Regulation, not restraint

Lenny McAllister Contributor
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Either Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) has learned his lesson concerning voters’ outrage after the recent health care process or he is lining himself up early for another round of a Cornhusker Kickback. After his vote against getting debate going on financial reform legislation, Nelson’s vote echoes the sentiment bellowing through the halls of Congress as a statement that begs the question:

When is too much regulation enough to be too much restraint on American businesses?

And before anyone gets into a discussion on the ethics (or lack thereof) of American big business that caused this economic crisis, let me remind everyone of the #1 priority that President Obama and most Americans noted at the beginning of 2010:

A stronger economy and more American jobs.

Too much regulation will not facilitate that.

That is why it is refreshing to see that the Democrat-controlled Congress will not be able to move forward with their pre-packaged legislation as they were able to do with the health care vote. Because of the limiting power of too much regulation on the ability of American business to compete internationally, Congress must take a tempered approach—the approach sorely lacking during the partisan-driven health care reform process—to make sure that regulation is effective without being restrictive of opportunities to revitalize American businesses.

As this financial reform process continues on, we will see the intent of congressional leadership coming into play.

A progressive approach to financial reform—namely, a directive that promotes safety and regulatory measures that protect the American consumer from financial hardship while offering economic prosperity in the near future—is a must. However, with the level of anger coming from the American people over this crisis, the Democrats are tempted to placate this populism with overreaching measures (sound familiar?) that will be more punitive in action than empowering for the economy. This is a move that most would caution Democrats against, but with the latest campaign video from President Obama currently circulating that plays towards specific 2008 voting segments, it is clear that the Democrats are poised to do whatever it takes in order to position themselves well for November. That includes popular-sounding but poorly-enacted legislation.

When it is all said and done, American financial institutions must be positioned to make the business decisions that will allow for a faster turnaround in the economy. Taking proper risks is part of the financial arena that allows investors to make choices that will yield profits and residual benefits such as continued investors in private sector ventures that will produce jobs. Too much regulation strangles that ability, a notion that prompted President Clinton to scale back regulation during the heydays of the 1990s; (a reality about deregulation and the current crisis that those such as former economic advisor Larry Summers would soon forget.) Although too little regulation brings us to conditions such as the current crisis, discernment must be key at this point. Overreach by Congress will only lead to overreaching efforts by lobbyists and lawyers representing these institutions, all with the intent of bypassing the new rules put into place—even if that means chasing business overseas or otherwise away from the long arm of government and opportunities for everyday Americans to benefit.

For once since the Obama administration took over in Washington, both parties may be focused to work together in order to bring about true reform that is balanced and well thought-out for the long haul, not merely contrived to appease campaign promises or current populist outcries. With the proper focus on regulation and restoring opportunities for American financial prominence in the world, Congress can create gateways for protection and gateways to prosperity. Without the proper focus, perhaps the only thing created with this initial vote to block debate is the line starting behind Senator Nelson for another round of kickbacks.

Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator, podcast co-host, and the author of the book, “Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative,)” purchased online at www.tinyurl.com/lennysdiary and www.amazon.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr and on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .