Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Daily Strike-4/27/10-Same S#it, Different Day

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. The title has two meanings, just you wait.

FINANCIAL REGULATION: The Senate today took another vote to begin debate on the financial regulation package, and again, Republicans successfully filibustered. Every Republican voted against starting debate on the bill, as did Democrat Ben Nelson, who we found out is simply holding out to win a loophole for his constituent, one Warren Buffet. I guess he didn't learn anything from that whole Cornhusker Kickback thing.

I'm not sure the Republicans will be able to sustain this obstruction. Senator Voinovich (R-OH) said this evening that he's willing to wait a few more days for a bipartisan deal, but that he won't vote to filibuster debate indefinitely. I suspect that a few other Republicans feel the same way. It appears that talks between the leaders of the Banking Committee, Senators Dodd (D-CT) and Shelby (R-AL) have just about collapsed. So the name of the game right now is continuing the public pressure on Republicans, expose their obstruction, and intimidate a couple of them into at least letting the debate begin.

One thing I'll mention is that this effort would be a lot easier if there were vulnerable Republican Senators out there. With the possible exception of Senator Burr (R-NC), no incumbent Republican is realistically going to lose this year. That makes it more difficult to exploit this obstruction in the near term.

While the debate on the floor was at a standstill, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) held hearings examining Goldman Sachs executives. He called them out for misleading investors by selling them assets that they knew were worthless. Emails surfaced in which the assets were called a "s#itty deal" by GS analysts. Levin repeated this line several times on live TV. It was a good chance for a tongue lashing of the financial industry. I highly recommend watching.

THE WHITE HOUSE: President Obama is finally taking his reform pitch on the road. Today, he held a Town Hall event in Iowa. Obama told the audience that the American people "deserve an honest debate." I hope he continues this drumbeat when he makes similar appearances later in the week. At the event, he also gave a general defense of his performance in office, including the state of the economy and healthcare.

THE HOUSE: The House spent the day on suspension bills. Only one of them was remotely interesting. By a vote of 402-15, Congress voted to reject its own pay raise during the next fiscal year. I may be alone on this one, but I happen to think Congress deserves to get paid more. At least they are theoretically adding value to society by doing the people's business. I can tell you for sure that they offer far more societal value than Wall Street traders.

Every no vote came from the Democrats, with 13 of the no votes coming from the Congressional Black Caucus.

That's it for today. We'll be back tomorrow to see if Republicans have caved yet on beginning the financial reform debate.

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