Nearly eight years of high-stakes lobbying by the banking industry paid off this week when the U.S. House voted to dismantle regulations that pulled the country out of the Great Recession, put millions of Americans back to work and protected consumers from financial ruin.
The vote Tuesday follows Senate action in March to roll back vital provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which put the United States on the road to repair after Wall Street’s 2008 collapse and was designed to prevent future calamity. The partial repeal is likely to reap billions in rewards for the nation’s largest banks, whose risky investment strategies were largely responsible for the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression.
“These banks took massive risks in search of enormous profits, and when they got into trouble, it was working people who payed the highest price,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “One in four of our construction members were out of work after 2008. People lost their jobs, their homes; marriages crumbled, all so these bankers could make a few extra dollars. And now this Congress has set them free to do it all over again.”
The Republican-sponsored bill exempts all but a handful of financial giants from the stricter oversight that Dodd-Frank imposed despite false claims that its intent is to help community banks and other small lenders. President Trump is reported to be eager to sign the legislation.
Even with Dodd-Frank rules in place, the banking industry’s profits have soared. Now they are expected to skyrocket. “This is not a bill that benefits consumers. It is a big-bank bonanza,” Rep. Al Green, a Texas Democrat, said during the House debate.
Thirty-three Democrats voted with all but one Republican in favor the bill. Among those who stood firmly against it was Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who said it puts the economic security of “hard-working American people” at risk.
“It rolls back key safeguards for American consumers. It opens the door to lending discrimination, and it potentially threatens the stability of our financial system and our economy,” Pelosi said on the House floor. “The bill would take us back to the days when unchecked recklessness on Wall Street ignited an historic financial meltdown. Wall Street gambled with the livelihood of consumers and then it was the middle class that lost its shirt.”
See our previous coverage of this issue here.