It´s open season on regulatory restructuring: Bank regulators are gathering in the House Financial Services Committee this morning to share their views on the Obama administration´s plan to overhaul the financial system. BankThink is brining you live blogging coverage of the hearing, which will consist of two panels of witnesses. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will take the stage first, alone. He´ll be followed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair; Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, OTS Director John Bowman, and Joseph Smith, Jr., the North Carolina state banking commissioner, testifying together. Stay tuned.
10:36am: Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., has begun his opening statement. As he called the hearing into session, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., said hearings on consumer protection would take place in September.
Kanjorski, with first colorful image of the day: "By sprinkling their magic dust on toxic assets, ratings agencies turned horse manure into fools' gold."
10:39am: Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Tx., has come out swinging in his opening statement, saying that the right regulatory restructuring plan can't come out of the wrong explanation for the cause of the financial crisis. It wasn't deregulation, he says, but "dumb regulation." He's also accusing the Obama adminsitration of "sweeping Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac] under the rug." As for consumer protection, he calls the proposed new regulator one of the greatest assaults on consumer rights I have witnessed."
Hensarling: I prefer Rep. Spencer Bachus's plan, which adds to the bankruptcy code to allow for the resolution of large, systemically important institutions.
10:42am: Frank calls the charge "that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are being ignored" a "startling misconception." They were being ignored before the crisis, he says, and dives into his well-worn recitation of the history of failed government sponsored enterprise reform.
10:44am: Republicans are on a new, strong message this morning, pushing their alternative to the administration's reg restructuring proposals. They've got their own proposals for consumer protection: a department that focuses on disclosures and fraud penalties.
10:46am: Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C.: A compromise is when nobody is happy. "I haven't heard anybody who is completely satisfied with what has been proposed. That probably suggests that we have hit the right balance if we do what the administration has proposed."
Watt says the industry "grossly overstated" the potential problems with a consumer protection agency, and he urges everyone to "come to the table" and try to work out the problems they have with the proposal.
10:49am: Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., has gone back to disputing the history of the housing bubble. Frank cuts him off quickly.
10:51am: Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., is calling for a change in the way accounting standards are set.
10:52am: Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., points out that the industry isn't the only contingent objecting the the consumer protection regulator.
10:53am: Geithner has begun his opening statement. Apparently the Committee plans to recess for a vote after Geithner finishes.
Geithner: "The President decided we needed to move quickly" on regulatory restructuring before the memory of the financial crisis begins to fade.
He has zeroed in on the conusmer protection regulator issue. The old system failed, he says, because "all of the federal financial services regulators have higher priorities than consumer protection."
10:56am: Geithner is saying the "only viable solution" for consumer protection is to house oversight and regulation in "a single entity."
If consumer protection responsibilities are divided, regulatory arbitrage could continue, Geithner says.
10:59am: Geithner: "Resolution authority is essential."
11:01am: Geithner is on to the Federal Reserve now; he's insisting that the proposal both giveth and taketh away Fed power.
11:03am: Committee hastily recesses. Stay tuned.