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FSC Majority | Week in Review
Posted by Staff on May 01, 2015
Subcommittee Examines Impact of International Standards on U.S. Insurance Competitiveness

The Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday to review the impact that international regulatory standards could have on the competitiveness of insurers in America.

Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) said in his opening statement, "The United States finds itself with the opportunity to lead, and not be led. We must seize the opportunity. It's vital that the gentlemen appearing today work in concert and in the interest of the United States to ensure that no ground is ceded to foreign regulators and that the necessary time is taken to produce common-sense rules."

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) spoke about the unintended consequences caused by ineffective and misguided regulations on small businesses and the economy.

"What Dodd-Frank did specifically with insurance companies in putting them under the SIFI rule and other things is you cast a net so broad that you caught all the little fishes that you were not intending to catch. So as a result, we've got what we've got. And there's going to be all types of unintended consequences as there is with anything as complex as Dodd-Frank and all the many rules that it put on different businesses. Then we wonder why we only had a growth of .02 percent in our economy. It's a direct result of the overregulation that we have today," said Rep. Westmoreland.

For nearly 150 years, U.S. insurance companies have been regulated primarily by the states. The Dodd-Frank Act passed in 2010 enlarged the federal government’s role in the insurance industry.

Today, international regulatory efforts threaten the U.S. model of insurance supervision that keeps our insurance market financially strong and competitive. There is a shared goal to better coordinate international insurance supervision, however, but not if it means deferring to international authorities that seem intent on moving toward a consolidated, bank-like model.

Subcommittee Focuses on Legislation to Help the Economy Grow


The Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), held a hearing on Wednesday to focus on solutions that will help build a healthier economy by reducing regulatory burdens on Main Street businesses.

The Committee reviewed a dozen legislative proposals that will help small businesses -- the primary innovators and job creators of our economy -- gain access to capital so they can hire more workers, rather than having to spend their time and money toward complying with overly burdensome regulations.

“Although these bills are modest, they are not insignificant to our fellow citizens back home or to the entrepreneur or the small company that our fellow citizens depend on for a job,” said Chairman Garrett. “So, in all this, it is important to remember that capital formation and investor protection is not an either/or proposition. When investors have additional investment options to earn a return, and invest their money, that additional choice is significant protection.”

The bills would build upon the success of the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012. While those provisions of the JOBS Act that have been implemented are helping small businesses access capital at lower costs and have made it easier for companies to go public, more needs to be done.

A list of bills the Subcommittee discussed at the hearing can be found here.

Export-Import Bank’s Mandates Receive Scrutiny at Joint Subcommittee Hearing

The Financial Services Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee and the Oversight and Government Reform Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules Subcommittee held the second in a series of joint hearings on Thursday to review the Export-Import Bank. This week’s hearing gave members a chance to question Ex-Im Chairman Fred Hochberg about the Bank’s mandates.

“The Export-Import Bank’s stated goal is to support American jobs through exports. However in my opinion, judging by the Bank’s prior financing deals, it appears to be doing quite the opposite, oftentimes," said Subcommittee Chairman Bill Huizenga (R-MI). "American taxpayers have been unwittingly propping up foreign state-owned companies in Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, Venezuela, Pakistan, India, Colombia, Mexico, Ethiopia, South Africa and others who have done nothing but, frankly, work against the best interests of American citizens.”

Ex-Im’s mandates are politically-driven with no economic rationale, subcommittee members said at the hearing. This not only increases the likelihood of default and puts taxpayers at greater risk, it also invites waste, fraud and abuse.

Just last week, a former Ex-Im employee admitted he accepted bribes in return for recommending the approval of unqualified loan applications. At an earlier joint subcommittee hearing, members learned from Ex-Im’s acting inspector general that there are at least 31 active fraud investigations involving Ex-Im and the possibility of further indictments.

Committee Conducts Oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

At Friday’s hearing of the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee, members examined the activities and policies of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), an independent, not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to act as a self-regulatory organization (SRO) over the U.S. securities industry.

