Why is Obama asking for new power for the Treasury?

By Divorced one like Bush

This past weekend I wrote about the OCC, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and 4 rulings that this office has made over the last two presidencies.
1. Preventing state AG’s and the state banking departments from investigating and regulating national banks. 2004.
2. Allowing Banks to become real estate developers and managers to including wind mill operations. 2006
3. Asserting that credit card insurance via telemarketing was not insurance and thus again immune from state AG’s and the state insurance departments. 2002 This particular ruling being the result of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. The act that is now pegged as THE deregulating action of the current economic mess.
4. Allowing banks to sell insurance. 1996.

All four are clearly rulings that can have lines drawn directly to the what we are hearing today as to why the alphabet soup of “financial products” created by “to big to fail” entities have required a combination of delivering funds and pledging funds to the tune of around $9.5 trillion dollars. I googled the current number and could only find numbers dating from December 2008 such as this site suggesting then the total was $8.5 trillion.

We really need to start talking about the OCC. It is a player, if not the behind the scene player of a lot of what has become our financial system. Note, I did not say banking system. That is key.

Ok, yesterday it was proposed that as part of the solution, our Treasury head needs some new power. Already leadership is say “Yes”.

This call for power with an already announced “Yes” immediately sets off my suspicion meter. After 8 years of power being concentrated into the hands of the one (Homeland Security), unitary executive powers still being exercised by Obama, lobbyist run wild, departments turned from working for the people to working for the industry (see labor, FDA, military), no bid contracts and their results, $9 billion in bundled crisp new hundred dollar bills missing in Iraq, Paulson asking for $750 billion, not strings attached (add yours here)…

You want to give the power to say “yeh” or “nay” on a financial institution to one person? Have we not learned?

Then it dawned on me. Think about the 1996 OCC ruling and the 2002. Think about the praise for the FDIC and the job it has been doing. Here is an entire entity congress created to take care of failed banks. Ah, you say entities like AIG are not banks, so there is no jurisdiction. At least that is what we are being told. However, being that the OCC has in it’s rulings merged the banking, real estate and insurance industries (specifically ruling what was and was not insurance) I will not accept that all those smart lawyers in congress and the one that heads the White House would not be able to produce a winning argument that by the actions of the OCC rulings, the FDIC already has the authority to do to AIG what it has currently been doing.

That lead me to look at the FDIC web site. In particular, it’s “About” page:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is an independent agency created by the Congress that maintains the stability and public confidence in the nation’s financial system by insuring deposits, examining and supervising financial institutions, and managing receiverships.

It does not say “banks”. It says “financial systems” and “managing receiverships”.

Not enough for you. Consider there was an advisory committee created in 2002 by the then Chair Donald Powell.

Scope and Objectives: The Committee will provide advice and recommendations on a broad range of issues relating to the FDIC’s mission and activities, including, but not limited to: the delivery of services by the FDIC, its corporate infrastructure, and policy initiatives in the areas of deposit insurance, supervision of financial institutions, resolutions and management of failing and failed institutions, and other issues impacting the financial services industry.

It did not say “banking” or “banks” here either. And it specifically talks about exactly what we have here today: failed and failing institution. You can not get away from the all inclusive “financial services industry”.

Want more? Consider the bio of the current chair:

Before her appointment to the FDIC, Ms. Bair was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst since 2002.

The FDIC is already the entity with the power that Obama is now requesting for his surrogate. On the plus side in my book, it is an agency created from the destruction of the last time we were here. It is a New Deal institution and that makes it clean in my mind (at least cleaner than more recently created entities). So, even if I’m wrong, and I don’t think I am because this nation for 13 years now has been blurring the line between banks, insurance and recently real estate to the point that it is one big industry and that counts when you go in front of a judge, the correct request that we should have been hearing from Obama is to expand the definition of banking to clarify all these new mongrel banking entities such that the entity this nation created specifically to do what the Treasury is asking for can do the job without question of jurisdiction. Simple, neat, maintains separation of power and not bureaucracy expanding.

So why didn’t he?