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PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 111th CONGRESS, 2nd SESSION

Vol. 155 Washington, Thursday, July 15, 2010 No. 14

Senate


WALL STREET REFORM: U.S. TAKES LEADERSHIP IN EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES TRANSPARENCY



HON. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN

OF MARYLAND

Friday, July 16, 2010


Mr. CARDIN. Madam President, I take this time to urge my colleagues to vote for cloture on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and to vote for final passage .

First, I congratulate Senator Dodd for the leadership he has shown in marshaling this legislation through some very difficult challenges in the Congress, getting it through the Senate floor, working out the differences between the House and Senate, so we now are on the verge of passing the most significant reform of Wall Street in many years.

This bill corrects a regulatory structure that today allows reckless gambling on Wall Street ; that creates too big to fail, where government bailouts are necessary to keep companies afloat because there are no other options available to our regulators. It ends reckless gambling on Wall Street . It ends the need for government bailouts of institutions that are too big to fail. It provides for strong consumer protection--protection for many forms of lending but, most importantly, the residential mortgage market.

We saw in this financial crisis that even responsible consumers suffered at the hands of aggressive lenders with dubious intentions. This legislation will create a consumer bureau that will end those types of practices, that will be on the side of the consumer, that is independent, so the consumer is represented in the financial structure.

I want to highlight some provisions that were included in this legislation I worked on with our colleagues to get included in the bill. I am very grateful to Senator Dodd, the leadership of the Banking Committee, and our representatives in conference who were able to include provisions that I think add to the importance of this bill.

The first provision I want to talk about is a provision I worked on with Senator Enzi and Senator Brownback that will make permanent the federally insured deposit limits from $100,000 to $250,000. We did that recently in order to encourage more deposits, to help our economy, to provide capital for businesses. This limit included in this bill is now made permanent at $250,000.

Insured deposits have been the stabilizing force for our Nation's banking system for the past 75 years. They promote public confidence in our banking system and prevent bank runs. They are particularly important to community banks. I know many of us talk about what we can do to help our small businesses, how can we free up more credit to get small businesses the loans they need in order to create the jobs that are needed for our economy. We all know community banks are the most stable source of funds for investments in our communities and small businesses.

Community banks rely more on insured deposits than large banks. Madam President, 85 percent to 90 percent of the funds community banks have are included in insured deposits. So this amendment that will make permanent the $250,000 limit will help provide a more steady source of funds for our community banks which will allow them to be able to invest in our communities.

Another provision that is included in this conference report is one I worked on with my colleague from Maryland, Senator Mikulski, dealing with the enhanced supervision for nonbank financial companies. What we are talking about are mutual funds and their advisers, to make sure they are not inadvertently subjected to unworkable standards. Here we are talking about promoting funds necessary for venture capital and equity investments in our communities, to make sure there is a difference between the type of activities of mutual fund operators who rely primarily on risk investment and those that are primarily involved in insured deposits. I appreciate the conference committee clarifying that provision in the conference report, which Senator Mikulski and I encouraged them to do.

Another provision I want to talk about very briefly is one I worked on with Senator Grassley dealing with whistleblower protections at nationally recognized statistical rating organizations, NRSROs as they are known. But I think most people in our country know them as credit rating agencies. These are companies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's. There are about 10 in our country that are supposed to do independent credit ratings for securities.

As I am sure many people are now aware, they played a significant role in the unrealistic confidence in securities during our recent economic down turn.

We want to make sure our credit rating agencies, in fact, carry out the responsibilities they are supposed to carry out as independent evaluators. But competition, pressure, and inherent conflicts have made that uncertain. The whistleblower protections that are extended in this legislation will allow employees to come forward with information without fear of retribution by their employer. It is a very important provision, and I am glad it was included in the final legislation.

