An Iceberg of Financial Reform, but What Lies Beneath?
Mike Brownfield /
A whopping 62 percent of Americans now say the United States is on the wrong track, yet President Barack Obama and liberals in Congress continue to steer the country in the same downhill direction toward bigger government. That runaway train picked up more speed this morning, as a House-Senate conference committee came to a final agreement on a Wall Street reform bill that’s packed with $19 billion in new taxes and fees on banks (which consumers will end up paying), a new consumer-unfriendly Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and a complete failure to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (among the causes of America’s financial nightmare).
Though the Wall Street reform bill is aimed at solving the problems that led to America’s financial collapse, it entirely ignores one of the major culprits responsible for our fiscal mess – Fannie and Freddie. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac remain a multibillion dollar drain on the U.S. Treasury, and largely untouched by this proposal.”
Given the sheer scope of the nearly 2,000 page bill, the biggest concern might be the unknown, unintended consequences that lie beneath. As Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said during a conference committee meeting, “My guess is there are three unintended consequences on every page of this bill.”
But what we do know about the bill is bad enough already. For starters, the bill creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will likely do consumers more harm than good. As Alex Pollack of AEI writes:
Any objective observer of government-agency behavior would predict that this will become a large, expensive, highly intrusive additional financial bureaucracy. With arbitrarily expanding demands, it will impose heavy costs on consumer financial services and requirements that likely conflict with those of other financial regulators.
Customers are already seeing the effects of increased government regulations on banks — less money in their pockets. The Wall Street Journal reports that “Bank of America Corp. and other banks are preparing new fees on basic banking services as they try to replace revenue lost to regulatory rules, in a push that is expected to spell an end to free checking accounts for many Americans.” With more regulations handed down by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, consumers can expect more costs, less choice, and fewer consumer-friendly products (like debit cards) from their banks.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said the bill “deals with every single aspect of our lives.” Given that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. That’s a scary prospect.