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Washington: Beware of deregulating the financial industry

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told aerospace company workers that corporate tax cuts are needed to restore America’s global competitiveness. (Bob Christie/AP)

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told aerospace company workers that corporate tax cuts are needed to restore America’s global competitiveness. (Bob Christie/AP)

You may have noticed how the governor, the Arizona attorney general, and Arizona’s lawmakers keep pushing for exemptions for the financial industry from a range of regulations, both state and federal, while, at the same time, imposing needless restrictions on local governments throughout Arizona.

For some examples, Gov. Doug Ducey recently approved H.B 2434 to encourage fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrency startups to get underway in a big way in Arizona without the hassle of government regulations.

Under the new program, which the governor described as a “regulatory sandbox” for these financial industries, they will be able to test their products for up to two years and serve as many as 10,000 customers before needing to apply for any license.

According to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, whose agency will oversee this sandbox, “We are trailblazing in entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Meanwhile, when the residents of Bisbee voted to ban plastic shopping bags in their community, and Tempe appeared ready to do the same — so to keep plastic pollution out of local landfills — Ducey signed the legislature’s bill that prohibits all municipalities in the state from enacting such a ban, even if local residents want it. Cities who contemplated opposing the state prohibition were threatened with state funding being withheld.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake in March voted to remove restrictions on big banks — those with assets are between $50 billion and $250 billion. In voting for U.S. Senate Bill 2155, Flake expressed his distaste for the rules that were put in place in 2010, at the height of the Great Recession, to prevent the kind of banking meltdowns that caused the Recession.

It’s hard to forget the Great Recession, still. The Federal Reserve estimated that, overall, altogether, the Great Recession wiped out between $7.5 trillion and $19 trillion in wealth.

While it’s a challenge for most of us to comprehend such vast sums, we can understand the meaning of those numbers when they are translated into the fact that millions of Americans lost their homes, jobs and/or savings because of the Great Recession.

But it’s not all bad news. In today’s Daily Courier, on Page 5C, you can read about how nationwide, foreclosure rates have fallen lately to the level they were in June of 2007, prior to the Recession — 0.6 percent.

But this kind of good news is likely to vanish if Congress approves the legislation that Flake favors, which would relax banking regulations by reforming the Dodd-Frank Act. House Speaker Paul Ryan announced this week that he expects Congress to vote this month on that bill — the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.

Do not delay to call and write our representatives in the U.S. House to urge them to oppose that bad bill.

Meanwhile, to understand the wildly misplaced priorities of Arizona’s political leaders, look no further than their political contributions or, at least, those contributions that are publicly revealed.

For example, Flake has received more than $68,000 from commercial banks in just the most recent election cycle, 2017-18, when he has already announced that he is not going to run for office again.


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