After MoJo Story, Treasury Department Clarifies Its Stance on Financial Reform Bills

Treasury Secretary Jack LewZhang Jun/Xinhua/ZUMAPress

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


This post has been updated.

On Wednesday, Mother Jones ran a story on how newly-minted Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is reluctant to take a stand against a series of Wall Street deregulation bills now being considered by the House Financial Services Committee. After the story pubbed, a spokeswoman for Treasury got in touch with Mother Jones to clarify its position.

Last year, Geithner slammed a series of seven bills that would have deregulated Wall Street banks. Those bills never made it to the Senate before the last Congress ended, but a spate of nearly identical bills are being considered again. When asked by Mother Jones whether Lew would echo Geithner’s opposition to them, Lew’s office had no comment, but pointed to recent testimony by another Treasury official warning against messing with the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, the sweeping 2010 law aimed at preventing another 2008-style financial crisis.

Once the story started making the rounds, a spokeswoman for Lew called Mother Jones. “Of course the Treasury secretary would oppose any effort to weaken Wall Street reform,” she said. She pointed to Lew’s recent comments on Bloomberg television. “The purpose of Dodd-Frank was to make sure the American taxpayer would never again be in the position where they had to step in when banks failed,” he told the news channel. “We are committed to that purpose.”

Lew’s spokeswoman also pointed out that Geithner made his statement condemning the bills last year after several of the them had already moved out of committee, and some had passed the House. “We didn’t send the letter until after committee mark up, not while the bills were still in committee,” she said. “It doesn’t mean it won’t happen.” Reformers complain that silence—or stalling, as it may be—on Lew’s part corresponds with Obama administration’s general reluctance to protect Dodd-Frank from attacks on all sides, whether that be in the courts, or regulatory agencies, or in Congress.

The seven deregulatory bills have been presented as technical fixes to Dodd-Frank, but most of them aren’t. One bill would allow certain derivatives that are traded among a corporation’s various affiliates to be exempt from almost all new Dodd-Frank regulations. Another measure would expand the types of trading risks that banks can take on. A third bill would allow big multinational US banks to escape US regulations by operating through international arms.

Financial reform advocates say it’s way too early to alter Dodd-Frank, because even though it is technically the law of the land, regulatory agencies have yet to finish crafting it into rules that can be enforced. Whatever Lew’s reasons for waiting to denounce lawmakers’ efforts to gut Wall Street reform, reform advocates are hoping he’ll stick to a recent promise his spokeswoman pointed to: “We have to finish implementing [Dodd-Frank],” he said on CNBC. “I’m committed to using the authority that I have to drive that process forward.”

Update: After this story, the Treasury Department got in touch with Mother Jones to further reiterate its support for Dodd-Frank.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate