Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Regulation war: business in crosshairs

Gun owners to Business: "Welcome to the party, pal!"

So, now Mr. Businessman, you are discovering Chucky Schumer and the Creature from Jekyll Island are enemies of your liberty, too. Haven't been paying attention have you?

Two remarkable things about this article.

First, the author quotes Thomas Jefferson on the dangers of national banks to liberty.

Second, it contains a hilariously funny dig at Congress:

"It would seem that such heady discussions would surely exhaust most of the intellectual capacity in Congress in short order."

I almost spit my iced tea all over the keyboard with that one.

Here's the link at Politico.com.

Here's the story.


Regulation war: business in crosshairs

By Jeanne Cummings

26 May 2009

A battle royal is brewing on Capitol Hill for an already bruised business community.

The Treasury Department this week is expected to unveil its plan for revamping the patchwork of agencies that oversee the financial industry.

Judging from the talk of add-ons from Congress and even the White House, some business lobbyists figure the package might as well come with Santa wrapping, tinsel and lights.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced that he wants to attach a “shareholder bill of rights” to the package. And the White House is talking about adding a consumer board to the regulatory mix.

Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are kicking around ideas about outlawing some corporate executive pay practices — and applying the ban well beyond the financial sector.

The upshot is a classic legislative Christmas tree laden with proposed regulations that carry profound consequences for corporate America and the post-recession economy.

“It’s pretty clear that this is not about regulatory reform, though that cloak might be used for some of it. This is about an activist agenda,” said Tom Quaadman, executive director of the U.S. Chamber Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.

The showdown comes after a string of legislative defeats for the corporate community, from clawed-back bonuses in the financial houses to bankruptcies in the auto sector to passage of the first-ever credit card reform law.

In those cases, isolated industries fought hard against the changes, to no avail. The financial community seems to be headed for the same fate on regulatory reform.

The economic implosion last summer exposed a host of weaknesses — including gaps in oversight, or lax application of it — that prevented early detection of the financial threats, a full understanding of the scale of the problems and an inadequacy of tools to respond to them.

Confronted with those facts, even financial industry officials concede that new regulations are in order. Their worry is overreach — that Congress will impose a draconian system that stifles innovation and handicaps U.S. markets globally.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been meeting with industry experts in recent weeks to hash out ideas for a package of reforms.

Now, he’s expected to propose legislation giving the government broader authority to seize failing financial conglomerates such as insurance giant American International Group and oversee their dismantling.

The government can already do that with banks through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but the current crisis has demonstrated that other large institutions can also pose great risks to the system when they default.

Another expected reform would give the Federal Reserve the power to monitor the economy for any systemic threats such as the explosion of subprime loans that set off the economic slide last summer.

The Fed also would be charged with coordinating the work of the various other regulators.

Expansion of the Fed’s power is already stirring controversy, as it has since the nation’s founding.

Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton fought vigorously over creation of a central bank. President George Washington sided with Hamilton and created the first Bank of the United States.

Even so, Jefferson maintained it was unconstitutional and that service on it was treasonous. “I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies,” he wrote in a letter to James Monroe.

When Jefferson became president, he abolished it.

Over the ensuing decades, a central bank was re-established and abolished and re-established again in 1913 after the 1907 panic.

Today, similar arguments about the Fed’s role are popping up in blogs and in Capitol Hill discussions.

Geithner appears adamant that the Fed should take the role of “systemic supervisor.” And in order to get its way, the White House is “prepared to break China,” he recently warned industry representatives.

But the treasury secretary does seem open to the idea of creating a council representing the existing regulators to advise the Fed, although it’s unknown if he will ultimately propose it.

It would seem that such heady discussions would surely exhaust most of the intellectual capacity in Congress in short order.

But the reform add-ons are likely to spark even more intense debate, and the financial industry is already mobilizing a cavalry of lobbyists to assist — if not rescue — it from congressional overreach.

The Business Roundtable, an organization of major CEOs, unsuccessfully tried to quash Schumer’s shareholder legislation before it was introduced, and, last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce put a target on it.

The legislation would dictate changes in the way corporate boards are composed, ban board chairmen from also serving as chief executive officers and give shareholders some say in executive pay packages.

“There are over 15,000 public companies in the U.S., and the vast majority had nothing to do with the financial crisis. They are trying to create a one-size-fits-all,” said Quaadman, noting that Bill Gates served as chairman and CEO of Microsoft for years.

Meanwhile, a flotilla of corporate advocates will join the Business Roundtable and the Chamber to push back against government dictates about private pay packages.

“Not only is the financial industry terrified,” said one lobbyist. “The nonfinancial industries are, too.”


Crustyrusty said...

"It would seem that such heady discussions would surely exhaust most of the intellectual capacity in Congress in short order."These bozos can't find the restroom without losing 25 IQ points....

A Texan said...

"Another expected reform would give the Federal Reserve the power to monitor the economy for any systemic threats such as the explosion of subprime loans that set off the economic slide last summer."


Get rid of the Fed - it won't obey the law, and Congress doesn't have the balls to make it do so. Ergo, it has become a law unto itself, one which controls the entire economy.

drjim said...

Just adding to our numbers.....

GunRights4US said...

The tax cheat in charge says the White House is prepared to "break China" to get their way.

Hell...they're prepared to break us and anyone else who gets in their way!

Defender said...

"a “shareholder bill of rights” while trashing the real one.
From what I've seen, catering to the shareholders has been the problem. Salaries are an expense. Keeping expenses down makes shareholders' dividends go up. People who invested years, blood, sweat and tears as employees be damned. Meet me in Human Resources in ten minutes. Bye. Happened to me.
The Global F--ing Economy has been good to UPPER MANAGEMENT and some stockholders while redistributing wealth to their conterparts in the Socialist Third World. Khrushchev was indeed a man of vision. They ARE burying us, and many are smiling until the dirt hits THEM in the face.

Defender said...

I don't put it down to Congressional stupidity. The nobility who ruled over penniless peasants could be just as proud and arrogant as those whose vassals were prosperous artisans and craftsmen. you're still the Duke of New York, the Sultan of San Francisco.