Lastly, let me talk about the extractive industries transparency initiative, an amendment Senator Lugar and I worked very hard on , that is included in the final conference report. I have spoken on the Senate floor previously about this provision, and I particularly thank Senator Leahy for his leadership in the conference on this issue and Senator Dodd for his help in getting it included in the final conference report.

Oil, gas, and mining companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will be required under this legislation to disclose their payments to governments for access to oil, gas, or minerals. Many of these oil companies or gas companies or mineral companies operate in countries that are autocratic, unstable, or both, and they have to make payments to those countries in order to be able to get access to those mineral rights. This legislation--the amendment that is included in this bill--will require public disclosure of those payments.

Why is that so important? And why was it included in the final conference report? First, transparency encourages and provides for more stable governments. We rely on these energy sources or mineral supplies in countries that are of questionable stability.

If this disclosure will help make those countries more stable, it provides security for the United States in their supply source, whether it is an energy or mineral supply source. So this amendment that is included in the conference report will help with U.S. energy security.

Secondly, investors have a right to know. If you are going to invest in an oil company, you have a right to know where they are doing business, where they are making payments. I would think this is information that may affect your decision as to whether you want to take this risk in investing in that company. So this amendment provides greater disclosure for investors to be able to make intelligent decisions as to whether to invest in an oil or gas or mineral company.

Third, as we know, with the lack of transparency, the payments become a source of corruption for government officials in many of these resource-wealthy countries. It is interesting; it is known as the ``resource curse,'' not the ``resource blessing'' in many countries around the world. It is interesting that some of our most wealthy mineral countries are the poorest countries as far as their people in the world. The citizens of these countries are entitled to have their mineral wealth be used to elevate their personal status. By giving the citizens the information about how payments are made to their country, they have a much better chance to hold their government officials accountable.

So we not only are protecting investors and helping in energy security, we are helping to alleviate poverty internationally by allowing the people of the countries that have mineral wealth to hold their officials accountable, to use those payments to help the people of that nation.

This proposal has been endorsed by the G8, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. With the passage of the conference report, the United States will be the leader internationally on extractive industries transparency, and I think that is a proud moment not only for the Senate but for our Nation.

This is a good bill for many reasons. It is a well-organized, commonsense regulatory structure to protect our Nation from another financial crisis, with strong investor and consumer protection, placing limits on institutions deemed too big to fail, protecting not only investors and consumers but also taxpayers.

Over the past 30 years, our regulatory framework did not keep pace with financial innovation. It was particularly impotent with regard to oversight of the so-called shadow banking system, which evolved in large part simply to avoid regulation.

Decreased regulation led to irresponsible behavior by financiers, investors, lenders, and consumers. Collectively, we failed to mitigate risk and we ignored established principles of finance--prudence, solvency, and accountability. We can shift risk, but we cannot make it magically disappear. Bubbles do burst eventually.

Everyone played a part in the crisis. Together, we suffer the consequences. No man is an island; we are all connected.

Risky mortgage lending--practices including no-doc or stated income loans--no down payments, and subprime lending led to unprecedented foreclosures.

Consumers securing mortgages beyond their means and horrible predatory lending practices permeated our culture.

Even responsible consumers suffered at the hands of aggressive lenders with dubious intentions.

The mortgage lending system was seriously flawed. America got hit by a tidal wave of foreclosures. Declining home values affect everyone in the community.

And problems in mortgage lending became exacerbated when these bad mortgages were packaged into securities and sliced and diced and sold to investors with AAA credit ratings.

Careful underwriting went out the window because the loan originators sold the notes as fast as they could write them.

The bill the Senate is considering goes a long way to restore the order we need in the financial markets, improve oversight of the mortgage industry, and address the numerous other issues that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. This bill holds Wall Street more accountable and provides the strongest consumer protections ever for American families and small businesses.

