Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 28, 2010

WILL THE THIRD TIME BE THE CHARM ON WALL STREET REFORM?.... On Democratic Wall Street reform efforts, yesterday afternoon looked an awful lot like Monday afternoon -- Senate Republicans still refuse to allow a floor debate on the bill -- but the pressure continues to get a little more intense.

President Obama went to the heartland to pitch financial reform Tuesday, but unimpressed Senate Republicans blocked the overhaul for a second straight day.

With Obama in Iowa, one Democrat and every GOP senator stayed united to block the start of debate on the bill. The measure would regulate Wall Street's trading in complex investments known as derivatives, curtail "too big to fail" bailouts and create a consumer financial watchdog.

The President declared the unified front shows the GOP is answering to greedy financiers' lobbyists.

"It's one thing to oppose reform, but to oppose just even talking about reform in front of the American people, and having a legitimate debate, that's not right," Obama said. "The American people deserve an honest debate on this bill."

For their part, Senate Republican leaders began circulating their own version of the legislation, which wasn't too terribly dissimilar to the Democratic proposal, though it would water down key provisions, and tighten regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- a step Dems believe is better suited for a separate bill. GOP senators continued to reserve their strongest opposition to the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency -- a point of particular interest to the Monthly right now -- and Republican said their version would limit its authority to regulating smaller banks and nonfinancial companies, leaving the industry's heavy hitters alone.

Dems will reportedly try, once again, to get 60 votes to allow the Senate to debate the bill today, but there's at least some evidence that Republican unity is starting to crack. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) indicated late yesterday that he's leaning towards switching his vote and allowing the debate to proceed to the Senate floor.

And what about the efforts to find a bipartisan agreement? Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who recently said a deal was near, told reporters yesterday that he is "far less optimistic" about reaching a resolution than he was. "I don't think any time in the near future there's going to be a bipartisan agreement," he said.

It's counter-intuitive, but the lack of progress on bipartisan talks actually makes legislative progress more likely, not less. Senators like Voinovich, for example, were apparently prepared to allow the filibuster to continue while the behind-the-scenes talks worked towards a deal. Now that a compromise appears increasingly unlikely, some GOP members are more inclined to let the bill advance.

The question, then, is how much longer Voinovich and his like-minded allies will wait before giving up on the talks and allowing the floor debate to begin. The third attempt to break the GOP filibuster will be this afternoon. If it fails, expect a fourth try tomorrow.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (11)

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Let's hope the Dems can peel off just one or two GOP votes, and proceed to get this done w/o having to seek "bipartisan" consensus from the rest of the minority.
We get a better financial reform bill AND the GOP gets egg all over its Wall St-fattened face.

Posted by: slader on April 28, 2010 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans are doing the American people a service. Every day the focus is on financial reform the bill is improved.

Outside of one street in New York City there is little if any support for weakening reform. In fact the public wants more regulation not less. Americans are insisting that the Wall Street casinos be as well regulated as those in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 28, 2010 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Will you bite the hand that feeds you?
Will you stay down on your knees?

- Nine Inch Nails

Posted by: Marko on April 28, 2010 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one who felt the Goldman Sachs hearings yesterday had a lot in common with the Kefauver hearings back in the day. The Greed is Good witnesses looked like mobsters straight out of Guys and Dolls.

By the way, what would you be thinking if you were a Goldman customer and knew that they routinely and knowingly sold their customers "shitty deals."

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 28, 2010 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Only one question: when do we get to rid ourselves of Ben Nelson ?

Posted by: rbe1 on April 28, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Dems need to start publicly asking why GOPers are making proposals that cannot be discussed or debated---because GOPers keep blocking discussion and debate? Why are "teh 41" being allowed to collect paychecks while effectively walking away from their job responsibilities? Why are Americans being forced to pay taxes for "teh 41" to not do their jobs; to obstruct via "taxation without representation?"

Think about it---getting the tea-partiers riled up against the McConnell-ist elites who are in league with the oligarchs, and then turning them loose on Wall Street in a somewhat-revised "Bastille Day" exercise right in the middle of Wall Street. The battle would be "Gloriously Legendary...."

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 28, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

With a population firmly behind financial reform and an entire party utterly unwilling to consider it because their corporate overlords won't allow it, I say let them filibuster all the way to November. Let them bring Congress to a grinding halt over this. And then let's see how many Republicans get (re)elected in the midterms.

Posted by: chrenson on April 28, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

When, they finalize this bill, will they please do as Paul Krugman has asked in his latest column and strengthen the teeth used to go after the credit rating agencies which schmoozed with Wall Street and the banking industry and kept giving AAA ratings to products of which 93% have become junk?

Posted by: berttheclock on April 28, 2010 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

I can't help but think that we'de have a public option if this strategy had been used with the HCR legislation.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 28, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't think any time in the near future there's going to be a bipartisan agreement," [Corker] said.

Spoken like a true partisan.

Posted by: qwerty on April 28, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 28, 2010 at 8:58 AM

Because it's not about ideas, it's about Democrats and Obama (actually, the scary trilogy of Obama, Pelosi and Reid, Oh My!)

The teabaggers are part of the brainwashed masses who have been influenced by Rush, Beck, et al, and believe that everything DemocRAT is wrong and bad and evil.

That is brainwashing, plain and simple. And it would happen to any Dem. Just pay attention to the last 30 years, from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton to Obama. It's just worse now because you have the whole racial thing thrown into the mix.

No, not all of them are racist. But all of them are brainwashed.

Posted by: MsJoanne on April 28, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK
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