Proposed Fixes to Dodd-Frank Highlight Ongoing Battle over Financial Regulation

“Smart regulation requires a full understanding of the economic consequences in both the proposal and post implementation operation of a rule. Too often, cost-benefit analysis in the realm of financial services rulemaking has been inadequate at best and has failed to provide stakeholders and regulators with a clear understanding of the issues at hand,” Josten continued.

Shelby’s two legislative proposals aim at clarifying and streamlining the implementation of Dodd-Frank.

“The bottom-line principle of the Financial Regulatory Responsibility Act is unambiguous: If a regulation’s costs outweigh its benefits, it should be thrown out. By providing a clear, rigorous, and consistent process for regulators in making that determination, this legislation will eliminate unnecessary burdens on our economy,” said Shelby.

Shelby’s financial regulation bill would require a cost-benefit analysis by all financial regulators and allow retrospective evaluations of rules after being implemented. This analysis would help the public consider what each rule is intended to accomplish and specify the costs of achieving those objectives.

The bill also aims at reducing the burden of existing regulation through several measures. For instance, it would require agencies to develop plans to modify existing regulations, to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving its objectives.

The bill would create a Chief Economist Council consisting of the chief economist of each agency and require them to submit an annual report to Congress on their activities. Finally, the bill would require agencies to incorporate data and analyses provided by the public during the comment period.

Last year, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner attacked conservatives and the business sector for pushing back on federal regulations, calling it “a determined effort to slow and weaken reforms that are critical to our ability to protect Americans from another crisis.”

“The forces working against reform are trying a range of different strategies, including…efforts to use cost-benefit analysis as roadblocks to reform,” Geithner said.

Other critics have condemned similar attempts by Republicans as a tactic for watering down the already-delayed legislation.

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, accused Republicans of wanting to stop any regulations to financial reform.

“These lawmakers are using the responsible-sounding buzzphrase ‘cost-benefit’ to hammer home their misguided belief that somehow the various rules mandated by Dodd-Frank to regulate the market will cost more than the resulting benefits to the market,” said Spitzer.

Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, has criticized the efforts too, saying,  “When you hear someone talking about cost-benefit analysis you have to ask: cost to whom, plus benefit to whom.”

Tying all loose ends on Dodd-Frank is a major priority of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman-nominee Mary Jo White, whose nomination has moved to the full Senate after being approved by a Senate committee last week.

“The SEC needs to get these rules right, but it also needs to get them done,” White told the Senate Banking Committee at her confirmation hearing.

Shelby is open to the idea of working together with Democrats on the issue.

“Sen. Shelby would welcome it. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” said Jonathan Graffeo, Shelby’s communications director.  “Both parties should want to correct objective errors in the law and eliminate regulations that hurt job creation and economic growth more than they help.”