What a GOP win could mean for the financial overhaul

By Brady Dennis

Republicans made little secret of how much they loathed the far-reaching financial overhaul bill that squeaked through Congress this past summer. The landmark Dodd-Frank legislation – named for Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) – gives the government broad new authority to seize and wind down large, troubled financial firms. It creates an independent consumer bureau to protect borrowers against abuses in mortgage, credit-card and other loans. It includes a version of the “Volcker Rule,” aimed at limiting proprietary trading by banks. It sets up a council of federal regulators to monitor threats to the financial system, mandates oversight of the vast financial derivatives market and gives shareholders more say on how corporate executives are paid, among other things. Many Republicans view the law as a monumental government overreach and would like nothing more than to curtail major portions of it, if not repeal them altogether, should they win big in Tuesday’s midterm elections. But the chances of that actually happening, even if the GOP gains control of both houses of Congress: slim. “I don’t think it’s all that likely,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of the research firm Federal Financial Analytics, adding that prospects for such legislation “are at best iffy.” “If you repeal it, you have to replace it,” Petrou said, “because, with very few exceptions, doing nothing is not appropriate in the wake of the financial crisis.”