What would a Gingrich or a Romney presidency look like? One thing is certain: Both men would overturn the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The former Speaker of the House and the former governor of Massachusetts agree that this law is hampering a significant recovery of the country's recession by stopping banks from lending money to home-owners and entrepreneurs.
Below is a transcript of what the candidates said, with some light edits for the sake of clarity.
Brian Williams: Gentlemen, 30 seconds, please, on this, starting with Governor Romney. To help these homeowners or not?
Mitt Romney:To help them? Of course we help them. Pam Mati (phonetic spelling) here in Florida is cracking down on people who are committing fraud, Number One.
Number Two: you have to get government out of the mess. Government has created the mess.
Number Three: you're going to have to help people see if they can't get more flexibility from their banks. Right now, with Dodd- Frank, we made it harder for banks to renegotiate mortgages to help people get out.
And finally, you've got to get the economy going again with people having jobs. With Florida with 9.9 percent unemployment, and with 18 percent real unemployment in this state, and underemployment, you're not going to get housing recovered unless you get jobs created again.
Brian Williams: Mr. Speaker?
Newt Gingrich:Well, I think, first of all, if you could repeal Dodd-Frank tomorrow morning, you would see the economy start to improve overnight. I mean, people don't realize this bill is -- a little bit of what Congressman [Ron] Paul said.
The fact is Dodd-Frank has led the biggest banks to get bigger. It is crushing independent banks. It has an anti-housing bias. Federal regulators are slowing down and making it harder to make loans for housing, and it is crippling small business borrowing.
All those things are a function of a bill passed by the Democrats called Dodd-Frank. If they would repeal it tomorrow morning, you would have a better housing market the next day.
Brian Williams: Do you really think the financial system is overregulated? That's the second mention of Dodd-Frank tonight.
Gingrich: Yes, of course it's overregulated. When you put that much power in the Treasury under [Us Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner, you know, it's an invitation to corruption.
When you have a bias in the bill, which makes the big banks get bigger, exactly the opposite of what a rational policy would be, it's a bad bill. When you have regulators walk in small local banks and say, do not loan money on housing, it's a bad idea.
Brian Williams: Governor Romney, was it overregulated prior to the collapse?
Romney:It was poorly regulated. Markets have to have regulation to work. You can't have everybody open a bank in their garage. You have to have regulation, but it's got to be up to date.
And they didn't have capital requirements put in place for the different classes of assets banks had. They also didn't have regulation properly put in place for mortgage lenders. Derivatives weren't being regulated.
You need to have regulation that's up to date. They had old regulation, burdensome. Then they passed Dodd-Frank, which the Speaker is absolutely right. It has made it almost impossible for community banks.
I was with the head of one of the big banks in New York. He said they have hundreds of lawyers working on Dodd-Frank to implement it.
Community banks don't have hundreds of lawyers. It's just killing the residential home market and it's got to be replaced.
[End of transcript on Dodd Frank]
The New York Times weighs in with a Florida Debate Fact Check:
Dodd-Frank and Small BanksIn condemning the new Dodd-Frank law tightening regulation of the financial sector, Mitt Romney cited the law's negative effect on smaller community banks in particular. But lobbyists won exemptions for community banks from many if not most of the Dodd-Frank limitations on banking. A top lobbyist for the sector publicly described the legislation as beneficial for smaller banks because it leveled the playing field with bigger banks and set a limit on their size. - Jackie Calmes