WASHINGTON — Rep. Barney Frank, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, issued an analysis defending financial reform law provisions designed to address "too big to fail" institutions.
The paper, released late Monday, is a "response to assertions that the Wall Street reform law perpetuates 'too big to fail' and taxpayer bailouts of large financial institutions," according to a press release from the Massachusetts Democrat's office.
The analysis follows repeated attacks by top Republican lawmakers and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who argue that the law doesn't address how to handle the biggest institutions, particularly when a bank is failing. It was written by the committee's minority staff at Frank's request.
The Dodd-Frank law "addresses the TBTF problem at its roots by protecting the financial system without protecting the existence of any individual financial firm," the paper says.
"It accomplishes this result through two basic means - first, by providing a set of tools to ensure that large, complex financial firms and the financial system in which they operate are more stable and transparent, and that regulators can supervise the financial system and its constituent parts more effectively; and second, by ensuring that a failing financial firm can fail in a fashion that minimizes risks to the financial system without any ultimate cost to taxpayers," it adds.
The analysis critiques some of the attacks on the "too big to fail" provisions, including concerns that the law gives regulators too much leeway and that taxpayers will still bear the burden of an orderly liquidation of a failing firm.
It also argues that an alternative "modified bankruptcy" plan floated by Republicans when the law was being developed would have done more harm than good.
"The bankruptcy modifications that the Republicans proposed for financial institutions would have exacerbated, not mitigated, the problems inherent in existing bankruptcy laws with respect to those critical elements, and, had they been in effect in 2008, likely would have made the Lehman bankruptcy more disruptive, not less so," the paper says.