President Trump signed two directives Friday rolling back key financial regulations of the Obama era, including restrictions on Wall Street banks and on financial advisers who sell clients expensive financial products with higher commissions, a White House adviser said.
The two executive actions don’t take effect immediately, but rather ask federal agencies to review options to cancel existing or proposed regulations.
Trump and aides said Dodd-Frank rulings aren’t working and are making legitimate investing activity more difficult than it should be.
“Today, we are signing core principles for regulating the United States financial system,” Trump said.
Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., who joined Trump for an Oval Office signing ceremony, said, “we are returning to the American people, low- and middle-income investors, and retirees, their control of their own retirement savings. This is about Main Street.”
Democrats said Trump’s efforts will re-create the conditions that led to the 2008 financial meltdown.
“During the campaign President Trump said he would be tough on Wall Street,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. “Then he filled his administration with billionaires and bankers and now he’s trying to roll back the rules put in place to prevent another economic crash like the one that occurred in 2008.”
Most Dodd-Frank changes would need to be made via legislation, and Democrats vowed to fight Trump’s plans.
“The president’s attempts to repeal Wall Street reform will be met with a Democratic firewall in Congress,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
Trump signed the executive orders in a ceremony Friday afternoon. Previous executive orders have been far more sweeping than originally advertised. The two executive actions are:
► An executive order targeting the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — and especially the so-called Volcker rule prohibiting banks from making speculative investments. The order would direct the secretary of the Treasury to review regulations on financial institutions and report back specific recommendations to the president.
Among the actions being considered are “personnel actions,” the White House official said. While he did not identify those actions, the most vulnerable financial regulator is Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A federal appeals court ruled last year that the bureau’s structure was unconstitutional he exercises “massive, unchecked power” independent of the president. As a remedy, the court said, the president ought to be able to fire.
It could also include a dismantling of “orderly liquidation” authority for too-big-to-fail banks. Last week, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel released a 2010 legal opinion raising constitutional questions about the authority of bankruptcy courts to seize those banks, suggesting that the Trump administration was prepared to rely on the previously undisclosed legal advice.
► A presidential memorandum to the secretary of Labor ordering a delay in implementing a rule requiring financial advisers to act in their clients’ best interests. The regulation, known as the fiduciary rule, is scheduled to go into effect April 10. Opponents argue that it would discourage financial advisers from working with low-net worth clients.
The secretary of Labor could delay implementation of the rule, but repealing it would require starting the rulemaking process over from the beginning. That’s because the rule was already finalized last year, with a one-year grace period for compliance. President Barack Obama already vetoed an attempt by congressional Republicans to kill the rule outright.