WASHINGTON - The Clinton administration on Tuesday endorsed a variety of legislative proposals aimed at easing regulations bankers say have become unnecessarily burdensome.
Testifying before a House banking subcommittee, Under Secretary of the Treasury Frank W. Newman, Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig, and Jonathan L. Fiechter, acting director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, pledged to work closely with Congress to cut unnecessary red tape.
They endorsed a number of provisions in the Economic Growth and Financial Institutions Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1993, a broad regulatory relief bill sponsored by Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., and Rep. Jim Bacchus, D-Fla.
Concerned over Duplication
"We very much would like to see most of the provisions of the bill become law," Mr. Newman said. "Reducing the regulatory burden on the nation's insured depository institutions, as this legislation seeks to do, is an important objective of this administration."
Despite their endorsement of legislative action, the officials said the administration is already working to relieve the burden through administrative action. In many cases, new laws would only duplicate measures the administration is now pursuing, they said.
Mr. Fiechter asked Congress to hold off on revamping the law until the administration's initiatives are fully implemented.
The Bereuter-Bacchus bill, which now has 260 co-sponsors, would change a broad range of banking provisions that the two lawmakers say burdens lenders without contributing to safety and soundness. It calls for amending bank accounting and capital requirements, cutting exam requirements, expediting bank applications, and easing the Community Reinvestment Act.
Despite the widespread congressional support for the bill, one influential banking committee member expressed firm opposition to many of its elements.
|Great Deal of Caution'
"We should approach this bill with a great deal of caution," said Rep. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "It's a little too early to let our guard down."
Regulators agreed that some provisions of the bill go too far. Mr. Newman said some rollbacks in consumer protection and safety and soundness rules - including repeal of operational and managerial standards - "may cut too deeply."
He also told the committee that the administration hopes to announce a proposal on the consolidation of banking agencies by late November.
|Needs to Be Looked At'
"We believe it's an issue that needs to be looked at," he said.
Mr. Ludwig downplayed comments made last week by the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. William McDonough warned of signs of weakening loan underwriting standards at some banks.
"We don't see any kind of a trend right now in terms of lower underwriting standards," Mr. Ludwig said. "But it is certainly something we have to be very careful about."