When This Week assembled a round-table of four liberals versus one conservative yesterday, I kvetched. Maybe I should have cheered. ABC's idea of balance looks good compared to that of CBS. This morning's Early Show preview of the Bush admin's plan, to be announced later today, to regulate the financial industry was essentially conservative-free. OK, to be absolutely accurate, there was a brief clip of Treasury Secretary Paulson saying the plan would protect the Fed's balance sheet and US taxpayers.
But in her set-up piece, CBS's Kimberly Dozier emphasized the negative: "critics say it's win-win for banks, not the consumer. Less regulation, but no new legal limits to stop questionable lending practices or to stop the shell-game financial structures that led to the current mortgage debacle." The only expert she aired was University of Maryland economist Peter Morici who griped that under the plan: "[banks] can still engage in sharp practices that got them in trouble. There's no reason to believe that this regulatory format will keep the kind of crisis we just had from happening again. Nor will it get us out of this recession."
Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez took the baton from there. She first interviewed Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who claimed Congress had already given the Fed "massive" regulatory authority. Dodd predictably blamed the current situation on "a failure of leadership." Then it was on to Rodriguez's in-studio chat with CBS News biz correspondent Anthony Mason who--surprise!-- was also a critic of the plan.
View video here.
ANTHONY MASON: There are a lot of things that we need to be clear that it won't do. As Senator Dodd says, it could streamline the system, that's what it's about. But it doesn't address many of the problems that caused this crisis. For example, many lenders will still be unregulated. Those complex financial securities that were used to chop up those bad loans and sell them off to investors, they're not regulated. This won't make it easier for you to get a loan, to get a house or a car loan, it doesn't address those problems.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Quickly, do you think it will at least give the market a boost in the short term?
MASON: The markets will like this because as one economist said to me, las night this is the go-easy on Wall Street plan. It streamlines things but there's not a lot of new regulation.
Not a lot of new regulation? Oh no! Only those greedy Wall Street types will like it.
All in all, CBS's chorus of critics was enough to make you yearn for ABC's good old four-against-one idea of fair 'n balanced.