Monday, September 14, 2009

Financial Reform Still Needed

Today marked the one-year anniversary of the financial calamity on Wall Street that nearly took down our financial system. President Obama marked the occasion by delivering a speech directed at Wall Street saying, in part, "We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess." For our country's sake as well as the welfare of millions of its citizens I hope the President is correct in his prediction. But I fear the reform effort that at one time was embraced with fervor by the Obama administration and certain key congressional members like Senator Chris Dodd, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, is losing much of its steam. I read in the Wall Street Journal and other publications that some of the same risk-taking, exotic financial instruments and trader big bonuses are returning to the Wall Street landscape. Big banks including Goldman Sachs, who along with other "too big to fail" banking institutions that received huge federal taxpayer bailouts are seemingly flaunting inflated profit numbers with some of the same excesses of the past, despite the President's optimism, including penalizing their very best customers with new fees, increased interest rates, dropping credit lines and overly restrictive loan underwriting standards. While the overall financial environment has certainly improved from its near disastrous plunge of one year ago, can we now afford to sink into complacency and lulled into some false sense of security? No. I feel that the financial system is still fragile and it is more important now than ever to promote the cause of reform while the "iron is hot." Yes, health insurance reform is important as are other administration priorities but government and congressional leaders cannot lose sight of the pressing need for financial reform and restructuring. The current system remains ripe for abuse and greed. Like a child who has been repeatedly scolded not to raid the cookie jar without parental (governmental) oversight the temptation will always be present. President Obama and Chairman Dodd, I implore you not to retreat at this sensitive time and to keep the fire of reform burning bright. A reoccurrence of what happened one year ago that revealed such widespread abuse cannot be allowed. Too much is at stake and wavering is too dangerous to even imagine.

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