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“FINANCIAL TAKEOVER BILL” SEEMS POISED FOR PASSAGE

 

By Sarah Foster
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
July 14, 2010
2010 NewsWithViews.com

UPDATE: Despite weeks of arm-twisting and deal-cutting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barak Obama still are not sure they have the votes needed to pass the Financial Takeover Bill. In other words - PASSAGE IS NOT A DOONE DEAL and the Democrats and the administration are worried.

This link from LibertyCentral.org quotes an email sent by a Democratic group urging the Democrats to step up the pressure on the Senators. The Democrats seem particularly concerned about those from Virginia.

As the activists at Liberty Central see it: “If the White House and the Democratic National Committee believe that a determined opposition can still stop this bill, then it’s crucial to weigh in now! Call your Senator today, and tell him or her to vote against the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul when it comes up for a vote this week.”

WASHINGTON – Thanks to three aisle-jumping Republicans, it looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will have the votes needed to push the Conference Report of the financial regulatory bill towards a final passage this week.

Officially titled the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, after its chief sponsors, opponents are calling it the Frank-Dodd Financial Takeover Act because of its threatened overreach into all segments of the economy and pending control of businesses from Main Street to Wall Street.

Sen. Scott Brown, the Tea Party darling from Massachusetts who won the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in a special election last January, announced Monday he expects to vote for the highly controversial measure, along with Maine’s Republican senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins who have declared their support.

Brown said he supports it, in part because the conference committee eliminated a proposed tax on banks. "I decided that while the bill was far from perfect", it is a “vast improvement,” explains Brown in his Facebook post.

“In other words the bill still sucks, but I'm going to vote for it anyway because I don't have spine and I want to try and keep my liberal voters happy in my liberal run bankrupt home state of Massachusetts,” quips “Hershaw” (a Rantrave.com blogger in Seekonk, Mass.) paraphrasing the senator’s remarks.

The legislation is a priority for the Obama administration, and with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress Reid has enough votes for passage even if every Republican senator votes No. However, he needs 60 – a super majority -- to overcome a Republican filibuster that would hold up the legislation and possibly result in its defeat. The Snowe-Collins-Brown triumvirate could give Reid the votes necessary to shut down debate.

Worse than the Healthcare Bill

This is the bill that Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., warned last December was “even worse” than the healthcare bill, the climate control bill and other contentious measures on the president’s priority list, NewsWithViews reported.

“I know that’s hard to believe, but it is worse in the sense that every American makes financial transactions,” said Bachmann during a TV interview just hours before the House approved the measure. “We all use credit cards, we all write checks. This will all now be controlled by government, and government will ration credit. You can’t have capitalism without capital, and government will decide who gets capital and who doesn’t.”

“The entirety of this bill -- all pinned together like this -- hasn’t even gone through committees,” Bachmann exclaimed. “It just went on the floor for three hours of debate. It’s a complete government control of the financial services industry and no one knows about it!”

Bachmann was talking specifically about H.R. 4173: The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, authored by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., which the House passed on Dec. 11. In April, Sen. Chris Dodd introduced S. 3217: Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, which the Senate passed on May 20.

Not a single Republican voted for the bill in the House, but on the Senate side Republicans were not united against S. 3217. In a move that surprised and disappointed many of his constituents, Sen. Scott Brown cast the deciding vote to defeat a filibuster that could have killed the bill at that point; he then joined Snowe, Collins and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and most of the Democrats to approve the measure itself, 39-59, on May 20, sending it to a conference committee comprised of House and Senate members.

The legislation now before the upper house is therefore a merger by the conferees of the two versions, and is a whopping 2,315 pages long. The House passed the final report on June 30, 237-192.


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Bachmann’s remarks, which some felt were hyperbolic at the time, at this point in time appear moderate and definitely on target. The bill itself has drawn fire from many quarters, as word its provisions and their ramifications become more widely understood and recognized.

A Tsunami of New Rules and Studies

“So what does the Dodd-Frank Act do?” asks Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in an article he managed to get posted at the left-leaning Huffington Post.

“For one thing, it calls for more than 350 regulatory rulemakings, 47 studies, 74 reports, and counting, This tsunami of new rules and studies will cause tremendous uncertainty, making it harder for businesses to raise capital, make investments, and create jobs. To put this effort into context, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act required 16 rulemakings and 6 studies--which took more than two years to complete. In the meantime, businesses must contend with a bill of which Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), one of its chief architects, remarked, "No one will know until this is actually in place how it works." If that's not a recipe for confusion, uncertainty, and litigation, I don't know what is!”

Donohue deplores the fact that instead of “reforming the regulators,” the Dodd-Frank Act creates “even more regulatory agencies on top of a fundamentally flawed, outdated system, instead of fixing the system itself.” One such body, he notes, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “a sprawling new bureaucracy with unchecked and far-reaching powers that could potentially regulate hundreds of thousands of non-financial businesses.” (emphasis added).

Shortly after S. 3217 was passed by the Senate, CNSnews.com reported that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – to be housed within the Federal Reserve -- would be empowered to “gather information and activities of persons operating in consumer financial markets” at any level, including the collection of personal transaction records from local banks, names and addresses of account holders, ATM and other transaction records, and the amount of money kept in each customer’s account.

