Can we afford to put bipartisan compromise with these people over actual and effective financial regulation reform? Pardon my cynicism, but it looks like we won't have much of a choice:
Key members of both parties said Wednesday that they are close to agreeing on the main elements of a bill to overhaul the nation's financial regulations, raising the prospect that the Senate could begin formal discussion of the landmark legislation early next week.
"I'm more optimistic than I've ever been," said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), the lead Republican negotiator. "I think we can put a bill together pretty soon." His counterpart in months of talks, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the banking committee, agreed that they were on the cusp of a consensus.
If no last-minute hurdles arise, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) plans to hold a test vote Monday, aides said. If he gets 60 or more votes, he could move ahead with formal debate on the bill, which among other things would create an agency to protect consumers against abuses in mortgages and other loans, set up a council of regulators to watch for risks to the financial system, and give the government power to wind down large, troubled financial firms.
The likely emergence of a bipartisan consensus is a notable departure from the fractious debate over health-care legislation, which passed last month without a single Republican vote. This time, some Republicans say they are looking forward to supporting the financial bill, which arose out of an economic crisis that has left millions of Americans angry and bereft of their jobs, homes and savings.
With both parties eager to claim that they are tackling financial excesses, Republicans have been focusing their objections on specific tenets of the legislation rather than on its overall thrust, allowing for more compromise.
Bob Corker was looking for Chris Dodd. When the Tennessee Republican got him on the phone, he started to get the feeling that financial regulatory reform talks were collapsing after weeks of negotiations.
"You've been a great partner," Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, told Corker, who had been taking a lead role in the talks.
"My little antennae went up," said Corker in response to Dodd's use of the past tense to describe their partnership. On Wednesday afternoon, the pair met privately and Dodd broke the news: He was moving forward with his party on reform, cutting short negotiations with Corker that have been dragging on for roughly a month.
Dodd (D-Conn.) announced on Thursday morning that he will unveil a bill on Monday without GOP support and he intends to bring it to a vote the following week.
And I believe the pressure we've been putting on Dodd not to fold the CFPA into the FED is one of the major reasons he broke off with Corker.
Corker said that the second pressure point for Dodd was that "members on the left were getting nervous" about where the Consumer Financial Protection Agency would be located. Progressive Democrats have been particularly vocal in their opposition to placing the CFPA inside the Federal Reserve and Dodd was beginning to wonder if he had enough Democratic votes, he said.
The same Democrats are also concerned that the CFPA will lack sufficient independence and authority. But, said Corker, Dodd had accepted a GOP proposal to create a board of regulators with veto power over any rules passed by the CFPA. The panel would include the SEC, FDIC, Fed, Treasury and CFTC.
It looks like Queen Snowe will step in and help in the end.
Democrats, however, do not need Corker to pass the bill. Earlier this week, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) told HuffPost that once the bill was out of committee she looked forward to playing a central role in negotiations. She already joined Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in sending a letter to Dodd, calling for tough regulation of derivatives. Dodd's decision to move forward without Republican support in the committee opens the door for Snowe, who's more moderate than Corker and Shelby, to step in.
Corker will probably go on all the shows and do a bipartisan whine for the Villagers to embrace. You know republicans are only watering down the bill as much as possible.
Republicans wanted banking regulators to take the lead in enforcing consumer rules, but Democrats argued that such a system would water down consumer protections
An overwhelming majority of Americans wants Wall Street subjected to tougher regulation in the aftermath of the bank bailout and the bonus scandals that have rocked the U.S. financial sector, according to a Harris poll released on Thursday.The findings suggest that 82 percent of Americans want the government to clamp down more strongly on Wall Street excesses, with a particular emphasis on bonus schemes that have rewarded employees at loss-making companies such as American International Group.
John Harwood said on CNBC that Democrats want to get this done sooner than later and that's why they moved in this direction.
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - Early reports were that a natural gas leak could have caused a devastating explosion Sunday morning that killed two and injured as many as 100 at a power plant being built south of the city on the Connecticut River.
