Given how extreme the failure of Wall Street was that caused the 2008 crisis, the financial reform bill passed by Congress last year, Dodd-Frank, is pretty weak tea. It's riddled with giant loopholes, defers many of the biggest decisions to the same regulatory agencies who failed us in the first place, and, most significantly, allows the banks that needed a $4.6 trillion bailout because they were "too big to fail" to become even bigger. Dodd-Frank was largely an exercise in passing a bill for the sake of appearing to have done something. Unfortunately, Congress seem to have fooled a lot of people out there, especially those who work for popular newspapers, into believing that they have fixed the problems.Read Full Article
This probably won't come as a surprise to many of you, but in the 383,013-word, 2,253-page Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, Congress and the President seems to have enacted a provision that, according to a cadre of government transparency groups, "has the potential to severely hinder the public’s ability to access critical information related to the oversight activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), thereby undermining the bill’s overarching goals of more transparency and accountability."Read Full Article
UPDATE: The bill has officially been passed. It now gets sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law this afternoon. Original post below...
As expected, the Senate this afternoon voted 60-38 to end debate on the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protections Act. The vote on final passage of the bill, whiconly requires a simply majority of 51 "ayes," is expected later this afternoon.
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As many of you out there are painfully aware, congressional Democrats have been been struggling for weeks to pass an extension of unemployment insurance payments for the millions of people who have lost their jobs in the economic crisis. Republicans have blocked the UI bills repeatedly in the Senate over the past month and did so again today in the House. But between their failing votes on extending the UI lifeline, the Democrats have been having more success with a bill that is designed to actually stimulate the jobs market. The "State Small Business and Credit Initiative Act of 2010" (H.R. 5297) passed the House on June 17 by a vote of 413-0. Today, the Senate voted to break a Republican filibuster of the bill by a vote of 66-33. The House Majority Whip provides this summary of the bill:Read Full Article
The conference committee worked through the night until 6 a.m. this morning to finalize their financial reform bill and, in particular, its critical language regulating the huge and risky over-the-counter derivatives market. I stayed awake until about 3:00 a.m., following along to the extent possible on C-Span and providing updates on Twitter, but I was asleep before any good info or analysis was really available. Now that we have some day-after reporting on what happened in those delirious early morning hours, after all but a handful of people had turned off C-Span, here's what it looks like went down.Read Full Article
The financial reform conference committee kicks off tomorrow. This is where negotiators from the Senate and the House meet to iron out the differences between their versions of the bill and create a final text to be voted on one more time by both chambers.
Though the two versions of the bill are broadly similar (House version, Senate version), when looked at more closely there are dozens of hugely important details that will need to be resolved. For example, will the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency be independent, or will it be housed at the Fed and subject to Fed vetoes? Will there be a pre-funded orderly liquidation fund, or will the funds necessary for liquidating failing big banks be put up by the federal government when the time comes? Will banks be allowed to continue getting government backing for their derivatives trades, or will they be required to spin their derivatives activites off into separate entities without access to the Fed's discount window and FDIC guarantees?Read Full Article
Earlier this week Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR] and Sen. Judd Gregg [R, NH] introduced legislation that would cut the corporate income tax but also eliminate certain corporate tax breaks. Online poker fans are also excited about a provision in the bill legalizing Internet gambling. Wyden's and Gregg's Bipartisan Tax Fairness and Simplification Act replaces the federal corporate income tax of 35 percent with a flat 24 percent rate. The bill also reduces the six existing marginal income tax brackets to...Read Full Article
The most surprising and most significant statement from a member of Congress tonight following the Massachusetts Senate results came from the influential, generally progressive Rep. Barney Frank [D, MA-4]: I am hopeful that some Republican senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform. Because I do not think that the country would be well served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care...Read Full Article
Rep. Louise Slaughter [D, NY-28] recently introduced a bill along with Rep. John Tierney [D, MA-6] that would set a nation-wide annual credit card interest rate cap at 16%. She's bringing the bill straight to the Rules Committee, of which she is the Chair, in an attempt to prevent it from simply dying in committee.Read Full Article
The House today is expected to vote on and pass the Democrats' comprehensive financial regulations overhaul bill (H.R. 4173). But before they do, they'll likely approve an amendment from the pro-business New Democrats Coalition to pre-empt tougher state laws. Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration have been fighting against this for months.Read Full Article
One year after the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression, Congress is still debating new financial regulations to protect consumers and prevent risk-taking in the financial sector. The House Committee on Financial Services is currently undertaking the important first step of writing, amending and voting on some of the pieces of the long-proposed financial regulatory reform.Read Full Article
On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee will begin its mark-up of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009. This is the first bill Congress will take up to fulfill President Obama's effort to re-regulate the financial markets. Click through to read the details of the CFPA legislation.Read Full Article
The television and Internet are plastered with health care coverage, but there are other issues bound to move through Congress this fall. One issue that appears to be moving soon is a package of new financial regulations, which include the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009 (H.R. 3126). House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank has tentatively scheduled a vote in committee for the CFPA Act on September 23.Read Full Article