Last week, Congress made an unprecedented commitment to financial transparency and good governance in a sector that not only affects American wallets but also some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. An historic measure, included as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed by the House and Senate, will make disclosure of payments from oil and mining companies to governments around the world a legal requirement, increasing financial transparency in the oil, gas, and mining industry and helping to reduce the corruption, mismanagement, and conflict that are too often associated with natural resource extraction booms.
Economy & Budget
Congress has at its fingertips an opportunity to save or create 90,000 jobs and avoid a $3.5 billion hit on the economy. It’s a commonsense fix with longstanding precedent. For over a quarter of a century, Congress has been helping to keep down the cost of production by waiving duties on imported production components that are not produced domestically. But the duty suspension has expired at a critical time for our economic recovery. Congress needs to restore this duty suspension at the earliest opportunity.
Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released the following statement after the state government of Virginia announced a $220 million budget surplus:
During these challenging economic times, Virginia balanced its budget and created a revenue surplus of more than $200 million in FY 2010. This is a result of the steady leadership of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R). Due to its fiscal prudence, Virginia was also able to close a $4.2 billion budget shortfall in the FY 2011/2012 by significantly cutting spending and without raising taxes. If America is to get its fiscal house in order, Washington needs to learn from the bold actions taken in Virginia by Governor McDonnell.
Here we go again. We have heard countless statements and assertions from the White House over the past 17 months that the Stimulus Bill passed in February of last year is working. It’s time for the White House to stop this rhetorical fantasy and focus on the fact that its policies--Stimulus included--have failed to create jobs for out of work Americans.
Yesterday President Obama was in Michigan touting his Stimulus bill, but people across the state (and the rest of the country) don't need to look much further than the unemployment lines to see that the stimulus has failed miserably. Whatever employment numbers Obama’s economic team may cook up or whatever photo-ops his staff sets up, the cold, hard facts remain: Obama Democrats want credit for “saving or creating” imaginary jobs because they don’t want to take responsibility for the real jobs they’ve lost.
"The failures of our nation's fiscal problems are staggering … (and) Congress still does not have a budget mechanism that will put the (debt) growth in reverse. This is not to say that Congress hasn't tried to change. We have been on one budget diet after another since the mid-1970s. But like most diets, we are soon back to where we started or even more bloated. It is imperative that we get a handle on our finances. We owe it to future generations of this country."
Though the words above could have been taken from any number of recent congressional-floor speeches, they were actually spoken 17 years ago by Missouri Rep. Melton Hancock in support of a proposed debt-relief bill.
A Journal Sentinel editorial Tuesday ignores my record when it suggests that politics played a role in my decision to oppose a deeply flawed financial regulatory reform bill. My record on these issues has been consistent: I side with Wisconsin over Wall Street every time.
In 1994, I was one of four senators to oppose the interstate banking bill, which has directly contributed to the creation of massive "too big to fail" financial institutions.
Everyone agrees that reform of Wall Street is necessary, but this legislation doesn’t do that. It is disturbing to me that this bill has garnered the support of the very banks that helped bring on the financial disaster and is opposed by the community banks, credit unions and small businesses that had nothing to do with the financial meltdown, yet will bear the brunt of the bill’s pain. Furthermore, the legislation does nothing to address the role that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in nearly bringing down our financial system.
The American Bankers Association is very disappointed with the regulatory reform bill that is now headed for enactment. While its core provisions provide needed reform, it is overloaded with new rules and restrictions on traditional banks that did not cause the financial crisis. The result will be over 5,000 pages of new regulations on traditional banks and years of uncertainty as to what the massive new rules will mean.
Today’s passage of Wall Street reform is another step Democrats are taking to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and give consumers more control. Nearly two years ago, our nation faced a financial crisis that was largely the result of Republican policies that allowed big banks to make risky choices. This bill will reestablish fair rules of the road which will work to rein in the excesses of Wall Street, thereby rebuilding confidence in our economy and promoting job creation. It also puts middle class Americans — not big banks — back in control, ending bailouts and increasing consumer protections.
After months of careful consideration, landmark financial reform legislation moves towards final passage. While this bill is a vast improvement over the existing regulatory structure, I believe it should go further with respect to erecting statutory walls that address the fundamental problem of "too big to fail." I will support the conference report, though I do so with significant reservations about a missed opportunity to enact needed structural reforms that would better prevent another financial crisis.