Republicans’ efforts to change the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation should offer the party a model for how it should deal with President Obama’s healthcare bill: rather than impractical, unworkable political grandstanding, House Republicans are offering real, substantive, and, yes, wonky, measures to fix what’s wrong with the bill.
Like the healthcare bill, Dodd-Frank attempts to confront some real problems but has serious flaws in its execution. Furthermore, as with healthcare, Congress “punted” on most specifics and has asked regulators to develop them. Unlike healthcare—where Democrats rammed their own preferred solutions down Republicans (and the nation’s) throat—perhaps 70 percent of the broad policies in Dodd-Frank represent common ground consensus measures. (The only person I have met that actually has promised to campaign for outright repeal of the bill is a Tea Party leader who also told me that the Federal Reserve is a private company owned by the Swiss. Oh.)
Thus, the legislative package Republicans are moving forward takes a serious look at the bill and aims to change its bad parts rather than taking a sledgehammer to it. Although some provisions that Republicans favor—the elimination of new credit card rules that simply transfer wealth from banks to merchants, repeal of burdensome data collection requirements—make a lot of sense, others (outright repeal of new derivatives rules) would probably cause more problems than they would solve.
Still, the overall approach of examining the law and trying to fix what’s wrong with it is a welcome move. It shows that House Republicans can, if prompted, actually get serious about governing.