Editorials

Congress backslides on Dodd-Frank regulations

It was inevitable that as time passed after the Great Recession of 2008-09 the financial industry would pressure lawmakers to allow the Wall Street cowboys to ride again.

And that is exactly what is happening, which ought to alarm all Americans shaken by foreclosures, by the loss of assets in 401ks and other accounts wounded in the downturn and fretting that the big banks would fall back into bad habits.

Consider: As part of the $1.1 trillion government spending bill passed last week, Congress approved an amendment that removes the prohibition on banks gambling on risky trading operations using taxpayer-insured deposits. The change eliminates a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the overhaul of finance industry regulations passed in response to the financial crisis.

"It was a step in the wrong direction," said U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew. Despite that concern, President Barack Obama had little choice but to sign the bill Tuesday. A veto could have led to a government shutdown. Fortunately, other important elements of Dodd-Frank remain and the president is still committed to fully implementing the law.

Americans are angry that so many of the Wall Street gamblers who helped to create the crisis walked away rich and without jail time. But if controls slide back, watch out. It appears the dice and the money are coming back on the table. If the gamblers lose this time, taxpayers shouldn't have to pay again.

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