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Friday, July 16, 2010
This week in the Senate ended with a final vote on the Financial Regulatory Reform Bill. I think we can all agree that our country is in need of smart, effective financial regulation that promotes accountability, enforcement, and transparency. Never again should the American taxpayer and Main Street be on the hook for the wild abuses of Wall Street. Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank Regulatory Reform Billl fails to address the root causes of the financial crisis.
At the heart of the financial meltdown was a housing bubble fueled by subprime and other risky mortgages which were backed by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These government-sponsored organizations attached little to no underwriting standards on these mortgages. The Dodd-Frank bill does nothing to address Fannie and Freddie and does nothing to ensure that prospective homeowners can actually afford the homes they want to buy. Further, the Dodd-Frank bill fails to end “too-big-to-fail.” Giving the federal government the power to take over and run a Wall Street bank is not the reform that I believe the American taxpayers want. When Wall Street gets itself in trouble, a Wall Street firm should suffer the consequences of bankruptcy.
Rather than correcting the root causes of the financial crisis, ending "too-big-to-fail," and reforming Fannie and Freddie, the Dodd-Frank bill instead expands the federal government’s reach into Main Street businesses and consumer transactions that had nothing to do with the crisis. The Dodd-Frank bill creates at least 17 new federal bureaucracies with unprecedented powers to regulate small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers. It even creates a new federal bureaucracy that will have the ability to monitor every conceivable consumer transaction, including credit card purchases. The costs of this government expansion will make it even harder for deserving Americans and businesses to get access to credit, finance growth and expansion, and create jobs.
We must improve our financial regulatory system, but our goal in Washington should be to pass legislation that encourages job creation and helps Main Street, not stifles it.
Equally troubling, the Dodd-Frank bill breaks the promise made to the American public that all unused and reimbursed funds from TARP would be used to pay down our nation’s debt. Instead of keeping their promise of using TARP savings to pay down the national debt, the Dodd-Frank bill instead uses that money to pay for the creation of new government agencies.
What Americans do need now are jobs. In order to create new jobs, our nation’s employers need clarity and predictability in our tax code and government regulations. The issues that have been pushed through Congress—health care taxes and mandates, impending income tax increases, the financial regulation bill and cap and trade—all foster a climate of uncertainty, particularly as it relates to the cost of doing business. This week, I held a press conference with Senators John Barrasso, Orrin Hatch and George LeMieux to discuss the damaging effects that recent legislation has had on job creation. I’m committed to kicking our economic recovery into gear, but in order to do so we must work to foster a climate that leads to more investment, innovation and job creation. Click here to see my remarks from that press conference.
Over the July 4th holiday, I was disappointed to learn of the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick as the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. Berwick, who has been an advocate of government rationed health care, was nominated by the President to be CMS Administrator on April 19, 2010—more than 450 days into the President’s term. No hearing was held, or even scheduled, on his nomination, and the Senate was never given an opportunity to review his record or ask questions about his plans for CMS or his views on health care generally. Even Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) expressed dismay over the appointment. The public deserves to know how Dr. Berwick will handle an agency that controls over $800 billion in taxpayer money and will be implementing many of the new policies contained in the health care reform law.
Next week, the Senate is expected to swear in a new Senator from West Virginia and vote on an unemployment extension on Tuesday afternoon. Between now and the August recess we will also consider Elena Kagan’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. Senator Richard Burr
U.S. Senator Richard Burr