Half Way to Wall Street Reform

Something has gotten our Senate stirred up, because the word last week was that any sort of meaningful Wall Street reform was probably dead for this year. No we read in the New York Times, that the Senate, yesterday, passed a bill that will be a start to getting the problems under control.

It’s time for the phone calls to the representatives, because we need this. It cannot wait for the next catastrophe.

The Senate on Thursday approved a far-reaching financial regulatory bill, putting Congress on the brink of approving a broad expansion of government oversight of the increasingly complex banking system and financial markets.

The legislation is intended to prevent a repeat of the 2008 crisis, but also reshapes the role of numerous federal agencies and vastly empowers the Federal Reserve in an attempt to predict and contain future debacles.

The vote was 59 to 39, with four Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favor of the bill. Two Democrats opposed the measure, saying it was still not tough enough.

Democratic Congressional leaders and the Obama administration must now work to combine the Senate measure with a version approved by the House in December, a process that is expected to take several weeks.

While there are important differences — notably a Senate provision that would force big banks to spin off some of their most lucrative derivatives business into separate subsidiaries — the bills are broadly similar, and it is virtually certain that Congress will adopt the most sweeping regulatory overhaul since the aftermath of the Great Depression.

“It’s a choice between learning from the mistakes of the past or letting it happen again,” the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said after the vote. “For those who wanted to protect Wall Street, it didn’t work.”

The bill seeks to curb abusive lending, particularly in the mortgage industry, and to ensure that troubled companies, no matter how big or complex, can be liquidated at no cost to taxpayers. And it would create a “financial stability oversight council” to coordinate efforts to identify risks to the financial system. It would also establish new rules on the trading of derivatives and require hedge funds and most other private equity companies to register for regulation with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Passage of the bill would be a signature achievement for the White House, nearly on par with the recently enacted health care law. President Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden on Thursday afternoon, declared victory over the financial industry and “hordes of lobbyists” that he said had tried to kill the legislation.

“The recession we’re emerging from was primarily caused by a lack of responsibility and accountability from Wall Street to Washington,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “That’s why I made passage of Wall Street reform one of my top priorities as president, so that a crisis like this does not happen again.”

As an Obama supporter, I frankly don’t care who gets the kudos for the passage of this, for it was a joint effort at last, with those four Republicans coming to their collective senses. Shame on every one of the Senators that did not vote for it, for what is needed is a start, and this was it. Fine tuning can come later. For now, I am going to believe (and I doubt that I am alone in this) that the Senators that voted against are at least partly beholden to some large entity on Wall Street.

The rest of the article continues with more particulars, which can be read if you use the original hyperlink above. This is wonderful news and the entire nation should be celebrating.

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