My fellow Americans, when it comes to financial reform, are conflicted. President Obama’s thrust to overhaul health care plopped him right at the country’s breakfast table, where Americans pay their insurance bills and worry over Aunt Millie’s hip surgery. The charge to change how Wall Street is regulated – where credit default swaps are traded or what limits should be put on leverage – is not the stuff of everyday conversations. Most of us don’t feel up to speed on such topics, which dampens our conviction and our combativeness.
On the one hand, a lot of folks around the nation are pretty sure that Wall Street caused eight million people to lose their jobs and the federal deficit to skyrocket. They are also convinced that bankers don’t always operate in an ethical and open manner. The Goldman Sachs suit was proof to some that our financial markets are rigged. Tea Partiers and many others opposed the Wall Street bailouts because they were outraged that the traders at the heart of the meltdown should be propped up with their hard-earned money. The dots connecting those bailouts and their futures were very, very faint.
On the other hand, Americans, especially those in the Tea Party movement, but also others who consider themselves conservative or independent, don’t much like big government. Senator Chris Dodd’s financial overhaul provides for more regulators, 1,300 pages (and growing) of increased bureaucracy and more people who can step in the way of a business deal. They are skeptical that the government can outsmart the big money guys and are certain that all those pages don’t contain a recipe for new job growth in the private sector or a magic bullet to prevent another financial downturn in the future. Moreover, they are absolutely positive that these changes won’t reduce the budget deficit. They are right.
Liz Peek is a financial, political and social columnist. She is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum. For more, visit LizPeek.com.
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