The Subcommittee examined concerns that FINRA is transforming itself from a traditional SRO into a quasi-governmental regulator with expansive authorities similar to those of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the need for FINRA to improve operations so it can better serve broker-dealers and their customers.

"Its recent actions are closer to that of the ever-expanding federal bureaucracies that we have become accustomed to in Washington that seek to burrow further into the lives of each and every citizen," said Subcommittee Chairman Garrett.

Additionally, the Subcommittee compared FINRA’s regulation of broker-dealers against rules recently proposed by the Department of Labor that expand the definition of “fiduciary” to include broker-dealers providing investment advice on 401(k) and IRA retirement accounts. Although the Obama Administration has called for broker-dealers to be subject to a fiduciary standard of care, FINRA already subjects broker-dealers to comprehensive oversight and actively protects investors.

Subcommittee Vice Chairman Robert Hurt (R-VA) said, "Investors in Virginia’s Fifth District, my district, and across the country rely on FINRA to regulate broker-dealers in a responsible way. I believe that FINRA has a responsibility to operate in a fair, consistent, and transparent manner given the authority it exercises. FINRA must be mindful of the potential economic impacts its rules may have, particularly at a time when economic growth remains vitally important."

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Rep. Mia Love | Mia Love: My first 100 days in Congress

I am serving on the Financial Services committee, which is actively working to examine banking laws and unnecessary regulations. We are currently looking at a multitude of ways to dismantle Dodd-Frank and remove the unfair burden it imposes on financial institutions, particularly the many Industrial Banks based in Utah.

Weekend Must Reads

Wall Street Journal | The Peculiar Uses of a Taxpayer Bank

The Export-Import Bank is anything but a “critical element” of America’s national security. Congress should refuse to reauthorize the bank when its charter expires. Washington shouldn’t be spending taxpayer money on corporate welfare—especially when it goes to companies and countries that are either corrupt or are actively working to undermine America.

Investor's Business Daily | Dodd-Frank Takes Banking Back To Horse-And-Buggy Days

Dodd-Frank's compliance burden is heavier on small banks than larger ones, which are better financed and staffed to handle the costs and complexities. Given this difficult environment, why would anyone open a small bank — which is to say, why would anyone open a bank at all, since no one starts out opening a large bank?

American Banker | Warren's Wall Street Reforms Would Just Make Banks Riskier
 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has received a lot of attention for her new plan to complete the work of the Dodd-Frank Act. This plan would sow the financial services ground with salt as Rome did to Carthage, ensuring that nothing will grow in the future.

CNBC | Hey, Fed —What was that?!

The Federal Reserve has muddied – significantly – the outlook for monetary policy.


Wall Street Journal | The Messes Obama Will Leave Behind

​Mr. Obama will also leave behind a difficult economic climate in which to start a business. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, every year of his presidency more American businesses have died—closed, merged or gone bankrupt—than have been created.


    In the News

Central Maine | Poliquin introduces child support bill, his first in Congress

The Hill | The CFPB, not what it was hoped to be

Newsmax | Rep. Garrett Offers Proposals to Enhance Capital Formation

Augusta Free Press | Robert Hurt: The CFPB needs increased transparency, accountability

Wall Street Journal | The Slow-Growth Fed

Bloomberg | Duffy Insurance Bill Latest in Growing Scrutiny of International Insurance Talks

National Journal | The Recession Isn't Over For Many Families

Investor’s Business Daily | CFPB Launches 10 Joint Lending Bias Probes With Justice Dept.

Star-Tribune | Hurt introduces bill to reduce regulatory burden on small companies

Investor's Business Daily | Obama's Economy Stumbles Again With A 0.2% Quarter

Detroit News | Huizenga: Many reasons to be wary of the Ex-Im Bank

Wall Street Journal | House Lawmaker Presses SEC Chief on Bond-Market Liquidity

RepublicanAmerican | Low-down-payment mortgages are back

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