Friday, June 19, 2009

The Missing Link in Obama's Regulatory Scheme

I've monitored the media coverage carefully over the past couple of days, to see if anyone in the media spotted the obvious, glaring missing link in the Obama administration's financial regulation overhaul scheme (pdf).

Here are some hints as to what Obama left out:

1. It's a major reason for the financial crisis.

2. It's corrupt, hypocritical, and just downright stupid.

3. It continues to have a central role in the regulation of the markets, and few people (including myself) have figured out a way to deal with it---except to point out that it is a missing link, and that it needs to be addressed.

Give up? The missing link in the regulatory overhaul plan is Congress.

It was Congress that cut funding to the SEC and has failed to adequately supervise the agency. It is Congress that sliced to shreds the consumer protections that gave rise to the subprime and mortgage boiler-room fiasco. It was Congress that is financed, in large measure, by campaign contributions from the securities industry.

Sorry for stating the obvious, but you can't do a thing about financial securities regulation without fixing Congress--changing the campaign finance system, kicking out members who are beholden to Wall Street and Corporate America.

A good example of Congress's cluelessness is the grandstanding at the Senate Banking Committee yesterday, when Tim Geithner appeared to defend the Obama plan. The stunning hypocrisy on display yesterday was galling:
Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) used the hearing to warn financial firms not to oppose the creation of a financial-product safety agency aimed at protecting consumers. "The very people who created the damn mess are the ones now arguing that consumers ought not be protected," Mr. Dodd said.
Congress is behaving as if it was not a major participant in the regulatory mess that caused the financial crisis, and the media is letting 'em getting away with it.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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