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Legislation is just the start


Fri, Aug 13th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

You might imagine, now that President Obama has signed the massive financial reform package into law, that the issue is behind us. Hardly. In a way, the president's signature was just the starter's pistol.

This is because, despite its length - over 2000 pages - and the many months of negotiations that went into crafting it, the financial overhaul measure leaves countless issues to be resolved later by federal regulators and the lobbyists who will try to influence their decisions. It is a textbook example of the limits inherent in a legislative product, and of the manner in which Congress relies on a mix of concrete action and ambiguous ball-punting to cobble together a majority.

The law undoubtedly changes the nation's financial landscape. It creates a new Bureau of Financial Consumer Protection; strengthens regulation of financial holding companies; regulates derivatives; places new limits - the so-called "Volcker Rule" - on the amount of money a bank can invest in hedge funds and private equity funds; buttresses the Securities and Exchange Commission; and tries to discourage excessive risk-taking.

It is also filled with the sorts of compromises the legislative process demands. The "Volcker Rule" was written off, watered down, and then somewhat re-strengthened on its way to passage. The consumer protection agency was initially to be a standalone regulator, but then was placed within the Federal Reserve in order to calm some concerns. The language on derivatives went through a complex series of balance-seeking negotiations between those who wanted highly restrictive regulation and those who opposed it.

The result is a grand and sweeping law that nonetheless leaves many issues unresolved and much room for interpretation in the future. When you have such ambiguities in new statutes - as is frequently the case - it amounts to an invitation to further struggle on the part of the bureaucrats who must give shape and form to the ideas contained in the measure, and the lobbyists whose clients have much at stake in the results.

According to an analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the measure calls for 350 rules to be formulated, 47 studies to be conducted - which is Congress' way of signaling action on an issue without actually making any decisions - and 74 reports. The creation of new entities - the consumer protection agency, a board of regulators to assess risk in the financial system - also will engender much execut .....
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One Moment Please - It's not about religion

Fri, Aug 13th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

Recent news of a proposed Islamic community center and mosque to be located two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City has stimulated quite a reaction in the realm of ..... 
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One moment, please... Bigger than ourselves

Fri, Aug 6th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

I would like to personally thank all of the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce committee members involved in putting together the first-ever CMA Mudracing Event and Big Bo ..... 
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We were strangers, too

Fri, Jul 30th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

It's all exhausting, isn't it? We have news 24/7 on TV, subscribe to papers and periodicals and listen to endless conversation about each headline. For all of that, we really know so little about any of it. We seem to be offered enough to agree with ..... 
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One moment, please... What is health care?

Fri, Jul 30th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

Last week, I defined some of the dynamics of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise referred to as health care reform.

Personally, before I ca ..... 
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Fueling freedom

Fri, Jul 23rd, 2010
Posted in Commentary

The BP oil spill disaster - a catastrophe that has led to untold damage to the economy, wildlife and the environment along the Gulf Coast - opened our eyes to what can happen when there is a lack of serious regulation. This, however, is not the only ..... 
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One moment, please... Health care reform?

Fri, Jul 23rd, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

I've been meaning to offer some thoughts on the passage of the health care reform bill, but the steady distraction of an earwig invasion has taken my attention elsewhere ..... 
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Tim Walz deserves praise, not attacks, for his leadership on DISCLOSE Act

Fri, Jul 16th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Last January, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned decades of law, giving corporations the power to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence U.S. elections. After the Court's ruling in the "Citizens United" case, there are no restrictions on forei ..... 
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One Moment Please - The next election

Fri, Jul 16th, 2010
Posted in Commentary

Publisher of the Fillmore County Journal, cell phone number 507-251-5297

As July creeps by in the unassuming resemblance of a mid-summer nights dream, politicians plot and plan like General Petreaus on a victory voyage scheduled for an early ..... 
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