by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
So it’s the White House vs. Wall Street, all over again, with a “Fair Shot” standing in for the New Deal.
Now, I can see exactly why the Obama campaign has made this choice. The Democrats’ voter base is mad at bankers. The Republicans squirm when they have to defend Wall Street. And no wonder. First the masters of the universe at JPMorgan Chase—the guys who supposedly know how to manage risk—turn out to have lost more than $2 billion in a highly risky derivatives trade placed by a guy in London nicknamed “the Whale.” Then the Facebook initial public offering is revealed to have been an initial private offering for those in the know, who were tipped off ahead of time about the social-networking company’s latest lousy revenue numbers.
Small wonder that other scourge of Wall Street, Paul Krugman, is close to bursting with righteous indignation.
There are just three problems for him and the president. First, this isn’t France. Bashing finance worked well for François Hollande in the recent presidential elections there. But the same tactic makes even some Democrats uncomfortable here (like Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, ex-congressman Harold Ford Jr., and former “auto czar” Steve Rattner).
Second, Obama is nearing the end of his first term as president, unlike Roosevelt in 1933, who was just starting out. He and his party have already passed a massive piece of financial regulation, the 2,319-page Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank, for short). And guess what? It’s garbage. Despite requiring regulators to create 243 new rules, conduct 67 studies (to see if the rules are actually necessary), and issue 22 periodic reports, it somehow manages to miss the real causes of the crisis. A mass of ambiguous, contradictory complexity, its sole result will be to generate jobs for lawyers advising compliance departments.