More of What Americans Don’t Want
The financial regulation legislation — which has passed both houses and is awaiting reconciliation — hasn’t raised the ire that healthcare did before it. Several factors come play into that dynamic no doubt: financial regulation is less tangible, Wall Street makes a better villain than insurance companies, folks are tired from the healthcare skirmish, and so on. But it still represents fine evidence that we need wholesale change of the people representing us in Washington.
Kevin Williamson describes one reason why (subscription required):
Much too much has been made of the $50 billion resolution fund and the levy that financial firms would pay to fund it. Senator McConnell abominated it as a “bailout fund,” but he was paying attention to the wrong pot of money: That $50 billion is a little ladle-load of cashola compared with the buckets of schmundo that the Dodd bill will make available for indirect bailouts and endless support of troubled businesses — financial and non-financial firms alike. Case-by-case interventions may be out, but the bill would allow — in fact, appears designed to ensure — bailouts for the creditors of troubled firms. Under the Dodd bill, Wall Street firms (or unions, or sovereign-wealth funds, or anybody else with the right political connections) who are exposed to losses on failing financial companies will be able to collect significantly more money than they would be able to under normal bankruptcy procedures. That is the bailout.
We’ve seen this before, of course. The AIG bailout, for instance, amounted to bailout of Goldman Sachs and other banks that had a lot of AIG exposure and would have had a harder time being made whole in bankruptcy court than they did under Washington’s management. The Dodd bill instructs that the government shall “ensure that unsecured creditors bear losses in accordance with the priority of claim provisions” in the existing law — but how well has that worked out in the past? What legal authority did the Obama administration have to upend the normal priority of claims in the bailout of General Motors, a corrupt deal that saw secured creditors forced to take substantial losses while unsecured creditors received a better deal than they were legally entitled to — all because those unsecured creditors were the union bosses who put Barack Obama into the White House? That wasn’t just a bailout of GM; it was also a bailout of the UAW. That’s the kind of bailout regime that the Dodd bill will make permanent: the indirect bailout.