Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Kaufman to keep up pressure on financial oversight

Source: The News Journal

By Harry Themal

October 18, 2010

Ted KAUFMAN will no longer be senator in less than a month, but that doesn't mean he will stay out of the public spotlight.

KAUFMAN's 21-month "interim" term succeeding his long-time boss and friend, Vice President Joe Biden, will formally end with the swearing-in of his four-year successor on Nov. 15, when Congress returns. KAUFMAN, though, has already said his farewell to the Senate to which he was, as a colleague put it, "an extremely generous resource [who] knows the rhythms of this institution."

His immediate plan is joining wife Lynne on vacations and visits with his children and grandchildren. In January, he will continue his decade-old association with the Duke in D.C. Program, teaching and mentoring students from Duke University in becoming acquainted with and hopefully seeking a career in federal government. KAUFMAN, a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering graduate of Duke, will watch over the students' externships with members and committees of Congress, and with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations that do liaison and lobbying in Washington. On the fifth day each week, KAUFMAN will teach them on the federal policy process.

KAUFMAN expects to remain an outspoken gadfly on the need for more transparency of, and controls over, a financial system that still seems out of control at times. Although he hails the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill -- formally the Federal Enforcement and Recovery Act -- he feels it leaves too much enforcement to the regulators instead of formally spelling out the rules. In an interview last week, he asked what would happen if a future president believes in a strictly free market. Chances are we could return to the major problems that have caused our present recession.

He is especially concerned about opaque high-frequency trading, a subject on which he was outspoken again in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview this month. Estimates are that as much as 70 percent of stock trading is currently done by computer traders whose programs deal in microseconds and pennies to produce giant gains (or losses). One such trade in May caused the stock market to plummet and it took until recently to find out what happened. KAUFMAN says transparency is vitally needed to see who is doing what, to see if fraud might be involved, to regulate this segment of the financial industry.

KAUFMAN also wants to see a return to something resembling the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, repealed in 1999 in the Clinton administration, so that once again there would be a separation of speculative and risky activities from the government-guaranteed portion of the banking industry. Then there is the lack of control on banks too big to fail and on the need to curb abusive short-selling (where bets are made that stocks will lose value). He plans to make sure he remains "a voice for the average investor" through writing, congressional appearances, speeches and any other way he can get across his "pragmatic" views.

One of KAUFMAN's last proud achievements is the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act, at this writing still awaiting President Obama's signature, which encourages presidential candidates to engage in getting ready for the White House well before the actual election and assigns the General Services Administration to provide that help.

A continuing interest of his is STEM education, assuring that our young people are interested in and get excellent schooling in science, technology engineering and mathematics. KAUFMAN believes our country's future lies in the ability of graduating students to excel in these areas. He says some Delaware schools already host outstanding programs.

He also has an immediate assignment as the new chair of congressional oversight of TARP, the $750 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed during the Bush administration. Much of that money has been repaid and the program expires next April but one element of it, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, has not been a success in stemming mortgage foreclosures. KAUFMAN, who has a master's degree in business administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, warns that a new mortgage crisis, with thousands of foreclosure documents apparently illegally processed, represents a new threat to the economy.

Delaware was indeed lucky and can be proud to have had Ted KAUFMAN's service in the U.S. Senate.

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