President Obama, we learned (again) in Wednesday night’s debate, deems the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 a great accomplishment in toto. Objection, Mr. President law-prof: lack of adequate foundation. You don’t know Dodd-Frank in its entirety or even in relevant part. Despite the prodigious length of the statute, its real-world content will depend on hundreds of mandated rulemaking proceeding in and by a dozen federal agencies. That job cannot be done: it would exceed the capacity of the regulatory agencies even if we quintupled their budgets and staff. And of the rules that the apparatus has managed to churn out, a good many have already been nixed by federal judges, Democrat and Republican appointees alike—for perfectly fine reasons, as Eugene Scalia has shown here.
President Romney, we also learned, would reform Dodd-Frank: keep the good parts, ding the parts that do harm and cost jobs. However, that cannot be done, either. By statutory design, the President of the United States has practically nothing to do with Dodd-Frank; in fact, he is affirmatively prohibited from meddling with its administration and those doing the administering. Changing that state of affairs would require 60 votes in the Senate, and good luck with that.