Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Wall Street reform has “vaulted to the top” of President Obama’s agenda. Standing in the way, however, is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent $3 million on an advertising campaign opposing an independent consumer protection agency and has pledged to spend $100 million to “defend the free market system.”
Yesterday, Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin ventured into the lion’s den to deliver a tough message. Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce, Wolin ripped the business lobbying group for launching a “lavish, aggressive and misleading campaign” against the consumer protection agency. Wolin proceeded to document instance after instance of the Chamber’s lies. (Read the speech here.)
Bruce Josten, executive vice president of the Chamber, later issued a statement accusing Wolin of “political grandstanding and distortion of facts.” But the Chamber is on the defensive, losing allies on the right. Last night, CNBC host Larry Kudlow, a prominent conservative proponent of trickle-down economics and a lover of all things Ronald Reagan, sided with the Obama administration in its attacks on the Chamber:
KUDLOW: I want to say the Chamber of Commerce is a very negative force on this. Absolutely negative and absolutely wrong in my humble opinion. … Listen, number one, you heard Barney Frank. This was a nice turn of the phrase. Their bill, he says, is death panels for too big to fail big banks. I rather like that. I have supported the Dodd approach. I know the language may not be 100%, but the language looks pretty tight to me. The end of too big to fail bailout nation.
Even some Senate Republicans are giving indications that they want to peel off from their pack and work with Democrats to end big bank bailouts. Sens. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Bob Corker (R-TN) said they expect Wall Street reform to pass this year. “I don’t think people realize that this is an issue that almost every American wants to see passed,” Corker said, arguing that the GOP made a “strategic error” by refusing to work in a bipartisan manner on the bill.
“There are Republicans I serve with in the Senate who frankly don’t want to ‘just say no’ policy when it comes to major legislative initiatives,” Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said yesterday. “And they would like to be part of this debate and offer constructive ideas to this proposal.” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has made clear, however, that it would fine with him if financial reform didn’t pass this year.
Kudlow: Thank you very much. By the way, I want to say the Chamber of Commerce is a very negative force on this. Absolutely negative and absolutely wrong in my humble opinion. … Listen, number one, you heard Barney Frank. This was a nice turn of the phrase. Their bill, he says, is death panels for too big to fail big banks. I rather like that. I have supported the Dodd approach. I know the language may not be 100%, but the language looks pretty tight to me. The end of too big to fail bailout nation. What is your take?
Albertson: There’s a lot in that bill, as you know. I think we have a problem with too big to fail. I think the perception will be we have ended it, and everyone will be happy until the next crisis. In reality, what I see in there and the powers they may or may not have to handle stock holders is not that clear cut.
Kudlow: Barney Frank said we covered it live, they were standing in front of the west wing of the White House, the stock holders are going to be hurt, the creditors, his language is tough, when you read the Dodd fact sheet, it’s tough. They’re talking about bankruptcy courts. This $50 billion assessment, I think the Deputy Secretary is right and the Chamber is wrong.