Rick Perry is ready... to regulate Wall Street

This morning saw the debut of a new host on Face the Nation as John Dickerson took over for the now retired Bob Schieffer. Before getting to the subject at hand, I’ll say that I found John to be fairly agnostic in his political coverage, but also rather tentative, asking questions but not really challenging the guests as they went through their talking points. Thus far I’d give him a B minus.

One of his big interviews was with newly announced POTUS contender, Texas Governor Rick Perry. It wasn’t a bad interview, but Dickerson did manage to hit a number of key Hillary Clinton talking points and get the governor to respond. One in particular caught my attention when the subject of banking regulations came up. Perry’s answer was rather curious and it caught the surprisingly positive attention of Patrick Brennan at National Review.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry was on Face the Nation this morning to make the case for his recently launched presidential campaign, and emphasized not just the work he’s done since his failed 2012 campaign, but also a populist tone and an eagerness to take on big business. He argued that the Dodd-Frank financial-reform rules are constraining the work of community banks, hurting opportunities for small businesses, while big Wall Street banks retain a too-big-to-fail guarantee.

So, asked CBS’s John Dickerson, what’s the answer to oversized, privileged Wall Street banks? “Regulate them,” Perry said. Especially in a way that will ensure they can’t receive future bailouts: “If they make bad decisions, let them live with them,” Perry said.

Regulate them? Perry’s interview seemed a bit hit or miss since he was criticizing Dodd-Frank (as he clearly should) but then turned around and called for some restrictions which sounded eerily like a page out of Elizabeth Warren’s playbook. Rather than just dumping all over the idea, Brennan notes that there have been banking regulations which have worked in the state of Texas and Perry seems to be trying to find a third way on the subject.

As this paper from the Dallas Federal Reserve recounts, there were a couple other factors at play, but Texas’s being the only state with such a regulation probably helped contain speculation and the resultant disruption from the housing crisis. Getting financial regulation right isn’t easy, but Perry seems to know it can be both good politics and good policy.

I’m a bit lost at sea on this one, I’ll confess. I’ve considered it a matter of accepted doctrine that Dodd-Frank has been almost entirely negative in terms of results. By the same token, the 2007 – 2008 collapse clearly pointed a finger in the direction of the biggest banks and the impact they can have on the general welfare if they run too far off the leash.

But at the same time, the entire thought of the federal government peering too deeply into the financial dealings of the facilitators of a massive system of capitalism gives me the creeping willies. It’s one of those issues where you want to minimize the potential for a catostrophic collapse, but at the same time you don’t want the White House instituting a mandated policy of “fairness” when that term generally equates to an equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity. Where does Rick Perry find a middle ground in this?

To be clear, I’m not saying that such a middle ground doesn’t exist. I’m not enough of an expert in the field to define that or I’d be running for president myself. Still, I’d like to hear a lot more details. Let’s toss this one out to the commentariat for Sunday evening. Where is Perry going with this? Is it a populist step toward the center to grab the attention of disaffected voters suffering under the Obama economy or can he really thread that needle?