Some pundits are bemused at Mitt Romney remark about financial regulation at last night's debate.
Regulation is essential. You can't have a free market work if you don't have regulation. As a businessperson, I had to have -- I need to know the regulations. I needed them there. You couldn't have people opening up banks in their -- in their garage and making loans. I mean, you have to have regulations so that you can have an economy work. Every free economy has good regulation. At the same time, regulation can become excessive.
But this is almost exactly what he said at the Republican debate in January.
Markets have to have regulation to work. You can`t have everybody open a bank in their garage. You have to have regulation, but it`s got to be up to date. And they didn`t have capital requirements put in place for the different classes of assets banks had. They also didn`t have regulation properly put in place for mortgage lenders. Derivatives weren`t being regulated. You need to have regulation that`s up to date. They had old regulation, burdensome. Then they passed Dodd-Frank, which the Speaker is absolutely right. It has made it almost impossible for community banks.
This is smart positioning: I'm not against all financial regulations, I'm against Obama's regulations. And Obama's response wasn't effective at all, because his punchline "Does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street?" doesn't directly answer Romney's position.
The only proper rebuttal here was to say that Romney just isn't credible when he touts the importance of regulation -- because he spends most of his time and energy saying how he's going to get rid of them.
"Small businesses are the engine of job creation in this country, but they will struggle to succeed if taxes and regulations are too burdensome or if a government in Washington does its best to stifle them. Mitt will pursue comprehensive tax reform that lowers tax rates for all Americans, and he will cut back on the red tape that drives up costs and discourages hiring."
"As president, Mitt Romney will cut federal spending and regulation, and bring much-needed reforms to Medicare and Social Security."
Indeed, he has an entire section of his campaign website that's dedicated to repealing regulations.
"Multiple factors contribute to America’s faltering performance. But a major part of the problem over successive presidencies, and one that the Obama administration has sharply exacerbated, is the regulatory burden on the economy. Regulations function as a hidden tax on Americans, with the federal government’s own Small Business Administration placing the price tag at $1.75 trillion annually—much higher than the entire burden of individual and corporate income taxes combined."
Unforced error by Team Obama.