For the past few years, the American taxpayer has been forced to rescue Wall Street institutions from self-inflicted financial ruin. While Main Street continues to bear the pain associated with poor financial choices, the bailout precedent provides little incentive for financial institutions to change their ways and avoid making irresponsible decisions.
Many Democrats have accused Republicans of acting as a roadblock to financial regulatory reform. This could not be further from the truth.
We have a plan for reform that better addresses the root causes of the financial collapse and protects Americans from paying for Wall Street's mistakes.
This plan, introduced last year by the House Financial Services Committee Republicans, provides for enhanced bankruptcy — an approach that would set up a new chapter to handle the failure of highly complex entities. This type of bankruptcy will ensure the orderly unwinding of firms in a downward spiral without shifting the burden to hardworking Americans.
Under this new chapter of bankruptcy, regulators will coordinate with and assist the courts to ensure that the plan approved by the judge is sufficient for the complexity of the institution. The judges will also be able to prevent panic and instability in the case of a faltering large firm by staying the claims of creditors, which would prevent runs on the troubled institutions.
In a strong free-market system, all participants should know the rules of the game. When the government provides bailouts for some institutions and not others, market instability ensues. Our new chapter of bankruptcy would be consistent for all large and complex actors within the financial system and will strip the unsavory power of picking winners and losers from the federal government.
Recognizing that there are bad actors in any market system, true financial regulatory reform should include protections for consumers. The House Republican plan would increase investment fraud enforcement and monitoring of systemic market risk through increased coordination between regulators. Rather than creating new bureaucracy, we should maximize the effectiveness and coordination of our existing regulators.
In an effort to deter fraud, we are seeking to increase monetary penalties for those who deceive investors. The increased fines collected from civil and criminal actions against those who would defraud the market would help offset the damage to the system and would prevent future acts by handing out more than a slap on the wrist. Innocent victims of this type of fraud need every remedy available to them to recover their money, which is why our proposal includes provisions that would increase restitution remedies for these victims.
Enough is enough.
Will Congressional leadership have the courage to stand up for Main Street and enact financial regulatory reform that truly restores accountability to our markets and protects the American taxpayer from future bailouts?
As debate continues in the Senate, it is my hope that Republican ideas on financial reform will be included and the final product will be truly bipartisan. Financial reform is too important to be subjected to the partisan ideas of only one party. The integrity of our financial system is crucial to the success and safety of our country. For better or worse, what happens on Wall Street has far-reaching implications for the hardworking folks across our nation. We must take a bipartisan approach to this problem.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is the ranking member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.