|Tallahassee Democrat Op-Ed: Federal banking bill an attempt to tear down Obama legacy|
By Alvin Brown
When President Obama took office in 2009, he inherited a financial crisis the scale of which our country had not seen since the Great Depression. Millions of Americans lost their homes, their jobs and their life savings. We were hemorrhaging more than 800,000 jobs a month at the height of the global economic meltdown.
Congress responded by passing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the most comprehensive financial reform legislation since the 1930s. After years of unchecked recklessness, the post-crisis legislation instituted safeguards to hold big banks accountable, protect consumers and prevent another devastating financial collapse. Dodd-Frank served as a building block for economic growth, making our financial system stronger and safer for everyday Americans.
Recently Congress moved to roll back these critical measures, scaling back protections for homeowners and putting taxpayers at risk of another bank bailout. Dismantling Dodd-Frank was a top priority of Donald Trump when he was running for president, as he vowed to “do a big number” on the law. Unsurprisingly, Trump wasted no time following through on said promise.
What is surprising and unfortunate, however, is the number of Democrats who joined Trump and this Republican Congress in what is a clear attempt to tear down President Obama’s legislative legacy. Seventeen Democrats in the U.S. Senate and 33 in the House supported it, including my opponent, Al Lawson.
Those who voted for this misguided bill claim it will help small community banks and increase protections for consumers. If that were the case, it would have passed unanimously. Instead, it reduces bank oversight that was specifically designed to avoid a repeat of a decade ago, ultimately putting our financial system at undue risk and hurting consumers in the long run.
Let’s call this bill for what it is: a massive giveaway to big banks. All the while, banks are raking in record profits, boasting an increase of more than 27 percent over last year.
Before the House approved this irresponsible bill, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report estimating the legislation will increase the federal deficit by $671 million and increase the likelihood of bank failures. Talk about fiscal responsibility.
This is yet another example of Washington choosing special interests over hardworking Americans. Rather than prioritizing higher wages to keep up with the cost of living and jobs that will actually grow the middle class, Trump and his allies in Congress are further stacking the deck against hardworking Americans. For decades, the rich in this country have gotten richer, income inequality has widened and millions of poor and middle-class Americans have been left behind.
Until we tackle this problem, the devastating reality of financial instability in the U.S. will continue. We need leaders who will fight for policies that promote economic opportunity for all – not just the top one percent.
Alvin Brown served as the Mayor of Jacksonville from 2011-2015 and is currently running for Congress to represent Florida’s 5th District, which includes Baker, Gadsden, Hamilton and Madison counties as well as parts of Columbia, Duval, Jefferson and Leon counties.