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A New Round of Trump vs. Democrats

Phil Hall
Nov 18, 2016
It has been 10 days since Donald Trump won the presidential election, and the incoming chief executive is being excoriated by congressional Democrats and the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve

It has been 10 days since Donald Trump won the presidential election, and the incoming chief executive is being excoriated by congressional Democrats and the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.

Earlier this week, a quartet of prominent liberal Democrats—Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Reps. Maxine Wates (D-CA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) attempted to lasso the financial services industry into the controversy surrounding the presence of Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon within the new administration.

"As leaders in the business community, you have a moral obligation to speak out against this appointment as contrary to the values of this country and to the values of your industry," the legislators wrote in a letter sent to industry trade groups, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Community Home Lenders Association and the Community Mortgage Lenders of America. "We urge you to condemn this appointment immediately and without reservation … "You have influence over the conduct of the next Administration and a clear opportunity to announce unequivocally that the banking and finance industry will not tolerate bigotry and prejudice. What message will it send to your customers and employees if you remain silent?"

None of the financial services trade groups contacted by the legislators publicly acknowledged or responded to their call to rebuke Bannon’s affiliation with the president-elect. Elsewhere in Washington, a clear rebuke of Trump’s campaign pledge to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act came from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

“We lived through a devastating financial crisis and a high priority for all Americans I think should be we that want to see put in place safeguards through supervision and regulation that result in a safer and sounder financial system,” Yellen said yesterday during congressional testimony. “And I think we have been doing that and our financial system as a consequence is safer and sounder and many of the appropriate reforms are embodied in Dodd-Frank.”

Yellen, who was nominated to her position by President Obama in 2013, added that she that she “certainly would not want to see all the improvements that we have put in place, I wouldn’t want to see the clock turned back on those because I do think they are important in diminishing the odds of another financial crisis.” She also insisted that she would serve out her Fed term until it expires in 2018, a reference to Trump’s campaign statements that he lacked faith in her leadership and would replace her at the Fed’s helm.

A new wild card thrown into the mix is a New York Times report that Trump selected Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to become his attorney general. Sessions’ senatorial career has not focused on the financial services world, although he opposed bailing out the major Wall Street firms via the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the bank bailout), arguing that it "undermines our heritage of law and order, and is an affront to the principle of separation of powers." Initial criticism of Sessions from Democrats is focusing on his handling of social issues rather than whether he would be a vigorous prosecutor of financial malfeasance. 

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