Financial reforms moving fast
Health-care reform, I often whined, moved too slow. But it's worth taking a step back and noting how remarkably fast financial regulation is going.
Compare the timelines of the two: Barack Obama held the White House summit that officially kicked off health-care reform on March 5th, 2009. Max Baucus formed the 'Gang of Six' in June of that year. The Senate Finance Committee didn't see a bill until September. The House passed its bill until November. The Senate passed its bill in December. Then we went through a couple of months of negotiations and Scott Brown-related delays, and the whole thing finally passed in March of 2010. And what's important about this timeline was that health-care reform was issue #1 for the whole time. It dominated the headlines for about a year.
Now look at financial-regulation reform. The House passed its bill in December on 2009, which was while the country was focused on health-care reform. The Senate Banking Committee passed Chris Dodd's proposal on March 23, 2010, which was still while the country was focused on health-care reform. Expectations are that the bill will hit the Senate floor in late-April. And the media is only beginning to turn its attention to the issue. Complicating matters is that legislatiors, the media, and the public know a lot less about financial reform than they knew about health-care reform. We'd had health-care reform battles before, and the subject is constantly in the news. The regulatory structure housing the financial system is considerably less familiar territory, but there's a lot less time to explain it to the public, or to anyone else.
There's some political upside to that, of course. Health-care reform showed that letting bills sit around gives the opposition time to organize and supporters time to learn what it is they should feel disappointed about. Plus, Democrats want to move this bill before everyone scatters for the election.
But there's a downside, too. There's a lot about financial reform that deserves to be debate, but relatively little time in which to do it. The House has voted on legislation. The Senate is pretty sure of the shape of the legislation it means to vote on. People who wanted a chance to whip up support for something very different than what we've got have a lot less time to get the public, or any other actors, on their side.
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