‘Repeal or Nothing’
“The political context is such that it is either repeal or nothing, which is an absurd way to approach any major legislative activity,” he said of Dodd-Frank during a speech before the Bipartisan Policy Center on Oct. 18.
The focus on technical changes reflects a growing sense among Dodd-Frank opponents that the measure’s repeal is all but dead.
“The election result means the idea of repealing Dodd- Frank is not going to happen,” said Phillip Swagel, a former Treasury assistant secretary in the administration of President George W. Bush and now an economics professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. “With that discussion over, it should be more possible to make smaller changes.”
Mark Calabria, a former top Republican aide for the Senate Banking Committee who now directs financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, said with Democrats’ gains in the election Republicans must “begrudgingly accept” Dodd-Frank and focus more on technical changes.
“There’s certainly a gray area of what’s technical and what’s not and people will play that to their advantage,” Calabria said.
Dodd-Frank critics had hopes for a technical corrections bill even before law was signed by President Barack Obama. As the act was moving toward passage its Democratic authors, Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, said there would be a future bill to make corrections. Dodd said any 2,000-page bill is bound to be followed by “a corrections bill that comes at some point,” and Frank said the next bill may go beyond “technical” fixes.
After the financial-overhaul law was enacted, Democrats and the administration attacked any effort amend the law. In May 2011, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said “dark forces” are waging a “war of attrition” against Dodd-Frank.
The measure to limit how the consumer bureau shares confidential information it collects from banks is an example of the complications that await even bipartisan changes to Dodd- Frank.
Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina placed a “hold” or procedural block on the bill, which was endorsed by the consumer bureau, saying in July he would lift the obstacle in return for a vote to repeal all of Dodd-Frank.
DeMint, who is leaving the Senate at the end of the year to become president of the Heritage Foundation, told Politico last week that he would remove his “hold” without the repeal vote in light of the election results. Now, with DeMint leaving the Senate, it is unclear whether he will stop blocking the bill, clearing it for a quick vote. Wesley Denton, a spokesman for DeMint, has not returned repeated calls and e-mails for comment on the hold.