The 211th Congress, under the crack leadership of Nancy Pelosi, passed a Wall Street reform bill that, while fairly tepid in its scope, went much further than any legislation of its kind in decades.
It will come as no surprise to you that Republicans are doing everything in their power to make sure Wall Street reform never gets a chance to work.
The federal agencies charged with enforcing last year’s Wall Street reform law are starving for money, short staffed and worried about being able to implement the far-reaching crackdown on the financial industry.
And that’s exactly what top Republicans in charge of banking and Wall Street oversight want.
The two agencies hit hardest by the failure to pass a full 2011 budget are the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Both the SEC and the CFTC — which were given a substantial increase in power by the regulatory reform law — were slated to get significant funding bumps this year. The chiefs of both agencies said Thursday they don’t have the resources for day-to-day operations, let alone enough manpower to deal with the workload of implementing the sweeping overhaul.
The president called for the SEC budget to grow from $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion in fiscal 2012 and asked for an allocation of $308 million for the much smaller CFTC, up from the agency’s $168 million budget prior to the passage of the Wall Street reform bill.
House Republicans cut funding levels for both agencies, however, slashing $56.8 million from the CFTC and $25 million from the SEC. Republicans have also called for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — perhaps their least favorite part of the law — to receive $80 million, a significant cut from the $143 million the agency had hoped for.
SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro told senators that the agency doesn’t “have the capacity” currently to take on the additional responsibilities required by Dodd-Frank.
While there may have been some controversy over health insurance reform, the Republicans are going to have a very hard time explaining to the American people why they are on the side of Big Banks that brought our country’s economy to its knees. These gigantic banks came through the entire debacle fat, rich and happy; nearly unscathed while so many lost their nest eggs, businesses, homes and jobs. Most Americans, no matter what their political bent, are pissed as Hell that these Fat Cats got away with the banking equivalent of murder and that they not only didn’t pay a price for it, many of them actually received bonuses the following year.
And now we have Republicans like Richard Shelby saying “A lot of us voted against and oppose Dodd-Frank. Obviously, we’d repeal it. So I certainly don’t think we should rush to implement it.”
Shelby was reelected in 2010 so he has little to fear. However, there will be plenty of other Republicans that will need to explain their support of the banksters that robbed to public coffers and, if Democrats are politically shrewd (never an assumption to be made lightly or with confidence), they will use this issue to their strong advantage in 2012. It’s one that will resonate across the political spectrum, particularly among independents who came out so strongly for Barack Obama in 2008.
I’m just sayin’…