I know there are partisan disagreements on some parts of this legislation and it was a challenge to get to this point, but the chairman and ranking member of the Banking Committee did an outstanding job on this bill and are to be commended for their effort. This is a landmark bill, like Sarbanes-Oxley and the original Securities and Exchange Commission Act. The lesson we had to learn, again, is that business--especially big business--cannot regulate itself adequately. I think H.R. 4173 strikes the right balance in reining in the financial services industry without being unduly burdensome.

I would like to review some of the provisions I worked on that have been included in the bill.

As I have said, Senators Enzi and Brownback joined me in proposing changes to the deposit insurance program. The Independent Community Bankers of America, ICBA, the American Bankers Association, ABA, and the National Credit Union Association, NCUA, all supported our amendment--now found in section 335 of the bill--to make the temporary increase in the federally insured deposit limit from $100,000 to $250,000--a permanent increase. An increase in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC, and National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, NCUSIF, limit is significant because deposit insurance has been the stabilizing force of our Nation's banking system for 75 years.

By raising the limit permanently, we provide safe and secure depositories for small businesses and individuals alike. FDIC insurance prevents bank runs and has been proven to increase public confidence in the system. FDIC insurance limits are especially significant to community banks, which rely on deposits much more heavily than larger banks. On average, smaller banks derive 85 percent to 90 percent of their funding from deposits. Ensuring a stable funding source for community banks helps these institutions to continue providing crucially important capital to the small businesses whose growth is at the heart of our economic recovery.

And as I mentioned earlier, during Senate consideration of the bill, I offered an amendment with Senator Mikulski to ensure that mutual funds and their advisers are not inadvertently subjected to unworkable standards in the unlikely event the Financial Stability Oversight Council designates them as systemically risky. In section 115 of the bill, the new council is given the flexibility to consider capital structure, riskiness, complexity, financial activities, size, and other factors when determining heightened regulatory standards. This is important for addressing the unique characteristics of companies that are structured differently from banks and bank holding companies.

Further, I am gratified the House and Senate conferees saw fit to retain an amendment, amendment No. 3840, Senator Grassley and I offered to the bill to extend whistleblower protections to employees of nationally recognized statistical rating organizations, NRSROs. The provision is section 922(b) of the bill.

NRSROs are the companies, such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's, which issue credit ratings that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, permits other financial firms to use for certain regulatory purposes. There are 10 NRSROs at present, including some privately held firms.

The NRSROs played a large role--by overestimating the safety of residential mortgage-backed securities, RMBS, and collateralized debt obligations, CDOs--in creating the housing bubble and making it bigger. Then, by making tardy but massive simultaneous downgrades of these securities, they contributed to the collapse of the subprime secondary market and the ``fire sale'' of assets, exacerbating the financial crisis.

A Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, PSI, hearing made it quite clear that competitive pressures and inherent conflicts of interest affected the objectivity of the ratings issued by the NRSROs.

Since NRSRO ratings are used for various regulatory purposes, such as determining net capital requirements and the soundness of insurance company reserves, it makes sense to extend whistleblower protections to employees who might come across malfeasance at a credit rating agency.

There are many reasons for the massive failure of the NRSROs. The Wall Street reform bill contains several provisions to improve SEC and congressional oversight of the NRSROs and how they function. Extending whistleblower status to the employees of these firms enhances the provisions already in the underlying bill.

As I have also said, my distinguished colleague, Senator Lugar, and I worked particularly hard on the energy security through transparency provision in this bill, which is section 1504--Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers. I am especially grateful to Senator Leahy, who championed this provision in the conference committee.

The geography and nature of the oil, gas, and mining industry is such that companies often have to operate in countries that are autocratic, unstable, or both. Investors need to know the full extent of a company's exposure when it operates in countries where it is subject to expropriation, political and social turmoil, and reputational risks.

In Nigeria, for example, American companies have had to take oil fields offline because of rebel activity and instability in the Niger Delta. Last year, Nigeria was producing almost a million barrels of oil less than it was able to produce because of conflict and instability. With so much production offline, American oil companies such as Chevron and Exxon have laid off workers and paid higher production costs because of added security.

