Republicans Attack Financial Reform

by Jonathan Chait | March 17, 2011

Republicans look to start rolling back financial reform:

Republicans clearly want to strike at the heart of banking reform with legislation attacking new regulations on derivatives, credit rating agencies and private equity firms. But their piecemeal approach suggests they are trying to do so without appearing to favor Wall Street over Main Street. ...

In a two-pronged approach that began with starving funds from relevant federal agencies like the Treasury, Securities and Exchange Commission, and Commodity Future Trading Commission, the GOP now has launched into the symbolic phase of floating repeal legislation favored by the banking lobby.

Republicans have proposed measures that would eliminate provisions in Dodd-Frank making credit-rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s or Moody’s liable if their initial ratings are faulty; destroy the establishment of a derivatives “clearinghouse,” through which companies using the complicated financial instruments to hedge commercial risk must exchange them; exempt private equity fund managers from having to register with the SEC; raise capital thresholds for companies needing to register with the SEC; and eliminate “burdensome” data collection requirements for publicly traded companies. 

If you remember how the bill was enacted in the first place, it was languishing for months, slowly getting whittled down to a toothless measure. But then proponents managed to raise the profile of the issue, and opponents who were happy to carry water for the financial industry behind closed doors discovered they really didn't want to be doing it out in the open.

Basically the same thing is happening now. Opponents of the bill are operating in an environment where almost nobody other than the financial industry is paying attention. That's an environment where it's easy to, at the least, starve financial reform to death. But if President Obama raises the profile of the issue, the politics will quickly flip.

It's a political and a policy no-brainer. I don't understand why he hasn't done so already.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/85384/republicans-attack-financial-reform