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 The art of politics is all about using words. Words come before policy.

I noticed that yet again, the right-wing is beating us in this art.

reform: make changes in (something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.

regulate:  To control or direct according to rule, principle, or law.

  Consider the words reform versus regulate. Which word do you think Wall Street needs the most?
   In order to properly clean up Wall Street there needs to be both, but this is politics we are talking about. Which word would resonate with the public better?

 Regulation is why you need to get a fishing license. Regulation is why you have to give the DMV money so you can drive your car. Regulation is a pile of paperwork that small businessmen must fill out every year.
   Regulation is a bad thing.

   Reform is something you do to fight corruption. Reform is something you do to cut red tape. Reform is something you do to make your life better.
   Reform is a good thing.

  The right-wing figured this one out a long time ago. That's why they deregulate rather than de-reform, eventhough de-reform is exactly what they've been doing.

   So why is the left-wing talking in terms of "regulating Wall Street" rather than "reforming Wall Street"? It's a political non-starter.

  To make matters worse, regulation is also self-limiting.
If we were pushing to reform Wall Street, then we would address the corrupt incentives of Wall Street. We would want to change the way Wall Street does business.
   By only pushing to regulate Wall Street, we are merely looking to eliminate the excesses of Wall Street. The status quo will remain by definition of the word.

  This is why Glass-Steagall was so successful, but Dodd-Frank has been a failure so far. Glass-Steagall did things like break the commercial banks from the investment banks. That's reforms.
  Dodd-Frank, OTOH, instructed regulators to write new regulations. There was no significant changes in how Wall Street does business. There were no changes in incentives.

  Americans overwhelmingly approve of re-regulating Wall Street.
   However, a majority believe that not enough has been done to reform Wall Street.

Originally posted to gjohnsit on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 03:36 PM PST.

Also republished by Political Language and Messaging.

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