New House leaders kiss up to Wall Street

A Republican takeover of the House was expected to make the new Congress friendlier to big business, and incoming GOP leaders are moving fast to turn those expectations into reality.

They are already promising less government involvement in the private sector and more scrutiny of new regulations.

One of the first things they are pushing to do is to water down Wall Street reform. Analysts are already predicting that President Obama’s proposed bank tax is dead.

Given the Democrats’ narrow majority in the Senate and their numerous divisions, the GOP hopes to actually send a bill reversing some of the reforms to the president’s desk.

Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama is expected to chair the House Financial Services Committee, replacing Rep. Barney Frank. Bachus has already pledged to dismantle the strongest regulations of Wall Street in the finance reform law. He is taking particular aim at the legislation that regulated derivative trading.

“The administration will no longer receive a pass when it comes to aggressive oversight of their failed economic policies, and that includes extensive review of all the job-killing provisions in [the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act],” Bachus said.

In the Senate, retiring banking committee chair Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., is expected to be replaced by Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. Citibank operates its credit card business out of South Dakota and Johnson is friendlier to the finance industry than Dodd was.

Suggesting that some Democrats might join in dismantling finance reform, Johnson said Nov. 3 that “lawmakers should wait to see the specific derivatives rules proposed by regulators before seeking revisions.”

Another part of finance reform the GOP wants to dismantle is the newly-created consumer protection bureau.

“Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee have made no secret of their desire to defund and defang portions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law,” wrote the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo. “Particularly the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (which does not stand on its own, divorced from the Congressional appropriations process, until July 2011). And now that they’ve gained a majority in the House of Representatives, the GOP’s game plan is kicking into gear.”

Advocates for campaign finance reform note that the assault on finance reform is what would be expected after an unprecedented corporate spend-fest that successfully shaped a radically more business-friendly Congress.

“A relatively small number of deep-pocketed donors exerted an outsize influence on Tuesday’s [election] results,” said the New York Times in a Nov. 3 editorial.

“The fight for working men and women goes on,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said at a post-election press conference. “The big corporations are going to try to get what they paid for. Working men and women will fight, instead, for what they need.”

Image: Wall Street’s bull // CC 2.0

CORRECTION/UPDATE was made to this story.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.