Homeowners more than 10 miles away said the 11 a.m. explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems power plant on River Road created a shock wave so intense they mistakenly thought the central part of the state had experienced an earthquake.
Medical rescue personnel said two were dead at the site and, of 100 so injured, four were in critical condition.
"There are bodies everywhere," a witness said. Another witness said many victims may be buried in rubble.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Wednesday ripped the Senate's "newest members" for the lack of comity in the upper chamber.
In a floor speech Wednesday night, Dodd said there is "nothing wrong" with partisanship, but added he has "been deeply disturbed by some of the [healthcare] debate I have heard, usually from newer members, usually those who have been here one, two, three years, who do not have an appreciation of what this chamber means and how we work together."
Dodd did not name names, and spokesmen for the Connecticut senator did not respond to requests for comment.
[...] During his speech on Wednesday, Dodd repeatedly revisited his disappointment with the newest members of the Senate: "It is always the newest members who fail to understand how the Senate has worked for more than two centuries. We need to get back to that sense of civility once again ... Even though we have had very strong disagreements, I never once in my life in this chamber ever questioned the patriotic intentions of any member ... the idea you challenge another's patriotism, honesty, their integrity, does a great disservice to this institution, in my view."
He later added, "Again, I regret sometimes the newer members who fail to understand the importance of maintaining that which our Founders envisioned when they created this institution."
Yes, Sen. Dodd, the same Founders who were so angry over their treatment by the crown that they started a violent revolution were certainly much more concerned about manners. Tarring and feathering was simply an elaborate social ritual!
Sen. Dodd is upset about this, and rightfully so. It seems that Sen. Al Franken has this upsetting habit of demanding information from Republicans, and even mocking them when they evade him. One of them apparently went whining to Sen. Dodd and asked him to chastise the horrid Franken.
In case you didn't know, rudeness about political ideology that destroyed this country is on a par - nay, far exceeds the misdeeds of those questioned.
Despite the current constitutional crisis, despite the abandonment of every principle that truly made us the land of the free, the Beltway contingent still believes the problem is merely one of etiquette.
But really, who am I to argue? Maybe they have something here. I’m partial to something I once read in a Regency novel (Jane Austen, I believe). When a societal outcast whose behavior was quite beyond the pale was presumptuous enough to present his hand to you in public, the proper response was to extend to him or her only your pinky.
Get it? You’re such a lowlife, you’re not even deserving of a handshake! I spit on your vileness – in the most polite possible way! I fling my pinky at the likes of you!
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this just might work. Think about it: You’re at a Georgetown cocktail party, and Alberto Gonzales is making small talk by the shrimp bowl. “Your name?” he says, extending his hand.
This is the man who’s decimated the Bill of Rights, mind you. What to do? Do you rip off your shirt, revealing a Code Pink T-shirt and embarrassing the rest of the guests with your sheer crassness – or do you extend your pinky? (Oh, I think you already know the answer.)
Say you’re at a speakers panel somewhere and someone invited Donald Rumsfeld. You’re in the receiving line afterward and you’re getting a little weirded out, yes? Well, you have a few options here. Think it through: If you get into a loud shouting match over the seemingly pointless deaths of soldiers and civilians in Iraq, or threw a vial of pig’s blood on his French handmade shirt, what real impact will you have? (Not to mention, it’s terribly déclassé.) Rummy will just tune you out and everyone else will pretend they didn’t hear you.
Ah, but if you extend your pinky, you’ve said it all – in the most genteel way possible.
Yes, while we may eventually live in a nation of radically reduced liberties, a broken economy and a state of perpetual war, we will have the satisfaction of knowing when the going got rough, we didn’t descend to their level.
We did the right thing. We extended our pinkies, thus earning the thanks of a grateful Village.
Or if that doesn't appeal to you, Sen. Dodd, you could always tell your lobbyist friends to go screw them themselves and vote on behalf of the taxpayers... just kidding!
