WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama won re-election late Tuesday, a big loss for bankers that had overwhelming favored his opponent.
But Democrat's financial policy agenda over the next two years will be far more about defending their past achievements than scoring new ones.
During the party's convention in Charlotte, key Democratic lawmakers called the election their opportunity to cement the Dodd-Frank Act, which Republicans were vowing to scale back.
"I can't imagine an ambitious agenda coming out of Democrats in Congress," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., who is retiring from Congress, in reference to the next 12 months. "Their energies will be taken by the effort to protect the reforms that we passed."
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, agreed.
"I think that if we can take the House again, we can make sure that Dodd-Frank does what it's intended to do," he said.
The election results ratified the status quo in Washington, with the Democrats retaining the White House and holding onto Senate control, while Republicans maintained control of the House.
Democrats argued in pre-election interviews that it will be up to the Republicans — on a range of issues affecting the economy — to decide whether they are going to continue a legislative strategy that the Democrats characterize as obstructionism.
"If the president wins, as we expect that he will, then the Republicans will have to make a choice," said Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, during an event in Charlotte hosted by Politico. "Are they going to continue down the path they've been on … or will they make a change?"
In financial policy, the one major area where there is bipartisan agreement on the need for congressional action is the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There is also a widespread belief that a reform bill can only become law if Democrats and Republicans work together to find a consensus.
"I think ultimately it's going to take compromise," Green said. "I don't think either side is going to have its way."