In recent months, a number of Republicans have distanced themselves from a bombastic Trump campaign.(The party itself appears to be focusing on down-ballot races.) But apart from Presidential maneuvering, one issue is reverberating through every splinter of the GOP - the goal of repealing Dodd-Frank. This legislation is the centerpiece of the Obama Administration's banking regulations after the 2008 financial crisis, and dismantling it tops the GOP's to-do list.
While it's been eight years since the market crash and the Great Recession, the $700 billion banks bailout (a number not even including the funds borrowed from the Federal Reserve), alongside devastating unemployment numbers and the billions in lost personal savings are far from forgotten. Most Americans support laws such as Dodd- Frank; they applaud measures to prevent Great-Depression-like economic catastrophes. But some Republican candidates and lawmakers, like Senator Jeb Hensarling, (R) Texas, see Dodd-Frank, in contrast, as a step towards complete government control of "capital markets". Hensarling has announced a plan to help "relieve financial institutions from regulations that create more burden than benefit." He told the Washington Free Beacon, "[The Republican] reform plan allows banks to opt into an alternative regime." His plan is supplemented by the proposed bill below, Senator Rand Paul's S226-114 Executive Need of Scrutiny Act of 2015.
Does the thought of freeing up the financial sector from the basic regulations put in place by Dodd-Frank, makes you scratch your head-- or even feel nervous?
It should. The banking and finance industry enjoyed freedoms -- including freedom from scrutiny that led some insiders to commit fraud -- that seem to come at the expense of everyday people. Meanwhile, the government has many priorities that come before imposing basic accountability measures.
At the least, Dodd-Frank provides a fairer legal platform for consumers than before it existed; it is called the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. This agency, championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, is in place to save victims of predatory and fraudulent banking millions in fees that would otherwise be imposed on them while fighting corporate legal teams. Another important pro-consumer piece of legislation is the Volker rule, which prevents banks from making risky bets with large amounts of consumer's money.
The Republicans wish to do away with both of these. Their proposed plan allows large banks to opt out of capital and liquidity requirements -- which require banks to actually have real dollars on hand when you go there. And one of the most telling points in the Republican plan is its effort to prevent financial agencies from designating non-banks as "systematically important". This countermeasure comes as courts have begun to attack the use of the term "too big to fail" as a legislative label.
Whom are these proposed changes for? Are they for the many who lost hard-fought life savings in plans that had been deemed safe, or for the young people in the workforce looking to secure a financial future? Probably not. While the likelihood of such destructive legislation passing is low, 'finance reform' is a key issue on the campaign trail on both sides of the struggle. The last Clinton in the Whitehouse signed a repeal of Glass-Steagle, a bill that had prohibited commercial banks from engaging in the investment business. The 2016 Clinton camp now wants to "update and modernize" Glass Steagle. In banking, even small changes mean huge business. For both parties, the shaping of laws that control banking, are central in the days and months ahead. Citizens need to keep a watchful eye on these bills and use the BillCams to inform and alert their neighbors and let elected officials know that these deals won't take place in the dark.
The world of derivatives and black boxes can seem murky and convoluted, but when it's everyday Americans' money and credit being packaged off to the highest bidder, everyday Americans face the consequences. We can't allow the battle between corporations out for higher profits and autonomy to become political at our expense. A lack of accountability caused the meltdown; Dodd-Frank provided some basic accountability in an industry that requires scrutiny to protect ordinary people. Basic regulation via government does not threaten to implode the finance sector. The road to a stable banking systems is made of rules, not the chaos of unlimited freedoms. Balancing risk and recklessness in banking is not "Wolf of Wall Street" exciting, but it is necessary. Use the BillCam to express your view of this potent, impactful bill, and vote 'no' -- and tweet the bill sponsor and your rep -- if you want to keep basic regulations in place.