Bankers, fearing Democrats’ ‘worst ideas,’ unite in support of divided government

“The worst ideas on the progressives’ policy and personnel wish lists — including government competing head-to-head with the private sector — will be shelved,” said Peter Freeman, a principal at FS Vector and a former House Republican aide. Cliff Roberti, co-founder of Federal Hall Policy Advisors and a onetime House Republican staffer, said a Biden


“The worst ideas on the progressives’ policy and personnel wish lists — including government competing head-to-head with the private sector — will be shelved,” said Peter Freeman, a principal at FS Vector and a former House Republican aide.

Cliff Roberti, co-founder of Federal Hall Policy Advisors and a onetime House Republican staffer, said a Biden White House and Republican-controlled Senate would be a “net positive for the financial services industry — especially given pre-election expectations.”

Those expectations of a Democratic victory were stoked by polls and financial contributions that indicated the party had a big edge heading into Election Day. But many of the candidates underperformed in battleground states and control of the Senate may remain in flux until early January, when both of Georgia’s Senate races are apparently headed for runoff elections.

No matter who wins a majority in the upper chamber, banks and other financial firms still face headaches over Biden’s ability to appoint new leaders to federal agencies. But even here he may opt to name more moderates to those posts to avoid confrontations if the GOP takes the Senate, lobbyists said.

“Bankers will be in better stead with more stability on the congressional side” if Republicans maintain Senate control, said Paul Merski, vice president of the Independent Community Bankers of America. “You won’t have dramatic shifts in banking policy. The real change may be how you address the regulatory agencies — and the Senate could have an influence on that as well.”

Progressive groups are so alarmed that they’re urging Biden to use every option to sidestep potential GOP obstruction of his nominees. One tool is the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which allows a president to elevate existing government employees and Senate-confirmed officials to lead agencies.

“From those strategic perches, Biden can reverse much of Trump’s unpopular deregulatory rampage,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project.

But most significant legislation would probably not get very far.

“All those bills the House has passed over the years waiting for a Democratic Senate may or may not come to fruition,” Consumer Bankers Association President and CEO Richard Hunt said.

Since winning control of the House in 2018, Democrats have passed new safeguards for consumer credit reporting and proposed a nationwide cap on interest rates for loans. Those would likely be impossible to enact as law with a Republican Senate, as would Democratic proposals to expand banking services offered by the Postal Service and to create a public credit reporting agency.

The biggest unknown would be the extent to which Senate Republicans would go along with economic relief that Biden and the Democrats — as well as Wall Street executives and investors — say is desperately needed on a…



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