Watch enough television and a person could get the impression that the greatest threats to mankind are bloody minded terrorists and crashing aircraft. However, the “If It Bleeds, It Leads” brand of modern journalism tends to distract us from some much more realistic threats to our well being.
The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack are approximately 1 in 20,000,000. The odds that our financial and economic well being are in jeopardy are being created right now in a Congress which has thus far in its short existence catered to the Financialists – those “weary souls” who will never have enough gold (wealth) to relax. Witness the attempt at unraveling the Dodd-Frank Act financial regulation reforms during the first week in the 114th Congress. [Business Day, NYT]
The bill was called the “Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act.” [H.R. 37] Nothing could have been much further from the truth of the matter. The opponents of bank regulation are depending on a public which doesn’t know a “counter-party” from a “counter-pane.” This bill was an attack on the imposition of the Volcker Rule, and would have allowed some private equity funds from having to register with the S.E.C. There is nothing in the bill about “creating jobs” except the old hoary delusion that making bankers more wealthy will “trickle down” eventually – sometime after the Second Coming?
Nor are any “small businesses” being “burdened,” unless of course we mean wealth management, hedge, and other financial services corporations with a small number of employees and massive amounts of money under management. We are not, repeat NOT, speaking here of Joe’s Garage, Maria’s Dress Shop, or Anderson’s Bodega and News-stand. In addition to the two big blasts at the Dodd Frank Act reforms, H.R. 37 contained provisions for lots of other goodies the financialists would like to find in their 4th Circle.
There were changes in margin requirements, changes in the accounting treatment of affiliate transactions, the registration of holding companies, a registration threshold for savings and loan holding companies, a ‘brokerage simplification act,’ a registration exemption for merger and acquisition brokers, a repeal of indemnification requirements for SWAP repositories and clearinghouses, changes to benefit “emerging growth companies,” – an EGC is any company with less than $1 Billion in gross revenue in a given year, extended deadlines for dealing with collateralized loan obligations, and various provisions to make fewer required reports from the financial sector EGC’s to the regulators. In short, nothing in the bill had anything to do with the garage, the dress shop, or the neighborhood bodega. This was a bill BY the financial services industry, FOR the financial services industry, or as Minority Leader Pelosi called it, “An eleven bill Wall Street Wish List.”
The good news is that this bill was defeated in the House on January 7, 2014 [rc 9] – the bad news is that the defeat came because the Republican leadership went for expedited passage and Democrats who had previously supported some provisions bailed out on them leaving the leadership without the 282 votes necessary for passage. [Bloomberg] And, there’s more bad news – next time the Republican leadership won’t make the same error, and the bill will come up in another form, this time requiring only a simple majority.
As the bills come back in resurrected form, perhaps a short glossary of Republican rhetoric is desirable:
Small Business – any private equity or wealth management firm with less than a BILLION dollars in annual revenue.
Job Creation – any bill which allows financial sector (Wall Street) banks to make more money; see “Trickle Down Hoax.”
Burdensome Regulation – any requirement that a private equity or other investment entity doesn’t want to follow, even if it means leaving the public (and investors) in the dark about financial transactions.
Simplification Act – provisions in a bill to make it easier for private equity or any investment/wealth management firm to conceal what it is doing from financial regulators – and from anyone else.
Improving Financing – provisions in a bill to let the Wall Street bankers revert to the old Casino format of complicated, convoluted, and “creative,” financing of the variety best known for crashing and burning in 2007 and 2008.
Encouraging Employee Ownership – a provision in a bill to — “to increase from $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 the aggregate sales price or amount of securities sold during any consecutive 12-month period in excess of which the issuer is required under such section to deliver an additional disclosure to investors. The Commission shall index for inflation such aggregate sales price or amount every 5 years to reflect the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, rounding to the nearest $1,000,000.” (This is NOT a joke.)
Since the people who want the enactment of these provisions are not satisfied with “all the gold under the moon, or ever has been,” the specifics of H.R. 37 will be resurrected, re-introduced, and the Republicans will seek passage of every item on the Wall Street Wish List.
Voting in favor of the H.R. 37 Wall Street Wish List were Representatives Heck (R-NV3), Amodei (R-NV2), and Hardy (R-Bundy Ranch). Representative Titus voted against the roll back of the Dodd Frank financial regulations reforms.