Contra Mike Konczal, Tim Fernholz argues that if you actually look at the details, the Obama administration was pretty consistently on the side of firm bank regulation. It’s true that they didn’t support the Kaufman-Brown amendment to break up the banks, but Tim says they did support a wide range of other good proposals:
The idea that Treasury “always end[s] up leaving their fingerprints on the side of less structural reform and in favor of the status quo on Wall Street” is false. In terms of structural reform, Treasury — and President Obama in particular — were the strongest advocates in government for an independent consumer finance regulator. Other structural reforms that they supported, including merging two bank regulators, the Volcker rule, the (delayed but still real) Franken amendment for ratings-agency reform, serious constraints on the Fed’s emergency bailout powers, the new derivatives regime, the new liquidation authority, and higher capital requirements for the largest banks, including new-fangled contingent capital. Treasury had been talking about reducing risk since this project got under way.
Hmmm. I sure don’t recall Treasury fighting for higher capital requirements in legislation. I thought they pretty consistently wanted that left to the Basel III negotiations instead. And I guess I’m not as sure as Tim that they were ever really behind Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives proposal or Al Franken’s ratings agency amendment until passage was all but assured — at which point it didn’t matter much.
But….Tim follows this stuff a lot more closely than I do, and he makes a decent case if you read through his full post. I’m not sure I’m convinced, but since I wrote about this yesterday I recommend Tim’s post for the other side of the story. It’s worth a look.