Act of Congress: How America's Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn't

Act of Congress: How America's Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn't

Robert G. Kaiser

Language: English

Pages: 464

ISBN: 0307744515

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A Washington Post Notable Book

An eye-opening account of how Congress today really works—and how it doesn’t—that follows the dramatic journey of the sweeping financial reform bill enacted in response to the Great Crash of 2008. Act of Congress focuses on two of the major players behind the legislation: colorful, wisecracking congressman Barney Frank, and careful, insightful senator Christopher Dodd, both of whom met regularly with Robert G. Kaiser during the eighteen months they worked on the bill. In this compelling narrative, staffers play a critical role, writing the legislation and often making the crucial deals. Kaiser’s rare insider access enabled him to illuminate the often-hidden intricacies of legislative enterprise and shows us the workings of Congress in all of its complexity, a clearer picture than any we have had of how Congress works best—or sometimes doesn’t work at all.

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strategize and see paths better than most. He also combines a big talent for operating inside with communications skills that make him effective outside, an unusual combination.” While serving in the legislature, Frank decided he ought to get a law degree. He persuaded Harvard Law School to admit him despite its rule that a student could not hold a regular job while studying law. He did so well that he was invited to join the Law Review with the best students at the end of his first year; he

personality and appearance of as policy expert, 2.1, 24.1, 24.2, 24.3 preemption issue and and prostitution scandal regulatory reform as viewed by, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 6.1, 24.1 regulatory reform working groups organized by resolution authority supported by on role of staff Senate as viewed by single bank regulator rejected by, 7.1, 15.1, 15.2 subprime mortgage legislation and, 10.1, 14.1 “Systemic Risk and Financial Markets” hearing of TARP and, 1.1, 2.1 on Volcker rule Frank,

meant to guarantee—would be at risk because consumer agency inspectors could insist that banks stop offering profitable financial products, or could force them to make loans to risky borrowers in the name of equal access to credit. Yingling told The Washington Post, “The inclusion of the highly controversial Consumer Financial Protection Agency will undermine chances of enactment of needed reform.” This was a clever formulation, but more hope than prediction. As Yingling admitted in July, there

uniforms for the Little League. Moreover, in 2009 the dealers were a wounded tribe. Both Chrysler and General Motors, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy before the government bailed them out, had moved to close hundreds of dealerships around the country, provoking yelps of pain from those who were affected. Frank discovered that black-owned dealerships were particularly persuasive with his Black Caucus members. Once the dealers made a stink about being subjected to the CFPA, many members were

administration wanted to make them more complicated. The American Bankers Association came out strongly against the idea. Frank liked the original administration proposal. He thought federal bank regulators had taken preemption too far, denying the most progressive state governments the opportunity to give their residents meaningful protections against financial chicanery. “I would like as little preemption as I can get by with politically, but I don’t know how much that is,” Frank said in an

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