This bipartisan amendment goes a long way to achieving transparency in this critical sector by requiring all foreign and domestic companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, to include in their annual report to the SEC how much they pay each government for access to its oil, gas, and minerals. This amendment is a critical part of the increased transparency and good governance that we are striving to achieve in the financial industry.

Our amendment is vitally important. Transparency helps create more stable governments, which in turn allows U.S. companies to operate more freely--and on a level playing field--in markets that are otherwise too risky or unstable.

Let me point out three key results we expect from this provision:

No. 1, enhancing U.S. energy security. The reliability of oil and gas supplies is undermined by the instability caused when local populations do not receive the benefit of their resource exports. Enhancing openness in revenue flows allows for greater public scrutiny of how revenues are used. Increased transparency can help create more stable, democratic governments, as well as more reliable energy suppliers.

No. 2, strengthening energy markets. The extractive industries are capital-intensive and dependent on long-term stability to generate favorable returns. Leading energy companies recognize that more transparent investment climates are better for their bottom lines.

No. 3, helping to alleviate poverty. Too many resource-rich countries that should be well off are home to many of the world's poor instead. This is a phenomenon known as the ``resource curse.'' Oil, gas reserves, and minerals don't automatically confer wealth on the people who live in countries where those resources are located. Many resource-rich countries rank at the bottom of most measures of human development, making them a breeding ground for poverty and instability. Revenue transparency will help the citizens of resource-rich countries hold their governments more accountable and ensure that their country's natural resource wealth is used wisely for the benefit of the entire nation and for future generations.

The wave of the future is transparency, and these principles of transparency have been endorsed by the G8, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and a number of regional development banks. It is clear to the financial leaders of the world that transparency in natural resource development is vital to holding the rulers in these countries accountable for the needs of their citizens and preventing them from simply building up their personal offshore bank accounts. I am proud to stand here today and say that the United States is now the leader in creating a new standard for revenue transparency in the extractive industries.

These are some of the provisions I worked on , but they are a small part of the overall bill, which is very strong.

Forty years ago, conservative economist Milton Friedman wrote a New York Times Magazine article entitled ``The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.'' In this article, quoting from his earlier book ``Capitalism and Freedom,'' from 1962, he concluded:

There is one and only one social responsibility of business--to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.

Even this minimalist position suggests that markets need rules. And yet we embarked on a 30-year path to deregulate financial services, to ease the rules, and remove the watchdogs. We have learned a bitter lesson that markets are not self-correcting--at least Community banks rely more on insured deposits than large banks. Madam President, 85 percent to 90 percent of the funds community banks have are included in insured deposits. So this amendment that will make permanent the $250,000 limit will help provide a more steady source of funds for our community banks which will allow them to be able to invest in our communities.

Another provision that is included in this conference report is one I worked on with my colleague from Maryland, Senator Mikulski, dealing with the enhanced supervision for nonbank financial companies. What we are talking about are mutual funds and their advisers, to make sure they are not inadvertently subjected to unworkable standards. Here we are talking about promoting funds necessary for venture capital and equity investments in our communities, to make sure there is a difference between the type of activities of mutual fund operators who rely primarily on risk investment and those that are primarily involved in insured deposits. I appreciate the conference committee clarifying that provision in the conference report, which Senator Mikulski and I encouraged them to do.

Another provision I want to talk about very briefly is one I worked on with Senator Grassley dealing with whistleblower protections at nationally recognized statistical rating organizations, NRSROs as they are known. But I think most people in our country know them as credit rating agencies. These are companies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's. There are about 10 in our country that are supposed to do independent credit ratings for securities.

As I am sure many people are now aware, they played a significant role in the unrealistic confidence in securities during our recent economic downturn.

We want to make sure our credit rating agencies, in fact, carry out the responsibilities they are supposed to carry out as independent evaluators. But competition, pressure, and inherent conflicts have made that uncertain. The whistleblower protections that are extended in this legislation will allow employees to come forward with information without fear of retribution by their employer. It is a very important provision, and I am glad it was included in the final legislation.

