Scott Brown blasts financial bill
Disappointed in $19B bank tax
By Jay Fitzgerald
Saturday, June 26, 2010 – Updated 2d 1h agoU.S. Sen. Scott Brown lashed out at a sweeping financial-reform package unveiled yesterday, saying it includes a new $19 billion bank tax that wasn’t in a Senate reform bill he supported last month.
“I’ve said repeatedly that I cannot support any bill that raises taxes,” Brown said in a statement, hours after Senate and House negotiators announced they had reached compromise agreement on a final 2,000-page bill.
Brown, a freshman Republican who provided crucial support that allowed a reform bill to get out of the Senate last month, stopped short of saying he was hoodwinked by the new compromise bill.
But Brown said he was “surprised and extremely disappointed” by a provision in the package that would slap an “assessment” on large financial firms to help pay for all the reforms in the bill.
“While I’m still reviewing the bill’s details, these provisions were not in the Senate version of the bill which I previously supported,” Brown said. “My fear is that these costs would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher bank, ATM and credit card fees and put a strain on lending at the worst possible time for our economy.”
Some political observers privately speculated that Brown was genuinely sideswiped by the new assessment, while others say he now gets to say he voted both for and against financial reform.
Regardless, it now looks like the most sweeping financial overhaul since the Great Depression will ultimately pass Congress and soon head to President Obama’s desk for signing, perhaps before the July Fourth holiday.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Newton), who was a key House negotiator during conference committee talks, said the bill is needed to crack down on some of the worst practices that led to the subprime-mortgage fiasco and Wall Street meltdown in 2008.
He said large Massachusetts financial firms “won’t be affected negatively” by the bill.
There was some speculation yesterday that the new bank tax – which Democrats are calling an “assessment” – might cover financial institutions such as Fidelity Investments and other mutual-fund firms.
But a source said the bill – details of which were still being worked on late yesterday by House and Senate staffers – specifically exempts mutual-fund firms from the assessment.