Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society
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REGULATING THE REGULATORS: THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH AND THE SEC, 1981-2008


"There was obviously a lot on the mind of the President.  I’m sure the SEC was not on the top of the agenda item at each morning briefing, but I certainly was never given the impression that the Commission was viewed as a backwater, unimportant, irrelevant or anything else."

- May 15, 2015 Interview with Steven Wallman

The 1980 election of President Ronald Reagan brought a different ethos to the nation about the value of the regulatory state.  During his campaign, Reagan advocated requiring that regulators consider the economic cost of the regulation versus the benefit to the economy as a whole before adoption.  In order to restore a balance to the economy under the weight of too many rules, he asserted that it was time to regulate the regulators. From 1981 to 2008, a predominately Republican White House presented the strongest counterweight to the regulatory state since the New Deal.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, both internally and in the face of significant financial industry upheaval, would face its stiffest challenges since its founding

The virtual museum and archive’s 15th Gallery is the museum’s largest to date, bringing together 990 primary and original materials from throughout the museum collection.

"Whether it’s being Chairman of the SEC or President of the United States, the problems that you’re going to have to confront aren’t the ones that you may necessarily have planned on confronting.  They may not be the ones you’re good at.  What you’d better be ready to do is accept that that’s part of the job, and accept that the criticism is going to go along with it, and that you’re going to have to make some people angry, and that you may be proven, in retrospect, in part to have been wrong."

- March 10, 2010 Interview with James Doty

1989 White House Cabinet Room: Richard Breeden, Assistant to the President (under Benjamin Franklin bust) and President George H.W. Bush (far right) (courtesy of Richard Breeden)

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