Lastly, let me talk about the extractive industries transparency initiative, an amendment Senator Lugar and I worked very hard on , that is included in the final conference report. I have spoken on the Senate floor previously about this provision, and I particularly thank Senator Leahy for his leadership in the conference on this issue and Senator Dodd for his help in getting it included in the final conference report.

Oil, gas, and mining companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will be required under this legislation to disclose their payments to governments for access to oil, gas, or minerals. Many of these oil companies or gas companies or mineral companies operate in countries that are autocratic, unstable, or both, and they have to make payments to those countries in order to be able to get access to those mineral rights. This legislation--the amendment that is included in this bill--will require public disclosure of those payments.

Why is that so important? And why was it included in the final conference report? First, transparency encourages and provides for more stable governments. We rely on these energy sources or mineral supplies in countries that are of questionable stability.

If this disclosure will help make those countries more stable, it provides security for the United States in their supply source, whether it is an energy or mineral supply source. So this amendment that is included in the conference report will help with U.S. energy security.

Secondly, investors have a right to know. If you are going to invest in an oil company, you have a right to know where they are doing business, where they are making payments. I would think this is information that may affect your decision as to whether you want to take this risk in investing in that company. So this amendment provides greater disclosure for investors to be able to make intelligent decisions as to whether to invest in an oil or gas or mineral company.

Third, as we know, with the lack of transparency, the payments become a source of corruption for government officials in many of these resource-wealthy countries. It is interesting; it is known as the ``resource curse,'' not the ``resource blessing'' in many countries around the world. It is interesting that some of our most wealthy mineral countries are the poorest countries as far as their people in the world. The citizens of these countries are entitled to have their mineral wealth be used to elevate their personal status. By giving the citizens the information about how payments are made to their country, they have a much better chance to hold their government officials accountable.

So we not only are protecting investors and helping in energy security, we are helping to alleviate poverty internationally by allowing the people of the countries that have mineral wealth to hold their officials accountable, to use those payments to help the people of that nation.

This proposal has been endorsed by the G8, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. With the passage of the conference report, the United States will be the leader internationally on extractive industries transparency, and I think that is a proud moment not only for the Senate but for our Nation.

This is a good bill for many reasons. It is a well-organized, commonsense regulatory structure to protect our Nation from another financial crisis, with strong investor and consumer protection, placing limits on institutions deemed too big to fail, protecting not only investors and consumers but also taxpayers.

Over the past 30 years, our regulatory framework did not keep pace with financial innovation. It was particularly impotent with regard to oversight of the so-called shadow banking system, which evolved in large part simply to avoid regulation.

Decreased regulation led to irresponsible behavior by financiers, investors, lenders, and consumers. Collectively, we failed to mitigate risk and we ignored established principles of finance--prudence, solvency, and accountability. We can shift risk, but we cannot make it magically disappear. Bubbles do burst eventually.

Everyone played a part in the crisis. Together, we suffer the consequences. No man is an island; we are all connected.

Risky mortgage lending--practices including no-doc or stated income loans--no down payments, and subprime lending led to unprecedented foreclosures.

Consumers securing mortgages beyond their means and horrible predatory lending practices permeated our culture.

Even responsible consumers suffered at the hands of aggressive lenders with dubious intentions.

The mortgage lending system was seriously flawed. America got hit by a tidal wave of foreclosures. Declining home values affect everyone in the community.

And problems in mortgage lending became exacerbated when these bad mortgages were packaged into securities and sliced and diced and sold to investors with AAA credit ratings.

Careful underwriting went out the window because the loan originators sold the notes as fast as they could write them.

The bill the Senate is considering goes a long way to restore the order we need in the financial markets, improve oversight of the mortgage industry, and address the numerous other issues that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. This bill holds Wall Street more accountable and provides the strongest consumer protections ever for American families and small businesses.

