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Former 'Car Czar' Rattner Gives Dodd-Frank A Qualified Endorsement

Steven Rattner — the "car czar" when the Obama administration was restructuring the auto industry in 2009 — today spoke in favor of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

But it wasn't exactly a double thumbs up.

On a panel at an ideas conference in New York City, Rattner noted that before the financial crisis began in 2008, Wall Street was the "global leader in finance. ... But of course, it got out of control."

Congressional Democrats, with the support of the White House, passed a massive overhaul bill in 2010, clamping down on financial markets. The legislation, which contains hundreds of new rules, could slow innovation in the financial sector.

Widely denounced by Republicans, Dodd-Frank "is not what anyone would want," Rattner said. Nevertheless, "something had to be done [and] this is the unfortunate consequence," he said. Rattner believes any harm done by imposing heavy regulations on Wall Street firms is the price that must be paid now for too much freedom in the past.

The ideas conference is sponsored by the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit group, and The Atlantic magazine and the New York Historical Society.

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Marilyn Geewax is a contributor to NPR.