House Passes Sweeping Financial Reform Bill
Naturally, 100 percent of House Republicans voted against the bill:
More than a year after the near-collapse of Wall Street plunged the economy into crisis, a divided House on Friday approved the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system since the Great Depression.
“We are sending a clear message to Wall Street: The party is over,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after the 223 to 202 tally, which failed to attract a single Republican vote.
The 1,279-page House bill would create a new federal agency dedicated to consumer protection, establish a council of regulators to police the financial landscape for systemic risks, initiate oversight of the vast derivatives market and give the government power to wind down large, troubled firms whose collapse could endanger the entire financial system. The legislation also would give shareholders an advisory say on executive compensation, increase transparency of credit-ratings agencies and set aside billions of dollars to aid unemployed homeowners.
The reasons given by Republican House members for opposing the bill are quite telling (emphasis is mine):
House Republicans were unanimous in their opposition, saying that the bill would amount to an egregious overreach of government powers and leave unresolved many of the problems that led to the recent crisis. They argue that it would create unnecessary new layers of bureaucracy and stifle financial innovation.
“We are left with a perpetual Wall Street bailout bill,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), an outspoken critic, said during Friday’s debate. “We are left with a bill that will crush job creation at a time when our nation needs to be creating jobs. We have a bill that assaults the fundamental economic liberties of every American citizen.”
Of course, “financial innovation” is what got us into this mess to start with. And if you go by the unitary executive theory propounded by Dick Cheney and beloved by the Bush administration’s right-wing supporters, there is no such thing as an “egregious overreach of government powers.” The U.S. Constitution grants the President of the United States unlimited authority to do whatever he thinks is necessary to protect national security, and nothing is more vital to national security than a strong economy.
Republicans disagree, though. It’s Americans’ civil liberties that are discretionary. Economic liberties are sacrosanct — even though Wall Street has not created so much as one job for any American citizen outside of the financial industry, much less for every American citizen.