I know there are partisan disagreements on some parts of this legislation and it was a challenge to get to this point, but the chairman and ranking member of the Banking Committee did an outstanding job on this bill and are to be commended for their effort. This is a landmark bill, like Sarbanes-Oxley and the original Securities and Exchange Commission Act. The lesson we had to learn, again, is that business--especially big business--cannot regulate itself adequately. I think H.R. 4173 strikes the right balance in reining in the financial services industry without being unduly burdensome.

I would like to review some of the provisions I worked on that have been included in the bill.

As I have said, Senators Enzi and Brownback joined me in proposing changes to the deposit insurance program. The Independent Community Bankers of America, ICBA, the American Bankers Association, ABA, and the National Credit Union Association, NCUA, all supported our amendment--now found in section 335 of the bill--to make the temporary increase in the federally insured deposit limit from $100,000 to $250,000--a permanent increase. An increase in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, FDIC, and National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, NCUSIF, limit is significant because deposit insurance has been the stabilizing force of our Nation's banking system for 75 years.

By raising the limit permanently, we provide safe and secure depositories for small businesses and individuals alike. FDIC insurance prevents bank runs and has been proven to increase public confidence in the system. FDIC insurance limits are especially significant to community banks, which rely on deposits much more heavily than larger banks. On average, smaller banks derive 85 percent to 90 percent of their funding from deposits. Ensuring a stable funding source for community banks helps these institutions to continue providing crucially important capital to the small businesses whose growth is at the heart of our economic recovery.

And as I mentioned earlier, during Senate consideration of the bill, I offered an amendment with Senator Mikulski to ensure that mutual funds and their advisers are not inadvertently subjected to unworkable standards in the unlikely event the Financial Stability Oversight Council designates them as systemically risky. In section 115 of the bill, the new council is given the flexibility to consider capital structure, riskiness, complexity, financial activities, size, and other factors when determining heightened regulatory standards. This is important for addressing the unique characteristics of companies that are structured differently from banks and bank holding companies.

Further, I am gratified the House and Senate conferees saw fit to retain an amendment, amendment No. 3840, Senator Grassley and I offered to the bill to extend whistleblower protections to employees of nationally recognized statistical rating organizations, NRSROs. The provision is section 922(b) of the bill.

NRSROs are the companies, such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's, which issue credit ratings that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, permits other financial firms to use for certain regulatory purposes. There are 10 NRSROs at present, including some privately held firms.

The NRSROs played a large role--by overestimating the safety of residential mortgage-backed securities, RMBS, and collateralized debt obligations, CDOs--in creating the housing bubble and making it bigger. Then, by making tardy but massive simultaneous downgrades of these securities, they contributed to the collapse of the subprime secondary market and the ``fire sale'' of assets, exacerbating the financial crisis.

A Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, PSI, hearing made it quite clear that competitive pressures and inherent conflicts of interest affected the objectivity of the ratings issued by the NRSROs.

Since NRSRO ratings are used for various regulatory purposes, such as determining net capital requirements and the soundness of insurance company reserves, it makes sense to extend whistleblower protections to employees who might come across malfeasance at a credit rating agency.

There are many reasons for the massive failure of the NRSROs. The Wall Street reform bill contains several provisions to improve SEC and congressional oversight of the NRSROs and how they function. Extending whistleblower status to the employees of these firms enhances the provisions already in the underlying bill.

As I have also said, my distinguished colleague, Senator Lugar, and I worked particularly hard on the energy security through transparency provision in this bill, which is section 1504--Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers. I am especially grateful to Senator Leahy, who championed this provision in the conference committee.

The geography and nature of the oil, gas, and mining industry is such that companies often have to operate in countries that are autocratic, unstable, or both. Investors need to know the full extent of a company's exposure when it operates in countries where it is subject to expropriation, political and social turmoil, and reputational risks.

