The Chamber of Commerce spent $17 million on federal lobbying in the first quarter of this year, far more than any other group, and has an entire division devoted to fighting the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. It’s fair to say that they’re obsessed with defanging nearly every major piece of legislation enacted by the Obama administration, with financial reform at the top of the list.
To that end, the Chamber recently hired former Bush Administration chief of staff Andy Card and former Indiana Democratic Senator Evan Bayh to lead its new “grassroots” anti-regulation campaign over the summer. According to Chamber President Tom Donahue, new BFFs Bayh and Card “will carry a bipartisan message on regulatory reform out around the country through a ‘road show’ of speeches, events, and media appearances.” Not so long ago, Bayh was a possible vice presidential candidate for Obama and a future presidential aspirant. Now he’s just a hired gun for big business. In a delicious bit of irony, Bayh will spend the summer denouncing the very financial reform legislation he voted for while in the Senate. Whatever principles he ever had are now long gone.
The Chamber’s high-profile hires are the latest indication of how corporate America is fighting hard to roll back financial reform. Last week I detailed in The Nation how the banking lobby is trying to weaken the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before it goes live on July 21 and prevent Elizabeth Warren from becoming its permanent director. Today the New York Times reported that the implementation of Dodd-Frank is way behind schedule on a number of fronts. “So far, 28 of the financial overhaul rule-making deadlines have been missed, according to Davis Polk, a law firm that is tracking the rules,” writes Louise Story. “Of the 385 new rules to be written, the law firm says, regulators have completed only 24 requirements; they were supposed to have taken 41 such actions by now.” As Pro Publica recently noted, Dodd-Frank is quickly becoming a dud.
Congressional Republicans and their corporate benefactors would like nothing more than for financial reform to die via inertia. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) calls opponents of Dodd-Frank members of the “Financial Crisis Never Happened Caucus.” Absent strong action from the federal government, the Obama Administration may soon become its newest member.