The bureau will be allowed to “use the data on branches and [individual and personal] deposit accounts … for any purpose” and may keep all records on file for at least three years and these can be made publicly available upon request.

The new financial protection bureau is not the only data-collecting, privacy-destroying entity that the president would sign into existence. There’s also the Office of Financial Research, empowered to “collect, validate, and maintain all data necessary” to maintain the “financial stability of the United States.”

A Financial Intelligence Agency

According to an analysis by Americans for Limited Government, that information would be “obtained from member agencies, commercial data providers, publicly available data sources, and financial entities.” That is data on every financial transaction in the country the Office says that it needs to monitor, which gives rise to major privacy concerns.


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The OFR would “’require the submission of periodic and other reports from any financial company for the purpose of assessing the extent to which a financial activity or financial market in which the financial company participates, or the financial company itself, poses a threat to the financial stability of the United States.’ The bill even grants the Director of the OFR subpoena power to require ‘the production of the data requested … upon a written finding by the Director that such data is required’ to maintain financial stability.”

ALG describes the new office as a “financial intelligence agency,” designed to “monitor and in extension, control all economic activity in this country without regards to an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy.”

The Good News

From the conservative, libertarian, or constitutionalist perspective about the only good news in this welter of government-expanding provisions that Congress has created is that the infamous “Waxman Amendment” (reported by NewsWithViews.com) was kept out of the both the Senate’s S. 3217 and the final Conference Report.

This provision by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is intended to extend the reach of the Federal Trade Commission over “virtually every sector of the American economy,” warns the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in a letter to Sen. Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Although the provision (Section 4901 in H.R. 4173) did not refer to dietary supplements, it was clear that the industry was the primary target that impelled Waxman to take advantage of his position as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and insert the section into the bill before it went to the House floor.

According to attorney Jonathan Emord, “Vitamins are one of the main reasons why Waxman was motivated to do this.”

“It’s not apparent from the face of the bill, but without question one of Waxman’s primary targets has been the supplement industry, and one of the things that could be done under this bill quite easily is to change the nature of what is required by supplements all across the board to justify any ad,” Emord told NewsWithViews.com.

The Alliance for Natural Health-USA played a major role in keeping Sec. 4901 out of the Senate version and Conference Report, by alerting its members and others in the movement and industry for dietary supplements.

“Last Friday, your voice was heard in Congress,” writes Darrel Rogers, communications director for the ANH-USA. “Thanks to your activism, the provision to expand the Federal Trade Commission’s powers – and with it, the likely restricted access to nutritional supplements – did not make it into the Wall Street ‘Reform’ bill.”

During the conference committee meetings, both Waxman and Frank tried without success to persuade the conferees to accept the FTC expansion, Rogers said.

The Bad News

Although the battle regarding the “Waxman Amendment” is over for now, it may not be completely finished, and Rogers warns that activists need to “stay vigilant.”

“Our allies on Capitol Hill believe he may slip the language into a miscellaneous amendment on some other bill,” he writes. “We have to be especially concerned about the lame duck session that will follow the fall election when defeated representatives have one last chance to vote. But now we know Waxman’s game plan, who his allies are in the Senate, and we will update you on any new developments.”

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Rogers told NWV that the language of Sec. 4901 has been studied and those in other groups are on the lookout for it in case it’s slipped into some other legislation, perhaps an appropriation bill.

Earlier Stories:

1 - Jonathan Emord: The New Totalitarians: May 10, 2010
2 - Sarah Foster: Henry Waxman's Sneak Attack on Dietary Supplements: May 4, 2010
3 - Jonathan Emord: McCain to FDA: Regulate Joe the Plumber: Feb. 15, 2010
4 - Sarah Foster: Michele Bachmann Warns: "Financial Bill Worse than Healthcare Measure": Dec. 16, 2009
5 - Jim Kouri: Obama, Congress Strive to Bankrupt America: Dec. 13, 2009

Resources:

1 - Conference Report: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
2 - Liberty Central Inc: a conservative information/activist 501-c-4 nonprofit organization at www.libertycentral.org. Founded and directed by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas. Website is frequently updated, especially during controversial congressional battles. Sign up for email alerts and check often for updates.
3 - S. 3217: Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, introduced April 15 by Chris Dodd, D-Conn., with no sponsors. Passed by the Senate May 20, 59-39 (2 present/not voting)
4 - H.R. 4173: The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009, introduced Dec. 2 by Barney Frank, D-Mass., with no co-sponsors. Passed by the House Dec. 11, 223-202 (9 present/not voting)
5 - Robert Romano: Massive Government Overreach in Dodd-Frank Conference: Americans for Limited Government. Romano is senior editor of ALG News Bureau.
Also by ALG: Big Brother is Watching You: The Threat Posed by the Dodd Bill to Privacy, a report on the Office of Financial Research, May 2010, updated June 28 (three pages), and Down a Rabbit Hole: The Threat Posed by the Dodd Bill to the Private Sector, an analysis detailing the bailout and takeover powers. (six pages)

2010 NWV - All Rights Reserved

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Sarah Foster is a researcher and freelance writer:
sarahfoster7433@att.net


 

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Sen. Scott Brown, the Tea Party darling from Massachusetts who won the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in a special election last January, announced Monday he expects to vote for the highly controversial measure...