Alexander: Stop Wall Street “High Jinks” Without Hurting Main Street

Says “Last Thing We Need Is to Make It Harder to Get a Loan”

Posted on May 4, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding issues in the financial regulation bill:

On creating jobs:

  • “All of us were appalled by some of the high jinks on Wall Street that helped lead us to the great recession in which we find ourselves and for which we had to take extraordinary action. So the purpose of the financial regulation bill should be to minimize possibility of those same high jinks occurring again, but at the same time, to leave an environment in the United States where we can create the largest number of good, new jobs.”

On a financial regulation Czar:

  • “What about this person that the president would appoint to be in charge of millions of financial transactions in the consumer bureau?  Unlike our other independent agencies, this person would barely be accountable to the president and would not be accountable to the Congress.  Doesn’t that lead to the possibility that this person could write some rules and regulations unaccountably and might make the same sort of mistake we made when we encouraged people to buy houses who couldn’t afford to pay for them—which most agree is the principal event that led us into the great recession that we now have?”

On Main Street lending:

  • “What we want to do – especially after the health care debate – is provide some check and balance to make sure we have a good bill . . . Is there a Washington takeover of Main Street lending?  Community banks, credit unions, plumbers, dentists say there may be.  We need to make sure that there’s not.  The last thing we need to do is make it harder to get a loan in Nashville or Manchester or Knoxville or San Antonio.  Because if you can’t get a loan, you can’t hire a person, you can’t invest in something, you can’t create a new job, and the economy doesn’t move.”

On the bank bailout provision:

  • “Most Americans don’t want a provision in the law that allows or encourages big banks to take risks to cause them to fail and take the rest of us down with them.  So the point of our debate ought to be can we make sure in our financial regulation that we don’t provide incentives for big banks to take imprudent risks that will cause them to fail and hurt us because they’re so big.”

On housing:

  • “Why are we not dealing with the big housing agencies? . . . The Democrats are leaving them out because if the Democrats put them in, we’d have to deal with the two or three or $400 billion cost this year.  According to the Wall Street Journal today, the Congressional Budget Office says the deficit would be about $291 billion bigger in 2009.  So, Congress is going to put it in the drawer or put it under the table or act like it’s not there and say to the American people, ‘Hooray, we fixed financial regulation, but we’re not dealing with housing’?”

On derivatives:

  • “The so-called derivatives issue is a complicated issue for many people, but the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says the bill before us may actually create less regulation for these complicated transactions rather than more.  This is an area we want to make sure we don’t make a mistake in.”