Tag: Senator Dodd

Hard Pressed, Senator Dodd Gives Ground

By Simon Johnson

Senator Chris Dodd has good political antennae.  He knows that his financial reform bill will come under severe pressure because it has a weak heart – the provisions that deal with “too big to fail” are simply “too weak to make any sense.”

Stung by the hard-hitting critique of Senator Ted Kaufman earlier on Friday and unsure exactly where an increasingly combative White House is heading on the broader strategy vis-à-vis banks, Mr. Dodd took to the Senate floor yesterday afternoon – actually immediately after Senator Kaufman – in an attempt to sustain the momentum behind his approach to “reform”. 

Note the prominent and rather defensive mention of Delaware, Senator Kaufman’s state, in what Senator Dodd said (the wording here is from the verbatim recording, not the official transcript):

“A business, as I say respectfully, in Connecticut or Delaware or Colorado, a homeowner in those states shouldn’t have to pay the price because a handful of financial institutions got too greedy, too risky, they were unwilling to examine what they were doing or did, recognizing that the federal government would bail them out if they made a bad choice, which they did.” 

Perhaps it was this picture that did it: Continue reading “Hard Pressed, Senator Dodd Gives Ground”

Does Meaningful Financial Reform Have Any Chance?

By Simon Johnson

Senator Dodd’s financial reform bill will be introduced in the Senate Banking Committee today.  Unfortunately, on the major issue – too big to fail financial institutions that caused the 2008-09 crisis and that will likely trigger the next meltdown – there is nothing meaningful in the proposed legislation.

The lobbyists did their job a long time ago.  Treasury sent up a weak set of proposals – Secretary Geithner apparently felt that to do otherwise would be just to seek “punishment” for past wrongdoings; there is too little concern at the top levels of this administration regarding what comes next.  And Senator Dodd was pushed hard by various interests to weaken all potentially sensible proposals – including anything that would bring greater transparency and safety to the derivatives market.  The Republicans have also demonstrated their mastery of delaying tactics; by emphasizing “procedural” issues, they have so far managed to conceal their fundamental opposition to real reform.

A few strong voices have emerged on the Democratic side – Senator Jeff Merkley (on the committee) stands out as someone who both understands the issues and can craft the right message.  Let’s hope he has a good week – if he can bring Senator Sherrod Brown with him, there is a chance that the legislation could move in the right direction.  With all 10 Republicans on the 23 member committee steadfastly opposed to anything at all, any two Democratic senators have some negotiating power – as they can potentially hold up a bill.

And there is something pro-reform forces can reasonably work for at this stage. Continue reading “Does Meaningful Financial Reform Have Any Chance?”