WASHINGTON Christopher Dodd made clear Tuesday that he still thinks about ways to improve the regulatory overhaul bearing his name.
The former Connecticut senator warned of risks to reopening the Dodd-Frank Act the landmark financial services bill passed nearly four years ago to changes. But he said that in an ideal world, the overhaul would have gone further and merged all of the prudential bank regulators into one agency.
Dodd had pushed for the single regulator idea in legislative debates prior to enacting the final bill, but gave up on the plan due to political realities.
Yet in remarks for a Bipartisan Policy Center event marking Dodd-Frank's anniversary, he indicated that consolidating the regulators still has merit.
"It might come back again at some point, now that people have thought a little longer about it," said Dodd, now head of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Still, Dodd, who was chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, cautioned that it may be too soon to make revisions to the law. He reiterated ongoing concerns that opening up Dodd-Frank to any corrections could allow opponents of the reforms to force more sweeping changes.
His successor on the banking panel, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., has largely operated from the same playbook, resisting efforts to reopen key provisions of the law. But Johnson is slated to retire at the end of the year, raising fresh questions about whether the next chairman either Democrat or Republican will be more open to changes.
"We must be extremely cautious when it comes to prematurely opening up this law to make changes at this moment in time," Dodd said during a keynote address. "By no means is this law biblical or [written] in stone. But the current charged political environment makes me nervous about what could happen."
But Dodd noted that if he had been "king for a day," he would have made several additional fixes to the bill, including establishing a single prudential regulator and ensuring funding for all of the financial regulatory agencies outside of the budget process.
Dodd also lamented the fact that Congress could not address the housing finance system in the reform package.
"We spent countless hours talking about what we might do in that space," he said. "Certain things you just couldn't deal with in that time frame."
He said that he has continued to monitor the debate over housing finance reform, though he "couldn't predict with any certainty" whether renewed efforts in the Senate this year to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will pan out.
The BPC, meanwhile, released a list of twenty action items for regulators and Congress to help address ongoing concerns with the law. The group recommends that lawmakers raise the threshold for systemically important institutions from $50 billion to $250 billion, among other issues, and asks regulators to increase transparency at the Financial Stability Oversight Council.