“The first step in doing anything is to get the ideas out there,” said Alex Pollock, a financial expert with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning Washington think tank. But “it’s very unclear what kinds of things can be done or not done, but we should certainly have the discussions.”
One area where Mr. Bachus could hold some tangible sway is through oversight hearings. With the Dodd-Frank Act giving federal regulators significant discretion in how the law is administered, the committee is expected to frequently call regulators to the Capitol, giving the chairman-elect a bully pulpit to exert influence.
“You’re not going to be able to break the regulators; you’ll be able to bend them a little bit to your direction,” Mr. Calabria said. “The regulators definitely bend to whose in the majority — they know who butters the bread at the end of the day.”
Democrats have accused Mr. Bachus — who supported the Bush administration’s 2008 Wall Street bailout program — of being too cozy with the financial world. Because of this, they say, the conservative “tea party” movement that helped sweep more than 80 freshman House Republicans to victory in last month’s midterm elections could soon turn on him.
“Republicans putting Spencer Bachus in charge of financial regulation is voting for the fox to guard the hen house,” said Ryan Rudominer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It “is a clear sign that House Republicans have no intention to honor their promise to change how business is done in Washington.”
Mr. Bachus accused the Democrats of hypocrisy, saying the party has “been in bed with some of their friends on Wall Street and very much against some of the other people on Wall Street — I think they pick winners and losers.”
The lawmaker added it’s wrong to characterize all big financial institutions as nefarious, saying that most act responsibly.
“I view Wall Street as part of the American financial system and an overall economy that just brought greater prosperity to our country — and liquidity and credit — than in any other country in the world,” he said.
“Wall Street ought to play by the same rules as Main Street, but I’m no enemy of Wall Street. And I don’t paint everyone with the same brush.”
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Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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