Republicans vs. Wall Street Reform

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I can understand why Republicans would want to bad-mouth Barack Obama’s financial regulatory reform bill. It’s a big legislative victory for the White House and the Democrats. So if you’re a Republican, you want to undermine it–perhaps by arguing that the bill is riddled with special-interest loopholes. But supporting some kind of tough Wall Street reform seems like close to a no-brainer.

Certainly Republicans wouldn’t want to appear to be defending those archvillains of Wall Street whom so many millions of Americans blame for the state of the economy and the post-bailout federal budget. Yet the GOP keeps sending just that message. First the House Republican leader, John Boehner, likened the Democratic financial reform bill to nuking an ant. Then, yesterday, in the wake of the bill’s passage, he’s openly vowing that Republicans will seek to repeal the new measure. But it’s not just Boehner. Today Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee chimed in saying much the same.

The politics here seem so terrible that I guess you have to give Republicans credit for intellectual honesty. They simply loathe regulation, and see the FinReg bill as another encroachment of big government of the private sector. That certainly seems to be where Boehner’s coming from. His latest idea, proposed today, is a total ban on new federal regulations–a comment House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly posted on her blog, with evident delight. Republicans may yet with back the House this fall, but it’s hard to see how talk like this will help them.