SEC and Dodd-Frank face delays

Tightening the budget

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Before the holidays, Congress voted to keep spending levels where they are right now, to keep the government's lights on until March 4th. Which brings us to those new financial reforms that two key agencies are supposed to start carrying out. They aren't getting the money to do that from the Congress that passed that law in the first place.

Marketplace's David Gura reports.


David Gura: Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked Congress to increase its billion dollar budget to beef up oversight of the financial system.

Rick Firestone: Congress has, unfortunately, left the SEC in a little bit of a bind.

Attorney Rick Firestone spent 12 years at the SEC. He says the top securities regulator needed the money so it could write new rules and hire new staff under the Dodd-Frank Act.

Firestone: At a minimum, it certainly seems as if there's going to be some delay in how this is implemented.

Earlier this month, the SEC said it can't afford to start offices that would oversee municipal securities and corporate whistleblowers.

James Cox teaches at Duke. He says he can't fathom waiting any longer for an SEC office of credit ratings.

James Cox: To think that we're not going to be staffing that at the level we oughta be staffing, seems to me to be cutting off our nose, to spite our face.

After all, he says, the credit rating agencies contributed to the financial meltdown. Passing Dodd-Frank was a bear. Implementing it will be even harder.

Fred Rivera is a lawyer with Perkins Coie.

Fred Rivera: I think it's probably the first announcement of delays related to Dodd-Frank that we're going to see over the coming months.

He and James Cox say that you can't underestimate the power of the purse. Next year, Congress could continue to starve the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which also asked the government for more money.

SEC spokesman John Nester says the whole agency is strained. They can't pay expert witnesses, attorneys can't travel to depositions and they're relying on outdated technology.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a senior reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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