I wonder: Now that Howard Dean's been the first person to say it out loud, will the media lemmings follow? We'll see:
Former DNC Chair Howard Dean called on Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) to resign as chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee if he can't bring himself to oppose a Republican filibuster of health care reform legislation.
Appearing on "The Joe Scarborough Show" on WABC, Dean stressed that he had no problem with Lieberman opposing the bill on its philosophical merits, or lack thereof. But he insisted that it was irresponsible and unprincipled to not allow the legislation to come to an up-or-down vote.
"I think that is a very complicated guy," said Dean. "He does because he says he's a principled guy but there's nothing principled about holding up a bill... If he was a principled guy he'd resign his chairmanship."
"If you are with a caucus you don't owe the leader any vote on any substance," Dean added. "I have no problem with him voting against the public option... You owe it to Harry Reid to allow him to run the Senate. And if you're not willing to do that the proper thing to do is to step aside."
If Senator Tim Johnson ascends to the chairmanship of the Senate Banking Committee, the biggest winners will be Wall Street, pay-day lenders and credit card companies. The biggest losers: widows and orphans.
In late 2006, the South Dakotan spoke out against an effort by his fellow Democrats to cap the interest rates that members of the military pay for short-term loans. "This time it's military. Who's to say it isn't going to be widows and orphans or other sympathetic groups in the future?" he griped in an interview with the American Banker.
That's the man who's next in line to lead the Banking Committee if the current chair, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), as expected, vacates the position to take the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chair left empty by the death of Ted Kennedy.
Meanwhile, Democrats are hoping to push through the most sweeping financial regulations in a generation, including the creation of a government panel that would regulate financial products with an eye toward consumer protection. All of that will have to go through the Banking Committee.
Consumer advocates and backers of a regulation overhaul are deeply concerned that handing the committee to Johnson would be a death sentence for reform.
"He's got a long track record of supporting small predatory loan companies, pay-day loan companies," said one longtime consumer advocate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he would have to work with Johnson as banking chair.
In 2003 and again in 2005, Johnson intervened with federal regulators on behalf of pay-day lenders, sending a letter to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said on Sunday that Vicki Kennedy should be considered to replace her late husband in the Senate.
Hatch, one of Kennedy's closest friends in the Senate, said on CNN's State of the Union that Vicki Kennedy is well-qualified to serve, even if only until a January special election to fill the rest of the term.
"I think Vicki ought to be considered. She's a very brilliant lawyer. She's a very solid individual. She certainly made a difference in Ted's life, let me tell you. And I have nothing but great respect for her," Hatch said on CNN.
Another close friend of Kennedy, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), acknowledged that Vicki Kennedy has not expressed much interest in filling in for her husband, but said he would support her next step.
"Whatever Vicki wants to do, I'm in her corner," Dodd said on State of the Union. "She knows that. And she's expressed to me her own sort of reluctance to [fill in for Kennedy], but she could change her mind. If she did, I'm for it. I think she'd be great."
"She brings talent and ability to it, and to fill that spot I think is something the people of Massachusetts would welcome. We could certainly use her in the Senate," Dodd said. "But I leave that up to her. She's got a lot on her mind right now, and frankly, I'll leave it up to her decision-making process."
Massachusetts lawmakers, spurred by a letter from Kennedy himself, have begun discussing new legislation that would allow Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to appoint a temporary replacement to serve until an election. State law passed when Gov. Mitt Romney (R) was in office took the power to appoint a replacement away from the Republican when Sen. John Kerry (D) appeared in strong position to win the presidency.
Kennedy was reportedly worried that the Democrats would fail in their health care reform push without that 60th vote and wanted to make sure that Patrick could appoint someone before that January special election. You gotta love that about Teddy, optimistic 'til the end that the Dems would find their spines.
PETITION TO THE SENATE: "Ted Kennedy was a courageous champion for health care reform his entire life. In his honor, name the reform bill that passed Kennedy's health committee 'The Kennedy Bill' -- then pass it, and nothing less, through the Senate."
Sign it, it's getting passed on to the Senate today as they come back from recess.