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Correct problems in Dodd-Frank law

Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling is not a fan of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, the massive banking legislation passed in the wake of the financial crisis. He believes it has slowed the U.S. economy by burdening small banks and credit unions with costly regulations that have choked off lending to the small businesses that create most of the nation’s jobs.

Hensarling says Dodd-Frank is also the reason that one out of five credit-worthy borrowers in 2010 cannot qualify for a loan today, and why banks have raised fees to the point that a rising number of Americans can no longer afford to maintain a bank account. Before Dodd-Frank, 75 percent of banks offered free checking. Half of those now charge fees.

This is no boon to the consumer, despite the law’s creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Hensarling calls “the single most powerful and least accountable federal agency” in the government. He’s backed up in that by a federal appeals court, which held in October that the structure of the agency is unconstitutional. It is run by a single director, appointed by the president, who can’t be fired without “cause.”

In September, Hensarling, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced the Financial CHOICE Act, a bill that would restructure the CFPB, replacing its unaccountable director with a bipartisan five-member commission and putting its budget, currently funded by the Federal Reserve, under the control of Congress. The bill would also release smaller banks from the regulations passed for big banks.

Even one of the men whose name is on the Dodd-Frank law, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, admitted recently that it was “a mistake” to apply the extra supervision required by the law to smaller banks, those with $50 billion in assets. Frank now says the threshold should have been much higher, $125 billion or more.

In September, the Financial CHOICE Act faced a certain veto from the White House, but it has received a warmer welcome at Trump Tower. Hensarling met with the president-elect in mid-November and was said to be under consideration to become Treasury secretary.

Financial reform should be a bipartisan priority. There’s no reason to preserve the errors in legislation passed under pressure six years ago.

​The Orange County Register, Nov. 26

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Dylann Roof will feel the full force of the courts

Last week, a federal judge ruled that white supremacist and accused mass murderer Dylann Roof is competent to stand trial on 33 counts of hate crimes, firearms charges and the murder of nine parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015.

Roof, 22, told police when he was taken into custody that he shot the nine members of the prominent black church during a Bible study because he wanted to provoke sufficient outrage to spark a race war. There was plenty of public outrage, but it was directed at Roof, who exuded a creepy vibe from his first moments in custody.

The beginning of Roof’s trial was originally scheduled for Nov. 7, but his lawyers delayed it until his ability to aid in his own defense could be determined.

On Monday, a federal judge granted Roof’s motion to represent himself.

Now, a trial finally looms. It’s not just those who knew and loved the victims who need to see justice done, but Charleston and the people of the United States need to see it, too.

One can debate whether the racism that allegedly drove Roof to kill nine people at a Bible study was ultimately a form of insanity, but it is important that he answer for it. Virulent racism very well could be a form of insanity, but that shouldn’t exempt those who embrace it from paying for acts committed while being racist.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 28

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