In Nigeria, for example, American companies have had to take oil fields offline because of rebel activity and instability in the Niger Delta. Last year, Nigeria was producing almost a million barrels of oil less than it was able to produce because of conflict and instability. With so much production offline, American oil companies such as Chevron and Exxon have laid off workers and paid higher production costs because of added security.

This bipartisan amendment goes a long way to achieving transparency in this critical sector by requiring all foreign and domestic companies registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, to include in their annual report to the SEC how much they pay each government for access to its oil, gas, and minerals. This amendment is a critical part of the increased transparency and good governance that we are striving to achieve in the financial industry.

Our amendment is vitally important. Transparency helps create more stable governments, which in turn allows U.S. companies to operate more freely--and on a level playing field--in markets that are otherwise too risky or unstable.

Let me point out three key results we expect from this provision:

No. 1, enhancing U.S. energy security. The reliability of oil and gas supplies is undermined by the instability caused when local populations do not receive the benefit of their resource exports. Enhancing openness in revenue flows allows for greater public scrutiny of how revenues are used. Increased transparency can help create more stable, democratic governments, as well as more reliable energy suppliers.

No. 2, strengthening energy markets. The extractive industries are capital-intensive and dependent on long-term stability to generate favorable returns. Leading energy companies recognize that more transparent investment climates are better for their bottom lines.

No. 3, helping to alleviate poverty. Too many resource-rich countries that should be well off are home to many of the world's poor instead. This is a phenomenon known as the ``resource curse.'' Oil, gas reserves, and minerals don't automatically confer wealth on the people who live in countries where those resources are located. Many resource-rich countries rank at the bottom of most measures of human development, making them a breeding ground for poverty and instability. Revenue transparency will help the citizens of resource-rich countries hold their governments more accountable and ensure that their country's natural resource wealth is used wisely for the benefit of the entire nation and for future generations.

The wave of the future is transparency, and these principles of transparency have been endorsed by the G8, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and a number of regional development banks. It is clear to the financial leaders of the world that transparency in natural resource development is vital to holding the rulers in these countries accountable for the needs of their citizens and preventing them from simply building up their personal offshore bank accounts. I am proud to stand here today and say that the United States is now the leader in creating a new standard for revenue transparency in the extractive industries.

These are some of the provisions I worked on , but they are a small part of the overall bill, which is very strong.

Forty years ago, conservative economist Milton Friedman wrote a New York Times Magazine article entitled ``The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.'' In this article, quoting from his earlier book ``Capitalism and Freedom,'' from 1962, he concluded:

There is one and only one social responsibility of business--to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.

Even this minimalist position suggests that markets need rules. And yet we embarked on a 30-year path to deregulate financial services, to ease the rules, and remove the watchdogs. We have learned a bitter lesson that markets are not self-correcting--at least not without catastrophic consequences. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, and their retirement security. Businesses have been wiped out. We have gone from easy credit to no credit.

Now that the financial hurricane has wreaked its devastation, it is time to rebuild.

H.R. 4173 is part of that process. The bill creates well-organized, commonsense regulatory structures to protect our Nation from another financial crisis. Chairman Dodd and Chairman Frank have produced a bill that addresses the feasibility of our reliance on credit rating agencies, our appetite for systemic risk, and the need to limit the regulatory burden on our small institutions. They have produced a bill that provides strong investor and consumer protections, encourages whistleblowers, reduces interchange fees for small businesses, and places limits on institutions deemed too big to fail. I know that Maryland banks and investment companies appreciate the attention paid in this bill to their concerns regarding bank and thrift oversight, systemic risk regulation, and the effects of the mortgage crisis.

While Members of Congress may not agree on every aspect of this bill, it is worthy of our support. Indeed, given the stakes, it is imperative that we pass H.R. 4173.

I urge my colleagues to vote for cloture and support passage .

Madam President, I yield the floor.





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Senator Cardin walks with Michael C. Polt, U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, on July 7, 2010