Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that the Clintons aren't just responsible for the 1990s economic boom, but also the more recent financial meltdown.
Perry traveled to New York to offer his argument for reforming Wall Street at an event hosted by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. The committee includes influential conservatives who promote pro-growth policies, such as Steve Forbes, Stephen Moore, Larry Kudlow and Art Laffer.
The 2016 Republican presidential candidate wasted little time tracing the root of the financial crisis to the Clinton administration of the 1990s. The former governor who oversaw Texas' vast economic expansion said the financial crisis has "screwed" the American people, and Wall Street must not be let off the hook. But at the Yale Club in New York City, Perry focused much of his criticism on bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
"I am tired of politicians bashing Wall Street while ignoring the sins of Washington, D.C.," Perry said. "It was Washington regulators who fell asleep at the switch. It was Washington politicians who changed laws that created the housing crisis. The roots of the financial crisis can be traced to the 1990s."
"If Secretary Clinton wants to take credit for the 'Clinton economy,' then she must defend the destructive homeownership policies advocated by her husband that pushed shoddy loans to people who couldn't afford them, and the economic chaos that followed."
Perry called for reforms that would work to end "too big to fail" policies, and pledged not to bail out a single bank on Wall Street if elected president. The governor called for leveling the playing field between large and small banks, and said the federal government needs to advance "smart regulations" that ensure banks are less likely to fail.
He pointed to recent action taken by the Federal Reserve, to place additional capital requirements on "Global Systemically Important Banks," as a step in the right direction.
Perry's other specific policy proposals included making access to credit easier for "Main Street," creating "regulatory breathing room" for digital currencies such as Bitcoin and replacing Dodd-Frank regulations' "orderly liquidation authority with a true orderly bankruptcy process." He also called on Congress to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-financing giants.
"If we do these things — if we end too big to fail, and stabilize our housing markets — we will have come a long way in restoring Americans' faith in the ability of the free market economy to work for them," Perry said. "Democrats have this 1915 view of a 2015 economy. The problem is they are building a toll bridge to the 21st Century, with higher healthcare costs for employers, a higher cost of living for single moms in blue states."
Perry argued that growth was the answer to several of society's ills, and pointed to his record in Texas — claiming the addition of 1.5 million jobs from 2007-14 — as evidence that he is capable of managing the federal government's role in the American economy.
"We have a lot of Washington insiders running for president," Perry said. "But I will suggest to you true change can only come in the form of an outsider, with the leadership of a governor who was not one vote out of 100, but one out of one when a bill came to his desk. We need someone not beholden to Washington interests and mega-banks to lead the country and change the culture ... I know what it takes."