Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2010

SIGNS OF PROGRESS ON WALL STREET REFORM?.... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had taken the lead in trying to kill Wall Street reform. Today, on the Senate floor, he struck a less antagonistic tone, and there were signs of possible progress.

On Tuesday, McConnell returned to the chamber and announced he was "heartened to hear that bipartisan talks have resumed in earnest." Senate Democratic leaders are preparing to bring the overhaul bill to the floor as early as Thursday, but all 41 Republicans have signed a letter stating their opposition to the bill in its current form. Unless Democrats can peel off at least one GOP senator to allow debate to proceed, a GOP-led filibuster could block financial regulatory reform indefinitely. [...]

"I'm happy to hear my counterpart, my friend, Senator McConnell talk about the need for more negotiations," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), in remarks on the floor following McConnell's speech Tuesday. "We don't stand in the way of that."

McConnell also told reporters today, "We believe the process to achieve [a bipartisan bill] has now been reconstituted. We are all confident that this can be fixed... Senator Shelby [the Republicans' chief financial reform negotiator] believes that there's been a very serious effort to re-engage."

McConnell said the progress is the result of his threats and the letter with 41 Republican signatures vowing to unanimously oppose the legislation. Democrats are suggesting the progress is the result of a) McConnell struggling to keep his caucus united; b) bad press after McConnell was caught blatantly lying; c) bad press after the secretive trip to Wall Street by GOP leaders; or d) some combination of all of them.

Whatever. The point is, the effort appears, at least for now, to be gaining some ground in the Senate. In fact, Sam Stein reports that Republican Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the ranking member on the Banking Committee, said negotiations "have progressed to the point that the debate now centers on specific language rather than individual proposals."

While McConnell specifically said just 48 hours ago that he wants to see senators "go back to the drawing board" on crafting the legislation, Shelby said, "We are not going back to the drawing board. I have said all along that we are probably conceptually together on -- I've even said -- 85 percent... Now we are getting down to words and phrases."

If recent history is any guide, Republicans may very well be jerking Democrats around (again), and will decide to reject the proposal in its entirety after the latest round of talks, no matter what Dems offer in good faith. But, at least for today, there's evidence of some progress.

Steve Benen 4:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

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Can the GOP get a new playbook? At least one written by an adult?

Posted by: Former Dan on April 20, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

jeez, watching the intro to hardball, and it looks like tweety saw mark halperin this morning, who's a guest; he just referenced frank luntz and called out the republican lies (he actually used the word).

and now he just apologized for using the word 'lie'.


Posted by: bkny on April 20, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to recall a time back last fall when a senior republican said we were 80 (or was it 85 percent) in agreement on a health care reform bill?

I'm not going to hold my breath here.

Posted by: Eeyore on April 20, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

McConnell. . . announced he was "heartened to hear that bipartisan talks have resumed in earnest."

The Japanese are not alone in "saving face."

Posted by: DAY on April 20, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans need to kill that secret-meeting story; it's gaining traction, and the latest news about Goldman is threatening to haul the GOP's masters before the guillotine. If I were the Dems on this one, I'd see how far back I could rock McConnell back on his heels before I agreed to play the bipartisan card.

In the meantime, the investigations need to go on at full speed.

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 20, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

call me pessimistic, but if Repubs are talking this way, it means Dodd and Reid have promised major concessions in an already weak bill to get the Republicans out of the heat.

its hard to be a Democrat some days.

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 20, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Triage: Liquidating the liquidation-fund

If recent history is any guide, Republicans may very well be jerking Democrats around (again)...

I don't think so Steve...
Not in this case anyhow.

Wall Street realizes all forces are arrayed against them. And Republicans are no doubt doing some internal polling and realize this is lose-lose for them. The best the GOP can hope for right now is to scuttle the private liquidation fund.

So it's pure triage on their part right now. They'll come aboard if Democrats don't make the Casino owners put aside some cash as insurance against the next Minsky moment. That way they will remain: "too big to lose all their money."

Posted by: koreyel on April 20, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

what is really annoying is that now with the R's backs against the wall and everyone firing at them is the time to add stringent provisions to the bill, not remove the liquidation fund. . .

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 20, 2010 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Evidence of progress?!!

Benen, you are hopelessly stuck in the role of the pageboy in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

Posted by: JW on April 20, 2010 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ha, coincidentally I happened to call Shelby's local office (I'm a constituent) right about the time Steve posted this item. I'd love to take credit for Shelby's role in the Republican change of heart, but the readership of this blog is probably not gullible enough to buy it.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on April 20, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

After witnessing the HCR debacle, anyone who believes this bullshit is a sign of progress is a total fool.

Steve, are you a fool?!

Posted by: bdop4 on April 20, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

"You need to compromise on whatever shitty cover story we can think of for being opposed to our good banker friends' bill" isn't much of a basis for bipartisanship.

Posted by: Shalimar on April 20, 2010 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Now we are getting down to words and phrases.

Like changing "shall" to "shall not", and vice-versa.

Posted by: qwerty on April 20, 2010 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Calling all Peanuts... Attention please, Lucy and Charlie...

Posted by: exlibra on April 20, 2010 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Ah if only I were negotiating with Shelby. I'd say "Senator? You can have my answer now, if you like. My final offer is this: nothing."

I'd say first have Lincoln and Dodd reach an agreed bill. Then present it to the Republicans. Then take it the floor with no changes at all. Oh and schedule a cloture vote a week until November.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann on April 20, 2010 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be the first time in history that the Republican party ( in general and as a majority whole) did not blatantly reject a Democratic proposal simply for the fact that it came from the other side of the isle.

Posted by: Michael on April 20, 2010 at 9:04 PM | PERMALINK

OK--so the Dems aren't going to tax financial firms to create a fund to resolve future Wall Street implosions, b/c that would "encourage bailouts." And Sen. Boxer wants to amend the bill so that no taxpayer money will be used, either (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/live/financial-reform-wire/#331028)

So the next time a shadow-banking Wall Street giant goes under, who will pay for the clean-up?

This bill looks more useless all the time.

Posted by: WhatsThePoint on April 21, 2010 at 7:58 AM | PERMALINK

We will see if this new comity will hold - I have my doubts. I assume he decided to play nice because being so vocal in his ass-backwardness was bad PR.

Posted by: ET on April 21, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

This is progress of a sort.

They claim it's a partisan bill.

The Democrats say, "Fine, let's make it bipartisan."

41 GOP Senators write a letter saying they refuse to discuss Finance reform.

Democrats, feigning confusion ask: "How can we make a bill bipartisan if you refuse to tell us how it's partisan?"

GOP Senators all look around at themselves, some having the brains necessary to feel like jackasses.

McConnell realizes that refusing to discuss something looks shady announces breakthrough.

Oh, they'll filibuster the bill, sure, but they cannot possibly look good in the eyes of the public when they refuse to talk about something frightfully popular like avoiding future bailouts, which they said was what the bill needed.

Honestly, have they never played chess? They don't even look ONE move ahead. They legislate with their limbic system; no engagement of the frontal cortex whatsoever.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 21, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK



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