(RELATED: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back Against New GOP Efforts to Weaken Dodd-Frank)
But that's a far cry from what the GOP wants to do with Obamacare. In fact, if House leadership had proposed a budget that left an equivalent portion of the health care law intact, it would likely have prompted a caucus revolt. What explains the different approach to the two laws?
For one thing, on financial reform, the Republican Party lacks the lock-step unity it has on health care. Some party moderates are wary of being seen as too pro-megabank—a difficult perch to occupy following the financial collapse and ensuing mass layoffs, Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, told National Journal. "Dodd-Frank is far more divisive in the GOP caucus than Obamacare is."
A call for full repeal of Dodd-Frank also comes with more difficult messaging: The GOP has had success in blaming Obamacare for canceled insurance policies and higher premiums, but within the arcane world of high finance, connecting policy changes to voters' everyday lives is more difficult. That's all the more true when compared with the standard line from backers of the law: "These banks made risky bets, drove an economic meltdown, and then got billions in taxpayer subsidies—we can't let this happen again."
Furthermore, the financial industry has not been adamant about repeal. While there are plenty of provisions the banks dislike, they have preferred gradual changes that don't require them to reshuffle multibillion-dollar portfolios. "A lot of the banks say it's the evil I know that I can live with," Calabria said.
(RELATED: House GOP Budget Targets Dodd-Frank and Elizabeth Warren's Brainchild)
But while the GOP's thousand-cuts approach to Dodd-Frank doesn't fit as tidily in a candidate's stump speech, the tactic has significantly bit into the 2010 measure.
December's "CRomnibus" legislation included a provision that repealed part of the law that said bank holding companies were allowed to conduct only certain activities with derivatives in their nonbank subsidiaries. In January, when Congress passed the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, it included a provision exempting allowing nonfinancial end users of derivatives from restrictions that banks follow.
Now, in the latest budget, Republicans are hoping to make further cuts. The GOP argues that Orderly Liquidation Authority sets up taxpayers to again bail out banks, and the proposed House budget document proposes ending the process.
"Instead of rewarding corporate failure with taxpayer dollars, we ought to ensure responsibility for large, failing firms lies with the shareholders who own them, the managers who run them, and the creditors who finance them," the document said.
Former Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, one of the architects of the law, told National Journal that the Orderly Liquidation Authority was an idea that came directly from then-President Bush's Treasury secretary and Federal Reserve chairman. "The OLA they are trying to repeal, the outline came out from Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke," Frank said.