It’s absolutely clear that the Republicans mean to work with the big banks to block any financial reform, no matter how watered down, by any political means necessary.
The Republicans have opposed the president’s nominees in committee. As far as the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, they oppose not only the popular consumer champion Elizabeth Warren to be its chief, they will oppose anyone President Obama nominates. The Republicans have made their intentions clear – they want to gut the agency before it’s born.
Meanwhile the bank lobbyists have gone to work on the regulators who are writing the actual rules to implement last year’s financial reforms, and have effectively stalled the process in its tracks.
To make sure that no one is missing the message, J.P. Morgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon went on the offensive this week, publicly stating that excessive financial regulation was weakening the economic recovery. Without offering specifics, Dimon told Fed chair Ben Bernanke at a bankers’ conference, “I have a great fear someone’s going to try to write a book in 20 years, and the book is going to talk about all the things that we did in the middle of the crisis to actually slow down recovery.”
While the bankers have been working feverishly behind the scenes to further water down the weak Dodd-Frank version of financial reform, Dimon’s statements are the most aggressive public challenge yet to any attempts to rein in the big banks.
What’s unclear is why the president is not meeting this assault on one of his proudest achievements (Wall Street reform) head on, despite the Republicans’ and bankers’ clear signals that they have no intention to compromise. Rather than mounting a strong public case for Warren, for example, the White House continues to float alternative, less qualified, nominees. Obama seems to be laboring under the illusion that there is somebody else who satisfy the Republicans. What’s baffling is that he has no reason to think so: the Republicans haven’t exactly been ambiguous. The bankers are also taking off the gloves, with only a few lonely voices in Washington to make the case for stronger reform.
When will our president get the message?
"My view of financial institutions is colored by my years as a prosecutor...None of this surprises me. They are profit-driven corporations that seek to maximize profitability without much regard to social gain."
former inspector general, TARP