U.S. Enters New Era Of Regulation

If the administration's plan was to stampede Congress with a financial-rescue plan that would give the White House a free hand to deal with the financial emergency, it has failed. Sen. Christopher Dodd says some accountability, transparency and oversight is essential.

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DANIEL SCHORR: It would be unthinkable, so says the administration, for Congress to go home at the end of this week without having enacted a clean - that is, unencumbered - emergency Treasury bailout authority.


NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: But these days around here, the unthinkable becomes almost routine. And there are stirrings in Congress favoring some form of accountability for $700 billion in debt purchases as well as some restriction on out-of-sight executive compensation. Inevitably, coming at the height of the election campaign, the financial crisis impinges on that campaign. Senator Barack Obama has been quick to point out Senator John McCain's consistent support of deregulation.

McCain, in turn, has been equally quick to criticize Obama for his slow response through the economic crisis. But electoral politics aside, we may be in a time of one of those periodic mood swings from deregulation to regulation. Theodore Roosevelt's Square Deal brought on aggressive enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act. And Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal gave us the Securities and Exchange Commission and tighter regulation of banks.

Senator Christopher Dodd, who has worked very hard on a bipartisan effort to speed a bill through Congress, says that some accountabilities, some transparency, some oversight is essential. If the administration's plan was to stampede Congress into something like the Iraq War resolution, leaving the White House with a free hand to deal with the financial emergency, well, that plan has manifestly failed.

The administration may have made a tactical mistake in inserting into its bill a section 8, which would put Treasury decisions outside the reach of any court or agency. Placing the Treasury above the law would seem to solidify the free-wheeling situation that led to this crisis in the first place.

Democrats are also asking for a provision that would put taxpayers first in line when the assets of national entities are sold off and money starts to trickle in. Maybe the administration and Congress will yet come to terms before the roof falls in. But don't bet your mortgage on it. This is Daniel Schorr.

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