Donald Trump Has Begun a Frontal Assault on Financial Reform

By:  David Dayen

Donald Trump signing an executive order has now become a cultural trademark, with its own Twitter feeds and play-by-play. What the orders don’t share is any consistency. Some, like the immigration ban, lead to immediate (and tragic) impacts. Others commit the government to generally look around for regulations to trim, or to try to come up with something around Obamacare.

The latter executive orders are signals, statements of intent that do little on their own but suggest the thrust of administration policy. That’s the proper context for Trump’s signing an executive order Friday on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. Dodd-Frank won’t be repealed by executive fiat. But unlike some other policies, if the administration sees fit, Dodd-Frank can easily be effectively repealed by neglect.

We haven’t seen the text yet, but Bloomberg suggests Trump will “order a sweeping review” of Dodd-Frank, with an emphasis on “removing regulatory burdens” caused by the changes to banking rules.

In practice, this means that Trump will ask his Treasury Secretary and the national banking regulators—an alphabet soup of nearly a dozen agencies—to identify what rules can be changed in Dodd-Frank to relieve those alleged burdens. Since the majority of the rules have already been implemented, it would take a protracted process under the Administrative Procedures Act to nullify or peel back rules, involving years of proposals and public-comment periods and final decrees.

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