What they’re saying about financial reform

The U.S. Senate today voted 60-39 to approve the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, the Dodd-Frank legislation aimed at reforming financial-sector practices; it now goes to President Barack Obama for him to sign into law.

Three Republicans – Scott Brown, D-Mass.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine – crossed the aisle to vote with most Democrats in supporting the bill, while Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., voted with most Republicans against it.

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“The reckless actions of Wall Street cost us millions of jobs and brought our economy to the brink of collapse. The landmark legislation we approved today will rein in casino-style gambling on Wall Street, create a new watchdog agency to protect consumers and safeguard taxpayers by holding financial firms responsible for their own costly mistakes.”

From U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah:

“This bill is a bad for Utah and our nation. Our financial system needs to be fixed, but this so-called cure will cause more harm than good to our struggling families, businesses, farmers, ranchers and economy. This massive legislation is a job killer – it will hurt Main Street America’s ability to access much-needed credit. It will send American jobs overseas. And it will add layer upon layer of burdensome regulations on to the backs of struggling job creators.

“This tremendous government overreach punishes those who had nothing to do with the financial meltdown and can’t afford an army of lobbyists and attorneys to get around these new regulations. What could be the most offensive part of this bill is what it’s missing: reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored agencies that were largely responsible for the financial meltdown and that taxpayers have been forced to shell out of $200 billion to support. That is outrageous.

“The added burden of regulation and uncertainty brought by this legislation are more examples of why our economy is not producing the number of jobs we need. The Obama Administration and its allies in Congress are doing everything possible to create a business unfriendly climate that is anti job creation and anti growth, and then they wonder where the new jobs are.”

Other perspectives, after the jump…

From House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“The American people want reform, not more bailouts from Washington Democrats for their Wall Street allies. The Democrats’ bill makes bailouts permanent, enshrines ‘too big to fail’ into law, and fails to reform the government mortgage companies that sparked the meltdown by giving high-risk loans to people who couldn’t afford it, and it needs to be fixed. House Republicans offered a better solution to stop the Democrats’ permanent bailouts, reform Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, and protect taxpayers and help small businesses create jobs. Our plan holds Wall Street accountable; the Democrats’ plan lets them off the hook. It’s time to start listening to the American people and work together on common-sense solutions to end the bailouts, reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and make Wall Street responsible for its actions.”

From the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, the nation’s largest network of social justice Christians:

“Dodd-Frank incorporates principles of clarity, transparency, accountability, and protection for the common good against private greed, all of which give a stronger voice to Main Street in facing Wall Street. Because of the excesses that led to the current Great Recession, in which millions of Americans lost their homes and jobs, the pendulum has started to swing from an era of an ‘anything goes’ mentality to more careful public oversight and government regulation. The strongest part of this legislation is the establishment of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It will begin to restore safety and fairness to the marketplace by being a watchdog not just for banks but for all Americans who have been mistreated, cheated, and damaged by current banking practices. But, this legislation is not as strong as it needs to be. The big banks are still allowed too many opportunities to go to the casino with our money, and I hope Congress will continue to work hard to close those holes.”

From Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson:

“The American people have lost one more piece of their liberty, as the Senate has voted to create a hidden, permanent bailout that will enable faceless bureaucrats to levy taxes, bail out politically-privileged institutions and to seize and liquidate politically-unconnected ones, redistributing their assets to favored constituencies, like unions.”

“There will be no votes in Congress like TARP ever again, as Congress has abdicated the power to tax and spend elsewhere. Which solves a political problem for members of Congress, but is really just a con game so that they don’t have to take responsibility for unpopular bailouts and government takeovers.”

From Americans United for Change executive director Tom McMahon:

“This is a day no big bank CEO, hedge fund manager, or lobbyist will soon forget. It’s a new day for transparency and accountability on Wall Street and a new era of protection for the American consumer from the recklessness and greed that crushed the economy.

“Following the passage of a Recovery Act that has since saved or created as many as 3.6 million jobs and the Affordable Health Care Act that is reining in insurance company abuses, today also marks the latest in a series of major steps this Democratic-led Congress has taken to clean up the incredible economic mess left behind by the previous administration and to build a solid foundation for economic growth and stability. Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi deserve a lot of credit for once again getting the job done despite extremely powerful special interests pushing back at every turn. Big Bank lobbyists out to kill reform swarmed the halls of Congress for months, literally outnumbering pro-reform lobbyists 11-1.

“Remarkably, Republican leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell both saw the financial crisis as nothing more than an opportunity to shake down Wall Street CEOs for more campaign cash. Desperate to keep the checks coming, Minority Leader Boehner went so far as say the problems on Wall Street, which left 8 million Americans without jobs and evaporated $17 trillion in retirement savings, were no bigger than an ‘ant.’ And even before the gavel went down in the Senate on the Wall Street reform bill, there was John Boehner dutifully calling for its repeal on behalf of his deep-pocketed friends. A more sparkling example of the backwards-looking, Bush-era priorities Republicans would pursue if back in power you will never find.”

“This bill is good news for all Americans, but especially for the communities of color that were disproportionately targeted by predatory lenders,” Greenlining Institute legislative director Chris Vaeth said. “The Federal Reserve found that blacks and Latinos were over four times more likely to receive high-cost, subprime loans than whites with comparable credit scores – exactly the kind of abuse that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is designed to stop.”

The Greenlining Institute also noted that a provision creates Offices of Women and Minority Inclusion in the key regulatory agencies. “People of color are less likely to have bank accounts and more likely to be preyed upon by high-cost operators like payday lenders, in part because they’ve had poor experiences with the banking system,” executive director Orson Aguilar said. “These reforms will help banks better meet the needs of all their customers and bring more Americans into the banking system.”

The folks at MAPLight.org found lawmakers hoping to stop final consideration of the bill received 35 percent more in campaign contributions from commercial banks and bank holding companies than those voting to advance it.

UPDATE @ 3:48 P.M.: From Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina:

“While there is no doubt our nation’s financial sector is in need of serious reform, I am disappointed that the bill passed by the Senate today will do little to fundamentally resolve the problems that led to our nation’s financial meltdown or to prevent another one from happening in the future.

“Creating a new layer of bureaucracy on top of an existing, fundamentally flawed regulatory structure will cost more money without delivering results. Unfortunately that is so often how Washington addresses big and complex issues – with a political Band-Aid rather than an effective and lasting solution. In order to truly reform the financial system, we must first understand where the breakdown occurred; we must also take a much closer look at the flaws inherent in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This bill does none of those things, while at the same time instituting costly new regulations on community banks and credit unions that will further inhibit small businesses’ access to credit.

“Barbara Boxer’s vote in favor of the bill today represents a stunning display of election year politicking, given her support for the bailout of Wall Street. Her vote today was more about adding a line to her campaign rhetoric than it was about producing real reform that will protect consumers, encouraging small business job growth by unlocking credit and putting into a place a regulatory framework that will truly ensure we do not face this level of economic and financial calamity again.”

UPDATE @ 4:19 P.M.: From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“Simply passing this bill will not solve all our problems, but it is a step in the right direction.

“This Congress and future generations must remember the lessons of the past three years, especially in times when the economy is booming and double-digit unemployment seems like distant memory.

“No bill is perfect, but this bill strives to produce prudent regulations of the financial marketplace, not to over-regulate, but to see that regulators like the Fed, the SEC, and the CFTC have the resources necessary to prevent future financial crises.

“Chairman Dodd and Chairman Frank deserve our gratitude for their careful and diligent stewardship of this historic legislation and I am proud to have been involved in its passage.”

President Barack Obama spoke to reporters about it outside the White House today; read his full comments here.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.