Turning Point Debates

Last week was the first of the 2012 presidential debates. Most pundits credited Republican candidate Mitt Romney with the victory. Since the Romney campaign had been struggling for the past several weeks, Romney’s debate victory came at an opportune time for him, re-energizing his campaign.

A topic that came to the forefront was the Dodd-Frank Act (DFA). President Barack Obama spoke in support of the act, contending that it could prevent another financial crisis, similar to the one we have been besieged with the past few years. Challenger Romney countered that, though the act offers some valid provisions, much of it creates unnecessary compliance work. While most bankers would agree with Romney, he has yet to identify what he considers the act’s good parts and bad parts. I doubt that the banking community as a whole would agree on what defines the good vs. the bad. I do believe that a point of unity for all bankers is that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not needed. At a time when our annual government deficit grows by trillions of dollars, how could anyone justify creating an agency that costs taxpayers $600 billion per year? Especially since the country got along for 235 years without such a government agency.

Beyond that, big banks and small banks likely would not agree on the details of the DFA. Urban banks and rural banks probably would not agree. I for one know that I disagree with President Obama on the issue. I do not yet know enough about Romney’s position to evaluate it, but I am encouraged that he advocates for repealing at least some of the act.

Tomorrow the vice presidential candidates will debate, with Democrat Joe Biden squaring off against Republican Paul Ryan. I suspect that fewer people will care about this debate, although history is replete with stories about vice presidential debates. Unfortunately those stories focus on poor performances — think Dan Quayle and Admiral James Stockdale, for two.

Then it will be two more presidential debates, scheduled for Oct. 16 and 22. Since neither candidate has excited many voters beyond their hard core bases, these upcoming debates could well be the turning point that determines who occupies the Oval Office for the next four years.

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