Weekly Column of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)

The New Washington Takeover of Main Street

Posted on May 23, 2010

The so-called financial regulation bill passed out of the Senate this past week throws a big wet blanket on the American entrepreneurial system, the real creator of most new jobs. It was supposed to rein in Wall Street, but instead is just another Washington takeover—this time of Main Street—making it harder for plumbers, dentists, community banks, auto dealers, and credit unions to do business.

Instead of dealing with the high jinks of big Wall Street banks, the bill is going to take over Main Street lending and on top of it create a new czar to make decisions about millions of Main Street transactions across America.  It looks like Washington is about to start regulating your daughter’s dentist bill, the plumber, and the store owners up and down Main Street who give you flexible credit.  That’s going to make credit harder to get because the dentist or the plumber or the store owner is going to say, “I’m not going to fool with it.  I don’t want to be regulated by some Washington bureau, so if you want to buy my goods, go to the bank and get some money or get another credit card.”  That’s going to slow down the economy.  That’s going to make jobs harder to create because it’s going to make credit harder to obtain and harder to offer. If our real intention in Congress on both sides of the aisle was not to interfere with Main Street lending, then we should have actually done that.  Republicans offered an amendment that would have done that, but it was defeated by the Democratic majority. 

And we don’t need another czar.  But suddenly, we have this new Washington agency not only possibly regulating Main Street lending, but with an unaccountable person running it who writes the rules and regulations.

On top of all this, the United States’ total debt is about to reach $13 trillion. That means we’re racing past a yellow flag to a large red flag that’s waving in the wind and saying, “Stop the train before we run off the fiscal cliff.”  The Democratic Congress seems to be totally unaware of this big red flag and this fiscal cliff toward which we’re headed.  It continues to take steps to pass the president’s budget, which will double our debt in five years and triple it in ten. 

The elections last Tuesday are one more reminder that the November election will be primarily about too much spending, too much debt, too many taxes and electing Republican senators to put a check and a balance on a runaway Washington government.