For the millions of Americans who feel slighted by the topsy-turvy world of politics, Wall Street Reform seems like a smidgen of progress. But don’t be deceived. H.R. 4173 (The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Bill), is filled with loopholes. It may seem as no surprise that a bill with 520 rules, 81 studies, and 93 reports just HAS to have some loopholes; Chris Dodd is well known for his ties to the banking and life insurance industry, after all.
Even though the bill has passed, most of the work is yet to be complete. Many of the eventual rules and bureaucracy will rely on interpretation, and the Washington lobbying houses of financial organizations who rely on a laissez-faire environment will spend millions of dollars on an outcome that best serves them. The main lobbying arm of the life insurance industry, The American Council of Life Insurers, is already diligently working on gaining special treatment when the laws are finally interpreted. “The nation must rely on the expertise and professionalism of the agencies to implement H.R. 4173 in a way that honors its underlying spirit of reform, but does not hamper well-functioning markets.” Said Frank Keating, the President of the ACLI.
It doesn’t stop at the ACLI, however. Individual life insurance companies are jockeying the new regulatory agencies to help draw the distinction between regulation of the insurance industry as a whole, and regulation of life insurance, which is a completely different issue according to John Calagna of Met Life: “We remain committed to staying actively involved in discussions with regulators to help avoid any unintended, adverse impact on the life insurance industry,” Calagna says.
The insurance industry is just one piece of the pie, too. Brokerage firms are rallying around their own lobbying groups for special consideration in the new regulations. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, et al. are all part of a cabal of firms spending exorbitantly on lobbying in Washington. One example: Goldman Sachs spent 40% more on lobbying last quarter than it did last year – much of which is attributable to a stepped-up campaign against financial reform.
The sad truth is, as an American, you shouldn’t feel comforted by financial reform. It’s influenced by too many dollars to be effective at fixing the root of the problem. What you can do, however, is speak out against these efforts to ‘rig the game.’ In April of this year Rolling Stone Magazine did just that, by publishing a scathing look at the dark side of Goldman Sachs. One can always have hope in the salvation of journalism.
- Rolling Stone Magazine [for a summary of Goldman Sachs]
- Prospect Magazine [for image]
- Library of Congress [summary of H.R. 4173]