There are many reasons to disagree with the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (a.k.a the Dodd bill) that is making its way through the Senate. As it stands now, a provision in the bill calls for the creation of the Office of Financial Research (OFR). A brand new agency, that will not answer to Congress, the President or the Treasury authorized to collect financial data on an undefined and unlimited range of financial transactions.
The OFR reports to the new Financial Stability Oversight Council, a nine-member board that would be responsible for monitoring the entire “financial services marketplace” for threats to financial stability.
According to the bill,
The Council may request the submission of any data or information from the Office of Financial Research and member agencies, as necessary— (A) to monitor the financial services marketplace to identify potential risks to the financial stability of the United States
The bill creates the OFR to provide the Council with all data the Council thinks it needs to monitor the entire financial services industry. The bill says:
The Office [OFR] may, on behalf of the Council, require the submission of periodic and other reports from any financial company for the purpose of assessing the extent to which a financial activity or financial market in which the financial company participates, or the financial company itself, poses a threat to the financial stability of the United States.
Oh and to give the OFR's requests some teeth, it will have subpoena power.
Putting it together, the OFR is a new agency, not answering to Congress, the President or the Treasury, with subpoena power to collect financial data on an undefined and unlimited range of financial transactions.There is no provision in the bill limiting who the data is shared with either. Could the OFR sell its database as marketing lists, or share with the IRS?
Karl Rove warns against the OFR “They are going to have the capacity to go through everybody's brokerage account and checking account and everybody's credit card and financial transactions and sweep that information and then analyze it.” Senator Shelby says the more the American people learn about the “intrusive” provisions, the more they will mobilize against it. “I think the American people are now thinking, ‘We just don’t have that level of trust in the government,’” James Gattuso of the Heritage Foundation says, adding, “We don’t want to give you that power to do something even though you promised that you won’t do it.”
At its most benign the OFR is just another government intrusion into our privacy.However its unlimited jurisdiction, lack of direct responsibility to an elected branch of government, and power of subpoena the possibilities are much more nefarious than simply an intrusion. The amazing part of this threat to our liberty is we hear little or no complaints regarding this part of the bill. Are we so used to the federal government sneaking into our private lives, that a new and possibly serious intrusion that a new and potential serious violation invokes little if any outrage?
In the past 16 months the federal government has accelerated the growth of big government to the point where it is bursting past the safeguards our founders put into the constitution and intruding uninvited into our personal liberties. Wake up America, this is another affront to those liberties and must be prevented from becoming law. It seems as if every time the Federal Government forces its way into our "personal space" it becomes easier than the last time.
If you would like to read more from Jeff Dunetz, visit his Blog, The Lid