NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The retiring head of the Senate Banking Committee said on Monday that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout was the right thing to do in the fall of 2008 -- even if it was widely unpopular and cost his party dozens of seats in Congress.
Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D.-Conn.)
"I will go to my grave believing we did the right thing," Sen. Chris Dodd (D.-Conn.) said in a speech at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association's annual meeting. He reiterated that view in a Q&A session, saying the bailout was "exactly what we should have done at that moment and if we hadn't done it, we'd be looking at a very different country." Dodd is also the co-sponsor of the sweeping Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed earlier this year. He said the one most important thing left out of the bill was reforming the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He acknowledged "all the problems" associated with the GSEs but said there wasn't enough bipartisan support to include them in the bill. "The one area that cries out for effort is GSE reform," said Dodd. He added that, "in the conference on financial reform, every time there was a lull in the conversation, someone brought up GSE reform. Dodd noted that his successor as Banking Committee chairman, Tim Johnson (D.- S.D.), plans to take up the issue, as does the Obama administration at the start of 2010. As for his decision to retire after a long and distinguished tenure in the Senate with a big financial-reform task yet to be completed, Dodd said, essentially, that he was tired: "30 years was enough." "I'm a late-bloomer in the father business," said Dodd. "I have a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. I had my own grandkids. I'm spending a lot of time in ballet classes."