Heinrich’s Dodd Frank Flip

New Mexico Dem changes positions on financial bill to mask out-of-the-mainstream views

Martin Heinrich / AP
August 15, 2012

Democratic New Mexico Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich has flipped on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform regulations.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act instituted sweeping new regulations on the financial industry, tightened controls on lending practices, and created costly new federal agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of Financial Research. Though business leaders denounced Dodd-Frank and predicted "chaos" for the regulatory system, the bill passed the U.S. House in December 2009 by a 223-202 vote. Heinrich voted in the majority.

Heinrich "was proud to vote for the (Dodd-Frank) Wall Street Reform and Protection Act," according to a July 1, 2010, press release issued by Heinrich’s congressional office. He also praised the bill in a July 17, 2010, speech at a New Mexico picnic, calling it "the most comprehensive Wall Street reform legislation since Glass-Steagall."

"The signing of this bill marks the end of an era of turning a blind eye to unbridled greed and lack of oversight that led to our nation’s financial crisis," Heinrich said in a July 21, 2010, press release after President Obama signed Dodd-Frank into law.

However, Heinrich seemingly changed his position in an August 9, 2012, interview with the Hobbs News Sun.

Heinrich told the local New Mexico paper that banking reform for housing is "way too strict," adding, "We went from way too lenient to way too strict … lending is slowing down the economy.

"The new banking regulations contained in the Dodd-Frank bill are a red tape nightmare, causing small banks all across New Mexico to hold back on lending to people with good credit who want to refinance their homes or expand a small business," Chris Sanchez, spokesman for Heinrich’s Republican Senate opponent Heather Wilson, said in a statement.

"So why did Congressman Heinrich vote for it in the first place?" Sanchez asked.

Despite its progressive aims, the Dodd-Frank bill has reportedly placed the brunt of its regulatory burdens on small banks, forcing people to open accounts with larger institutions and exacerbating the "too-big-to-fail" effect. The large banks have increased in size since Dodd-Frank’s passage. Even liberal New York senator Chuck Schumer acknowledged in 2011 that expansive proposals put forward by financial regulators in accordance with Dodd-Frank are damaging to the U.S. economy and "inconsistent with congressional intent."

Dodd-Frank "has had some dire and unintended consequences for small community banks across New Mexico that have made it more difficult for credit-worthy New Mexicans to get the loans they need to buy cars and homes and to start or expand small businesses," according to Democratic New Mexico State Senator Pete Campos.

"The last thing we need is more regulation," New Mexico state Rep. Thomas C. Taylor, the minority floor leader of the New Mexico legislature and a former small banking professional, told the Free Beacon. "When you increase the regulatory burden, you increase the difficulty for small banks."

This is not the first time in the current Senate race Heinrich has hidden from his past liberal policies.

In the same Hobbs News Sun interview, Heinrich criticized cap and trade as an "unfeasible" solution to America’s energy problems, despite previously voting in favor of the program. Heinrich has also flipped on gay marriage, offshore domestic drilling, and the medical device tax provision in Obamacare, as the Washington Free Beacon has reported.

The Wilson campaign’s frequent criticism of Heinrich’s "extremist agenda" in interviews and television ads is viewed as the reason for the Democrat’s recent flip-flops in the local press.

Wilson told the Free Beacon that Heinrich’s policy flip-flops "raise questions of trust." She has used Heinrich’s indecision against him.

"You couldn’t watch the Olympics without seeing an ad from one of them," said New Mexico Watchdog reporter Rob Nikowleski, who noted that most of the advertising on both sides, from the campaigns and from Super PACS, has turned negative.

"Heinrich knowingly puts his leftwing politics before jobs," asserted a recent Wilson campaign ad on the medical device tax issue. "That’s too extreme for New Mexico."

The Heinrich campaign did not return a request for comment.