WASHINGTON D.C. (CN) – Sen. John McCain on Thursday blamed the ongoing financial crisis on SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, saying he would fire Cox if elected President, despite the fact that firing the SEC chairman is not within the power of the President, that regulating the mortgage markets is the job of the Federal Reserve, not the SEC, and, as Cox noted, it is not the best time to rattle the market.
“The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president and in my view has betrayed the public’s trust. If I were president today, I would fire him” said McCain.
Cox answered: “What America and the world needs now is steadiness and reduction of uncertainty. And it is precisely the wrong moment for a change in leadership that inevitably would disrupt the work of the SEC at just the wrong time.”
While McCain blamed Cox for failing to regulate Wall Street, Sen. Jim Bunning noted in an interview on Fox TV that the SEC is not in charge of watching the mortgage markets. “I’m a little shocked because Chris Cox’s responsibility is not watching the mortgage markets,” Bunning said in the television interview. “That’s the Federal Reserve’s job.”
In addition, the chairman of the SEC is appointed by the president and serves a five-year term. It is customary, but not required, that the chairman resign when asked by the president.
In response, Cox issued a same-day statement highlighting the achievements of the SEC since his nomination to the post in August of 2005. He said he would not be distracted by political bickering.
“While I have great respect for Senator McCain, we have sometimes disagreed, and this is one such occasion,” said Cox. “History will judge the quality of our response to this economic crisis, but now is not the time for those of us in the trenches to be distracted by the ebb and flow of the current election campaign.”