Obama prods regulators to implement Dodd-Frank overhaul

Regulators have reportedly missed 60 percent of the deadlines to write rules seeking to prevent a credit meltdown.
Associated Press/File 2007
Regulators have reportedly missed 60 percent of the deadlines to write rules seeking to prevent a credit meltdown.

WASHINGTON — Three years after President Obama signed an overhaul of lending and high-finance rules, execution of the law is behind schedule, with scores of regulations yet to be written, let alone enforced. Meeting privately with the nation’s top financial regulators on Monday, Obama prodded them to act more swiftly.

The president’s push comes as the five-year anniversary of the nation’s financial near-meltdown approaches. The law, when passed in 2010, was considered a milestone in Obama’s presidency, a response to the crisis that led to a massive government bailout to stabilize the financial markets.

But the slow pace of implementation has prompted administration concern that banks could still pose potentially calamitous risks to the economy and to taxpayers. Obama hoped to convey ‘‘the sense of urgency that he feels,’’ spokesman Josh Earnest said before the president convened the meeting with the eight independent regulators in the White House Roosevelt Room.


Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008, and the administration has wanted to use that dubious milestone to look back on the lessons of the crisis and progress so far to prevent a recurrence. In a statement at the conclusion of the meeting, the White House said Obama commended the regulators for their work ‘‘but stressed the need to expeditiously finish implementing the critical remaining portions of Wall Street reform to ensure we are able to prevent the type of financial harm that led to the Great Recession from ever happening again.’’

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Most Republican lawmakers do not share that sentiment about the law, known as Dodd-Frank after its Democratic sponsors, Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. Both have retired from Congress.

Republican House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling dismissed Obama’s meeting with the regulators, saying, ‘‘Much like Obamacare, Dodd-Frank is an incomprehensively complex piece of legislation that is harmful to our floundering economy and in dire need of repeal.’’

The law set up a council of regulators to be on the lookout for risks across the financial system. It also created an independent consumer financial protection bureau within the Federal Reserve to write and enforce regulations covering lending and credit. And it placed shadow financial markets that previously escaped the oversight of regulators under new scrutiny, giving the government new powers to break up companies that regulators believe threaten the economy.

But because of the complexity of the industry, the law gave regulators extended time to write the new rules.


So far, regulators have missed 60 percent of the rule-making deadlines, according to an analysis by the law firm DavisPolk, which has been tracking progress on the law. Even so, the rules are so complicated that the ones already written have filled about 13,800 pages of regulations.