Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Daily Strike-4/14/10-Financial Regulation Battle

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. The NHL playoffs start tonight, so my mind, quite frankly, is elsewhere. But how could I let you all down?

FINANCIAL REGULATION: The next big legislative battle on Capital Hill is heating up. President Obama met today with leaders from both parties to discuss Financial Regulatory reform, which is due to come to the Senate floor in the next week or so. Senator Dodd (D-CT) has tried to get Republican support for the bill, but his patience has been running out. Republican Senator Bob Corker (TN) had been a willing participant in discussions, and had even contributed to the derivatives regulation in the bill.

But once again, the Republicans realize that they have an electoral stake in seeing this go down in flames. In recent days, Republicans have ramped up their rhetoric against the bill, saying that it represents a "permanent bailout." Apparently flat out lying is an acceptable political strategy these days. President Obama, as he does almost weekly, chastised Republicans for peddling "misinformation."

Yes, the Democrats will need one Republican vote (at least) to get this plan through the Senate. But that does NOT mean they should give in to GOP opposition. This, to put it bluntly, can be a winning issue for the Democratic party. We need to frame this fight as Us vs. Them. The "Us" is the Democrats and the American Middle Class and the "Them" is the Republican Party and Wall Street. It's an easy dichotomy to make when the Republican Party is so obviously doing Wall Street's bidding on this. Democrats in the Senate especially need to follow Obama's lead and accept nothing less than robust regulation of financial derivatives.

As we learned from the health care fight, as soon as Democrats give in, the public begins to think that there must be something inherently bad about the underlying bill. We can't let this dynamic play out again. Preventing another financial collapse is just too important.

THE SENATE: The Senate took some votes today on the bill to temporarily extend unemployment and COBRA insurance. The first amendment, offered by Senator Baucus (D-MT) would have extended the extension (yes I said it) through the end of May. The amendment failed to get the 60 votes needed to waive relevant budget rules. The amendment had the support of 59 Senators (all Democrats plus Voinovich of Ohio), with Patrick Leahy absent. Since Leahy would vote for it, Majority Leader Reid decided to ask to reconsider the vote. Only those who vote on the prevailing side can request reconsideration, so Reid voted against the amendment for procedural reasons. Another vote on that amendment will be held tomorrow.

The Senate rejected, by a vote of 51-46, an amendment from Senator Coburn (R-OK) that calls for the bill to be paid for with unspent stimulus funds. All Republicans supported the amendment, as did Democrats Bayh (IN), Feingold (WI), Klobuchar (MN), Lincoln (AR) and Nelson (NE).

There might be a couple other amendment or procedural votes tonight and tomorrow morning, but I expect the bill to pass by tomorrow evening. Any changes to the bill would require it to return to the House.

THE HOUSE: The House mostly dealt with suspension bills today. The Republicans brought up a question of privilege demanding an investigation into former Rep. Eric Massa. But that story is totally played at this point. House Democrats voted to kill the question.

The House will consider The Clean Estuaries Act tomorrow.

That's it for now, see you tomorrow night! Go Sharks!

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