Friday, May 21, 2010

Financial Fix

The Senate, on a barely bipartisan vote (59-39), passed a very large and comprehensive bill that will overhaul the way consumers, banks, and Wall Street handle other people’s money.

The 1,500-page measure, shepherded through the Senate by Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the banking committee, seeks to reshape both Washington and Wall Street.

In providing for the most profound remaking of financial regulations since the Great Depression, the legislation would create a new consumer-protection watchdog housed at the Federal Reserve to prevent abuse in mortgage, auto and credit card lending. It also would give the government power to wind down large failing financial firms and set up a council of federal overseers to police the financial landscape for risks to the global economy. Moreover, the legislation would establish oversight of the vast market in financial instruments known as derivatives, impose new restrictions on credit rating agencies and give shareholders a say in corporate affairs.

The bill still has to be reconciled with the House version, but barring any problems, the bill should be on the president’s desk by the 4th of July.

Oh, and if you’re keeping score, that’s two big bills that the Democrats managed to get passed in the space of two months. Not bad for a gang that can’t get anything done.