The Senate on Thursday rejected an effort to stave off home foreclosures by a vote of 51 to 45. It was an overwhelming defeat, with the bill's backers falling 15 votes short -- a quarter of the Democratic caucus -- of the 60 needed to cut off debate and move to a final vote.
The death of the bankruptcy reform measure -- which would have allowed a small number of homeowners who met strict conditions to renegotiate mortgages under bankruptcy protection -- is a major tactical win for the banking industry. But allowing the foreclosure crisis to continue unabated may end up being a failed strategy for the financial sector.
It wasn't easy for Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who led the effort on behalf of homeowners, to wrangle the 45 votes.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who had been on the fence for weeks, gave Durbin his support and nudged him on the way out of the chamber, alerting him of the anti-bank position he'd just taken.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a conservative Democrat, also cast a courageous vote in favor of the measure. He gave Durbin a hard slap on the arm on the way out.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a strong backer of the bill, spent a good deal of time trying to persuade his colleague Jim Webb (D-Va.).
As she got close to convincing him, she called in Durbin. "Hey Durbs," she could be heard saying, "help me with Jim."
I wonder how our newest Democrat voted? Why, Sen. Specter voted nay! In other words, it's perfectly okay to help the wealthy hang onto their vacation homes, boats and cars (because they're allowed the use of the same bankruptcy procedure for which Congress just deemed You the People unworthy). Other nominal Democrats who agreed that you didn't deserve that kind of help included many of the usual suspects: Baucus, Bennet, Byrd, Carper, Dorgan, Johnson, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson (NE), Pryor, and Tester.
Let's give props to Bayh and Warner, who did vote with the majority of the Dems - for a change.
Arianna Huffington is having a WTF? moment:
As for credit card reform, the House's resounding 357-70 passage of Carolyn Maloney's Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights would seem like a rare defeat for the banking lobbyists who furiously opposed it. But a number of elements of the legislation demonstrate that even when the bankers lose, they still win. For instance, despite the desperate urgency of the situation, all but one of the consumer-friendly provisions of the bill won't take effect for a year. And the bill doesn't contain any cap on credit card interest rates -- an amendment to cap rates at 18 percent never got any traction. And, of course, the bankers will get another crack at derailing credit card reform when the Senate takes up its version of the bill, sponsored by Chris Dodd, later this month.
So no matter how badly the banking industry fails and how much its failures cost us, it continues to be Washington's 800 lb gorilla -- and the greatest risk to Barack Obama's presidency.
And finally, David Sirota has two questions. Someone in the corporate media should ask them - that is, if anyone still values their integrity.