In a surprisingly watchable presidential debate, a feisty Mitt Romney slammed at the regulations passed by President Barack Obama, especially the Dodd-Frank Act. Romney vowed that while regulation was necessary, the new rules had become excessive and were stifling any meaningful economic recovery. As Reuters reports on Wednesday's debate:
"Regulation is essential. You can't have a free market work without regulation," said Romney, a former Massachusetts governor.
"At the same time, regulation can become excessive, it can become out of date. And what's happened with some of the legislation that's been passed under President Obama's term is you've seen some of the regulation become excessive and it has hurt the economy."
"We are not going to get rid of all regulation," he said. "You have to have regulation and there are some parts of Dodd-Frank that make all the sense in the world. You have to have transparency, leverage limits."
Attacks on Dodd-Frank had been a popular applause line during the seemingly endless GOP debates late last year and earlier this year and the GOP candidate has pledged to stop the laws that take aim at 'too big to fail' institutions. Even though Romney is the wealthiest person to run for the White House in the modern age, and he is often seen by the public as being more concerned about the 1 Percent rather than the middle class, he has pledged to repeal the sweeping 2010 law.
President Obama, who has been criticized for his muted, almost diffident, performance last night, defended regulatory reform. As Reuters reports:
"The reason we have been in such an enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board," Obama said.
"The question is does anybody out there think that the big problem we had is that there was too much oversight and regulation of Wall Street? Because if you do, then Governor Romney is your candidate. But that's not what I believe."
Romney does have a point that the bailouts did not prevent the so-called 'too big to fail' institutions from growing. In fact, the very firms became even larger after the pell-mell mergers that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. But Romney is hoping that voters believe that this happened under President Obama's watch and not his predecessor, George W. Bush, a Republican.
It wasn't the former Massachusetts governor's only dalliance with the truth last night but this fib might be the most effective come Election Day.