The rhetoric of the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns has recently become harsher. Both sides have additionally issued highly misleading TV advertisements. The media have devoted significant attention to these controversies while sometimes failing to address underlying policy differences. Financial and healthcare reform notably deserve closer attention than they have received as of late.
Vice President Joe Biden has faced criticism for telling a racially diverse audience that, if Mitt Romney were elected president, he would "let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street" and "put you all back in chains." The Romney campaign took offense at these remarks, arguing that they were extremely misleading and divisive.
Biden's poor choice of words has effectively led part of the public and the media to look at his finger when he was pointing to the moon. The Republican Party staunchly opposed increasing financial regulation following the catastrophic 2008 financial crisis that was caused, to an extent, by the reckless investment strategies of certain Wall Street elements. Only three Republican House members and three Republican Senators voted for financial reform. The GOP affirmed that more financial regulation would worsen the stranglehold of "big government" over the economy by creating needless red tape. Romney himself depicted the relatively modest reform as gross overregulation. "Banks are afraid to make loans right now because of the government hanging over them like gargoyles," he said. Congressman Paul Ryan, his vice-presidential pick, voted against the new financial regulations, which run counter to his libertarian philosophy.
Whether Biden's reference to "unchaining Wall Street" was a proper metaphor or not, the facts demonstrate that the modern-day Republican Party is extremely averse to regulation in finance and other areas, from health care to environmental protection. Insofar as Biden was playing the so-called "race card" by telling his audience that Romney's stance towards Wall Street would "put you all back in chains," it was a counter-productive strategy given that the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession harmed Americans of all races and ethnicities. A compelling case for financial reform may be made by simply stating the facts and without resorting to language that is over-the-top.