Out of the Woods / Thankfully adding up Obama's financial moves
Yesterday, I thought about everything in our great country for which I am thankful. At the top of my list is the fact that Barack Obama is our president. Not any of the uninspiring Republican candidates vying for the GOP nomination that we have seen in the debates on television.
Just out of curiosity, I looked back exactly one year to see what I had written about Thanksgiving in 2010. Here's what I said:
"This Thanksgiving I am grateful, more than ever, that America elected Obama as our president. This may be counterintuitive in light of all the fire he's taking from both the left and the right, but I prefer to put into perspective what he has accomplished since he was elected last November. For me -- and I think millions of other Americans -- he is still our best hope."
I still feel the same today -- only more so. I make my case by listing his accomplishments in the realm of financial changes -- arguably the most important issue right now because the campaign, already under way, is clearly about the economy.
During this holiday break, I think it might be uplifting for my fellow Westporters, who may be somewhat disillusioned, to "keep the faith" by reading a list the record of Obama's broad economic policies in the financial arena. According to information culled from the Internet, Obama has been instrumental in:
1. Establishing the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
2. Establishing the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability to assist in financial education for all Americans.
3. Restoring the American Financial Stability Act of 2010.
4. Passing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the biggest financial reform law since the Great Depression.
5. Managing the Troubled Asset Relief Program .
6. Passing the Pension relief Act of 2010.
7. Passing the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act.
8. Playing a lead role in the G-20 Summit re: financial crisis.
9. Reforming deferral rules to curb tax advantages for investing overseas.
10. Establishing new offshore investment policy that promotes in-sourcing.
In the realm of funding, Obama has succeeded in:
1. Cutting salaries for 65 bailout executives.
2. Forcing banks to repay 75 percent of TARP funds, bringing the cost down to $89 billion.
3. Closing offshore tax safe havens, tax credit loopholes.
Other target actions include:
1.Creating the Financial Stability Oversight Council to monitor stability of the financial system and individual firms.
2. Setting new requirements for reporting financial data.
3. Creating self-funded Office of Financial Research (OFR) to collect information from financial firms.
4. Making administration employees wait a year before working for certain financial firms.
5. Providing for orderly liquidation of financial companies.
6. Limiting trading activities of banks-- the Volker Rule -- beginning two years after passage
7. Ensuring that derivatives must be traded transparently through a clearing house.
8. Defining the amount and nature of assets required to meet capital requirements.
9. Originating the plan that asset-backed securities must retain five percent ownership/risk
10. Creating a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
11. Strengthening the client fiduciary duty for broker-dealers,
12. Setting higher standards for securities advertising and disclosures.
13. Setting higher standards for systemically important ($50 billion assets institutions, including annual stress tests and restrictions on bank acquisitions).
14.Issuing compensation guidelines for bank executive salaries and bonuses.
15.Making certain that financial agencies establish Offices of Women and Minorities to promote more diverse hiring.
16. Introducing the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act.
17. Reforming debit card swipe fees.
18. Creating new criminal penalties for mortgage fraud.
19.Making Congress pursue Goldman Sachs for securities violations.
Woody Klein is a Westport writer. His "Out of the Woods" usually appears every other Wednesday but appears today because of the Thanksgiving holiday.