Liberals weigh in on regulatory posts

Jan. 12, 2013 at 2:30 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Federal appointments at the U.S. Treasury Department and other finance regulators require strong consumer advocates to fill them, liberals are saying.

While voicing disappointment that President Barack Obama tapped White House Budget Director Jack Lew to head the Treasury, advocates of Wall Street reform are pushing for Obama to fill key positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with candidates who will follow through on tough rule making spelled out in the Dodd-Frank finance overhaul bill.

"The six largest financial institutions have assets worth $9 trillion, two-thirds the gross domestic product of the United States. I think people understand that the Fed (the U.S. Federal Reserve) does not regulate Wall Street but Wall Street regulates the Fed," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., weighing in on the issue of whether or not Wall Street should be regulated by consumer advocates or former executives at financial firms, who would presumably favor Wall Street's interests over Main Street's.

The Hill newspaper reported Saturday that liberal groups are disappointed in the Lew nomination, given his background at Citigroup, where he was the head of Citi Global Wealth Management and Citi Alternative Investments.

"The last thing the Obama administration needs is to continue having Wall Street insiders and fellow travelers shaping its economic policy," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, in a statement.

Liberals already view the follow up to the Dodd-Frank legislation as weak with the rule making mandated in the law falling behind schedule.

In an independent study, law firm Davis Polk found various federal agencies assigned rules to write and implement from the Dodd-Frank law had missed 60 percent of their deadlines -- 142 out of 237.

"The Treasury piece has been very weak. It really seem that (Treasury Secretary) Tim Geithner's heart was not in following through on any of those tighter rules or more effective restrictions on excessive risk taking," said Simon Johnson, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management.

Appointments on the president's plate include the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and, presumably, the second-in-command at the Treasury, given the likelihood that deputy secretary Neil Wolin will leave after Secretary Timothy Geithner departs.

The second-in-command at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also requires filling.

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