GOP Second Bite at the Financial Reform Apple

 Bankers Deregulation The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is about to try another bite at the Roll Back Dodd Frank Financial Reforms apple.  [HuffPo]

“The vote will come within days, if not hours. Under conditions laid down by the House Rules Committee late Monday, the GOP will be able to easily pass the legislation as part of an 11-point deregulation plan without Democratic support, while ignoring any Democratic amendments. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill.” [HuffPo]

A point we should emphasize at the moment is that this piecemeal roll back of Dodd Frank Act reforms is being down without any Congressional hearings, nor will any amendments be allowed to the 11-Bill Wall Street Wish List.  Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, had something to say about this matter:

“House Republicans continue to stop at nothing to push legislation that benefits Wall Street’s biggest banks at the expense of American consumers. Last year, GOP leadership snuck a sweetheart giveaway for banks like JP Morgan and Citigroup into a must-pass spending measure. On just the second day of the Congressional session, they continued that strategy by trying to push through a complicated package of 11 bills to deregulate Wall Street. Fortunately, House Democrats joined together to stop that effort from moving forward. But Republicans won’t be daunted in their efforts to gut important Wall Street reforms.

Next week, House Republicans will take another shot at deregulation – making it clear that nothing will stop their efforts to make rewarding the biggest banks the first order of business in this Congress.
At a time when the American people are still hurting, I am disappointed that House Republicans are continuing to waste our valuable time on bills that help Wall Street and hurt Main Street. Americans are still suffering from the impacts of the worst financial crisis in a generation. They need their elected leaders to work for them, not for the mega-banks.”

The statement from Representative Waters pretty well sums up the situation.  Investment banks collapsed under the deluge of their own greed in 2007-2008, they were bought up and out by the commercial bankers, and they sought the protection of the federal government – they were bailed out and then as commercial banks were protected by the statutes governing commercial (as opposed to investment) banking.  Heads they win, tails they win.  

The Financial Services Roundtable supported H.R. 37 (the first attempt to roll back Dodd Frank in the 114th Congress) calling the delay in the implementation of the Volcker Rule a “technical change.” [FSR pdf ]  The financial interests would have more time to “conform their holdings of collateralized loan obligations under new regulations.”

No to put too fine a point to it, BUT the bankers have had since the collapse of their financial sector to get their houses in order, that would be since, say, October 2008?  But, Financial Services Chair Hensarling was “disappointed the first time and Wall Street Wish List failed, and his comments are instructive:

“They’ve regrettably told the millions of Americans who are still unemployed, the Main Street small businesses that are the engines of economic growth, and our farmers and ranchers in the Heartland that they will sacrifice positive, bipartisan ideas on the altar of ideological politics.  Still, there are many days left in the 114th Congress and I will continue to invite my Democratic colleagues to abandon partisan games and instead join me and many others in doing the hard work of the American people.  I hope that the House will return to this bipartisan bill in the near future for the sake of the people who sent us to Washington to make a difference.” [Hensarling]

Let us parse.  First, H.R. 37 has NOTHING to do with “unemployed Americans,” Main Street businesses, farmers or ranchers in the “Heartland.”  Unless, of course, they happen to be investment bankers on the side.  Second, this isn’t any “partisan game,” it’s a question of whether or not the banks are going to be regulated.  That’s pretty much a policy dispute. And, third, we might ask: Who were the people who sent you to Washington? Because support for H.R. 37 or its substitute tells all concerned that the constituency being supported resides in Wall Street offices.  In this instance, those Main Streeters, Elm Streeters, and happy Rurals are being hauled out as props to screen the Financial Services Roundtable interests.

Here’s the list of Financial Services Roundtable members.  Does this look like Main Street, Elm Street, or the happy Rurals to you?  When did Wells Fargo last plow a field? Or Barclay’s run a grocery store? Or Citigroup manage a family owned construction company?  What we have here looks like the standard-garden-variety Republican ploy – talk about Main Street while looking out for the interests of Wall Street.

If you are keeping score – you can tell the orientation of your Representative in Congress by tracking bills like H.R. 37 or its substitute.  If your Representative is oriented toward the intersection of Main and Elm, he or she will vote NO; if he or she is oriented toward Wall Street the vote will be YES.  Or, more simply: A capitalist would vote “no,” a financialist would vote “yes.”

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