For his new book, journalist Robert Kaiser intensely researched the political maneuvering surrounding the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. His conclusion? Most members of Congress don’t understand what they’re arguing about.
Speaking on PBS, Kaiser said Wall Street reform only occurred in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse thanks to the unique talents of former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).
Unlike the rest of Congress, Frank and Dodds had an actual grasp on the financial situation and understood the need to act. Frank provided the brainpower, while Dodds’ political skill was necessary for financial reform to pass.
“But it was upsetting to me as a citizen to realize how few members understood the issues they were dealing with,” Kaiser remarked. “These are, of course, extremely complicated financial matters, how banks work, how they’re regulated, so on.”
“Not everybody can know this, but at the end, I concluded that you could fit the number of experts in Congress on financial issues easily onto the roster of a Major League Baseball team,” he added. “That’s 25 people. I think that is the max.”
Kaiser also said the lack of expertise was resulting in a deadlocked Congress. Rather than trying to craft meaningful legislation to aid the country, most lawmakers were more interested in scoring partisan political points.
“You don’t really engage on issues in this Congress,” he explained. “What you engage in is political warfare, partisan bashing, one or the other. And the result is that serious policy issues, as we have seen again and again, get very short shrift.”
Watch video, courtesy of PBS, below: