iraq, the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. Obama received another Republican endorsement Thursday from CC Goldwater, the granddaughter of former Republican senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.
Meanwhile, Republicans have been dealt new setbacks in seeking to block thousands of people from voting on Election Day. The website AlterNet.org reports Republicans lost court challenges in three key states Thursday. In Ohio and Wisconsin, judges rejected suits seeking a re-certification of those voters whose records don’t match other government databases. And in Nevada, a judge denied a Republican attempt seeking to prevent voters from correcting registration information at the polls.
Meanwhile, a group of voter and civil rights groups have sued the State of Pennsylvania to demand emergency paper ballots be distributed when 50 percent or more electronic voting machines become inoperable at any polling site in the state. The lawsuit was filed after Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State ordered counties to provide emergency paper ballots only if every electronic voting machine breaks down at a voting site. The plaintiffs include the NAACP, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and Voter Action. More on the lawsuit later in the broadcast.
The community organizing group ACORN has revised the tally from a major national voter registration drive. ACORN affiliate Project Vote says the campaign signed up 450,000 voters, not the 1.3 million the group initially claimed. The remainder is made up by either registered voters who have changed their address and another 400,000 rejected on several grounds.
In Iraq, protests continue against the proposed security pact that would allow US forces to stay in Iraq for at least three more years. On Thursday, lawmakers with the Sadr bloc held a sit-in against the current proposals.
Fawzi Akram: "It is a clear message to the Iraqi government, US government, the occupation and to all the honest and patriotic people who work for the sake of Iraq’s unity, land, people, flag and sovereignty, those who work for what is right and just, to join us and make Iraq’s sovereignty and national interest above all."
The draft calls for a full US withdrawal by 2012, but leaves open the possibility of a later date. US soldiers would also retain immunity from prosecution for all actions except those committed "off-duty" and not in combat. Critics have dismissed the provision, because US troops seldom leave their bases in Iraq unless on authorized missions.
In Colombia, tens of thousands of indigenous Colombians continue their national march against the government of President Alvaro Uribe. The crowd set out Thursday, just hours after Uribe admitted police officers fired on them in a protest earlier this week. Indigenous leader Lorenzo Muelas denounced Uribe.
Lorenzo Muelas: "President Uribe is not a friend of the indigenous groups. We know that many of the laws he passes through congress are anti-indigenous."
In other news from Colombia, Uribe’s top intelligence chief has resigned after acknowledging her agency spied on some of Uribe’s political opponents. DAS head Maria del Pilar Hurtado blamed the spying on individual agents. But opposition senator Gustavo Petro said the order likely came from Uribe.
Gustavo Petro: "Who else could have given that order, if it wasn’t the intelligence chief? That is the question that the Colombian president, who is directly responsible for the police security administrative department, should give us in order to satisfy our demands to make a real democracy in Colombia and not the military state that seems to be what is happening in Colombia."
Meanwhile, at least five people were injured in a series of small explosions around the capital Bogota on Thursday.
In Mexico, lawmakers have approved a measure that would allow private involvement in the nationalized oil sector. Former Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador led protests against the vote. He called the move a setback for Mexico.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: "It’s an important moment in the history of the country, because we don’t accept handing over Mexican territory to foreign companies to exploit and drill oil wells."
Back in the United States, the White House says it will revive a major crackdown on undocumented immigrants in President Bush’s remaining months. The administration will seek court approval to ask hundreds of thousands of employers to validate some 8.7 million Social Security numbers. The directive will tell the employers to resolve discrepancies or fire the workers within ninety days.
And here in New York, the city council has voted to undo term limits that would have barred Mayor Michael Bloomberg from seeking re-election. The term limits have twice been approved in referenda by New York voters. Opponents are planning a legal challenge.