Monday, September 14, 2009

The Daily Strike-9/14/09-On Wall Street

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. The President was in the Big Apple today, and just after I leave! Let's get to the day in politics, and don't be bashful. Leave some comments!

WALL STREET SPEECH: The main event today was the President's speech on financial regulation on Wall Street. The speech came on the one year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The first part of the speech was about what the administration has already done. The President, as he does in almost every speech these days, talked about how the aggressive policies taken by the administration has brought the economy back from the brink. While saying that the economy has returned to normalcy, the President emphasized that normalcy cannot lead to complacency. In a sharply worded, but somewhat subdued speech, the President said that some on Wall Street haven't learned anything from last year's collapse, and are willing to take risks that put the nation's economy jeopardy. His exact words:

"We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses."

He used the speech as an avenue to push his financial reform plan, which we outlined this morning. Whatever the merits of the policy, I think the President is addressing the issue very poorly. Expanding on what I wrote this morning, it was particularly striking that he made the speech in front of a bunch of Wall Street investors, and he wasn't particularly angry or confrontational. After last year's bailout, there was a bevy of populist anger. Corporate America was seemingly thoroughly discredited. The President had an opportunity to harness that energy to promote an activist government, one that protects the people from the excesses of capitalism. Instead, the President is trying to make nice with the financial industry so that they are willing to cooperate with the administration's proposal. In doing so, he's making it easier for critics to build an association between the elites in the financial sector and the elites in the federal government. I think this is the biggest political impediment to the President's agenda right now.

The President's style is to solve problems by bringing together key stakeholders and finding common ground. It remains to be seen whether this strategy will yield good policy, but it is not good politics. I'll have more to say on this in the coming days.

CONGRESS: A quiet Monday, as usual in Congress. The House voted on a few suspension bills today. They'll get to serious legislative business on Wednesday (read the Weekly Strike for details). Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) gave his first speech on the House floor since calling the President a liar last week. He did not apologize. In fact, he used the speech to spew out some frivolous anti-health care talking points. Democratic leaders are expected to bring a resolution to the floor reprimanding Wilson for his outburst. I agree with D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who said that passing the resolution will simply turn Wilson into even more of a martyr. Wilson made himself look idiotic enough; there's no reason to give him any more attention.

The Senate took one vote today, an amendment to the Transportation, House and Urban Development Appropriations. The amendment offered by freshman Republican Mike Johanns sought to prohibit any funding in the bill from directly or indirectly going to GOP bogeyman group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). I think we've seen about 100 different versions of this amendment this year. Most Democrats don't want to stand up for ACORN though, and that's why these amendments will always pass. This particularly version passed 83-7, with only courageous Democrats Burris (IL), Casey (PA), Durbin (IL), Gillibrand (NY), Leahy (VT), Sanders (VT) and Whitehouse (RI) voting no. Work continues on this bill tomorrow.

And finally, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus says he will officially release his health care reform proposal on Wednesday. I'll believe it when I see it.

That's it for tonight. PLEASE leave some comments. See you tomorrow!

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