The right challenges financial services reform

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(NNPA)—Get ready for the next fight as the president and the Democratic controlled Congress attempt to try and fix the mess that nearly brought down the entire economic system that has placed millions of people out of their houses, jobs, savings, etc. Republicans met with banking association representatives recently about the financial services bills working their way through the House and Senate and came away dedicated to defeating them any way they could.

The pain caused by the economic crisis finds most Americans favoring the need for financial services reform, but Republicans have turned on their message machine to fight it. For example, a $50 billion fund was put in the Senate version to have banks pay for their own bailout if they fail, rather than the U.S. Treasury.

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You would think that is a good thing for those who faulted the government for bailing out the banks, but the Republicans have said that it ensures future failures and bailouts because the money is there. They have also called the effort of the government to regulate banks that are “too big to fail” extending “more government intervention into the private sector.”

The lack of regulation by Republicans created the crisis in the first place, but they don’t seem to care if it happens again. It is interesting that the Tea Party folks who are supposed to be the ultimate fiscal conservatives are so mad at the government bank bailouts but they haven’t turned on the Republicans. This is partly because the latest CBS News, New York Times poll says that they are Republicans and that they hold the Congress responsible for the crisis rather than George Bush. Call it what it is, a convenient dodge.

The same poll found that about 20 percent of Republicans belong to the Tea Party and that nearly all dislike President Obama, many thinking that he is a socialist, not born in this country, and that he is building a big government, getting away from their idea of what America has been—and they want it back.

They also feel that too much attention has been given to problems facing Blacks and that Obama’s policies have favored Blacks over Whites. However, they must have been under a rock somewhere and couldn’t hear the complaint of Blacks who say that, in fact, he has not paid much attention to them and their needs. So, one wonders where these beliefs are coming from since, facts are not important.

These beliefs seems to be coming from a group that is largely over 45 years old, steeped in the values of privileged traditional White-dominant race-relations in the past, carrying the large weight of a Southern resentment toward Blacks. This was hinted at by Gov. Haley Barbour who was interviewed about Virginia Gov. .Robert McDonnell’s proclamation of Confederate History Month that left out slavery. Barbour’s view was that this wasn’t very important. This signals that these beliefs are coming from key leaders of the Republican Party, helping to embolden and legitimize the race-haters.

The fact is that just like the health care fight, the attitudes of the right have little to do with the fine points of legislation they oppose, rather what they oppose is a government run by a Black man. So, the fight takes place in coded massages like “smaller government.” Well, The Wall Street Journal considers the extension of unemployment insurance to be “welfare” and Tea Partyers think it means the same thing as the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children they think still exists. The ignorance of this crowd makes it dangerous.

So, the fight over financial services will liven up but don’t forget that there is a consumer protection agency in the new bills that would protect Americans from unfair and deceptive practices from financial products. It would create a consumer hot-line and monitor rates that banks could charge on mortgage loans and credit cards, ending secret fees charged by financial institutions. This is a reason to keep one’s eye on the ball and not be sucked into the trap laid by the arguments that will go on over other aspects of financial regulation.

Just like the health care fight, Republicans want Democrats to scrap the existing legislation and “start over” in order to achieve a “bipartisan bill.” But they have no intention of the sort. They want to kill financial regulations, deprive the administration of another win and nationalize the fall campaign. Already, we are hearing that they will create a new “Contract on America” similar to that Newt Gingrich and company used in the Republican revolution of 1994. This time, however, if enough people really understand that they could care less about resolving their problems, it may not work.

(Dr. Ron Walters is a political analysts and professor emeritus at the University of Maryland College Park.)

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