"We have laws against suicide, but that doesn't stop people from killing themselves" -- Speaker John Boehner
The Dodd-Frank Act is a federal law that tasks the government with regulating financial institutions. The legislation created new processes that enforce transparency and accountability. The act also spawned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which aims to protect consumers from unregulated banks. At the heart of the debate over JPMorgan's failures under the purview of Dodd-Frank is the Volker rule, which bans banks from speculating on bets with company finances. However, an exemption exists regarding trades made to hedge risk.
Boehner added that "as long as depositors' money wasn't at risk and as long as there's no risk of a taxpayer bailout, they should be held accountable by the market and their shareholders." And based on industry reports, shareholders are taking JPMorgan to task. Since the disclosure of the trading losses, the bank's stock has declined by 20 percent, hacking away $30 billion of its former market value. Boehner, emboldened by the news, then declared all government regulations to be expensive, meaningless obstacles to real action.
"If this doesn't prove Ayn Rand right, I don't know what does," Speaker Boehner said. "Markets will police themselves without requiring taxpayers to dole out unnecessary funds to watch the watchmen. We see this truth evidenced time and time again. There's no such thing as anarchy in a capitalist society, but there can be fascism once you start spending that money to employ babysitters."
As one example, Boehner cited a proposal to prohibit smoking -- a costly undertaking that would require paying for legislation, television and print ads, signage, enforcement, and eventually the formation of a large federal oversight committee. Such efforts would also effectively shutter an entire industry and cause soaring unemployment.
"As conservatives, we believe the government has no right to tell you what to do with your body, your moral convictions, or your health," Boehner explained. "Can you imagine if the government restricted you from marrying someone you loved, or stopped you from serving your country because the military suddenly outlawed people with freckles from enlisting? That's absurd. That's not the American way, even if Democrats tell you it is."
Boehner offered Congress an exhaustive list of regulatory bodies and enforcement agencies that could be done away with tomorrow, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) , the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and most others.
"Of course, silly people will ask what would happen without regulations," Boehner said. "The answer is plenty. You have a Fukushima-sized disaster and investors shy away. And with all the dead, who's left to pay utilities bills? The profits for that plant will tank, leaving it to teeter on the verge of bankruptcy -- never to harm anyone again. No need for the EPA or the NRC. Let's say you run an unsafe, negligent workplace. Employees get hurt, sue you, and quit. Now you're out of business. And if you don't want to hire blacks, don't. But be prepared for rioting that will burn your investment to the ground. And if someone comes into your neighborhood and kills one of your kids, chances are that guy isn't going to make it to his car alive. It's the police who stop concerned citizens from taking the law into their own hands -- because that takes bread off their tables. Bread you bought. Just think, we could eliminate an expensive and inefficient penal system as well. Everybody wins when the government loses, folks."
(c) 2012. See disclaimers.
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