Sen. Lincoln makes the case for passing financial reform bill

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 14 – In a Senate floor speech Wednesday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) urged colleagues to pass the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill. The legislation includes her tough new trading and reporting rules for the largely unregulated $600 trillion derivatives market which played a major role in triggering the global financial crisis.

Lincoln explained that the bill “will rein in the reckless Wall Street behavior that nearly destroyed our economy, hurting Arkansas small businesses and costing millions of Americans their jobs. In 2008, our nation’s economy was on the brink of collapse. America was being held captive by a financial system that was so interconnected, so large and so irresponsible that our economy and our way of life were about to be destroyed.”

Recalling a moment that many senators describe as a chilling, life-changing experience, Lincoln said that “I will never forget the sobering meetings in the Capitol with then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke who informed us of the imminent collapse of the US economy. Overnight, the United States of America, the most powerful economic power on the globe had been brought to the brink of collapse.” She said that “Congress has a duty to the people we represent and to future generations of Americans to ensure that this country’s economic security is never again put in jeopardy” and promised that “These reforms will get banks back to the business of banking, protect innocent depositors and ensure taxpayers will never again have to foot the bill for risky Wall Street gambling.”

But Lincoln didn't promise an instant fix. Instead, she acknowledgws that it's now up to the regulators to flesh out the complex, economy-wide bill by writing implementing rules and regulations, a perhaps year-long process which has already begun. She said Congress will oversee the process to ensure that “our vision of strong reform is implemented properly.”

Representing a largely rural state, Lincoln specifically noted that she is determined to “ensure that our community banks are able to continue to meet the lending needs of rural America and will not be subject to unintended consequences. Our community banks did not create this problem and should not be shouldered with the burden of paying for the solution.”

Now that at least three Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Scott Brown (MA) are expected to support the bill along with late-day convert Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), the Senate very likely will pass the bill without any more delays. Since the House has already passed the bill, the next step will be for President Obama to sign the bitterly contested legislation into law.

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