Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Daily Strike-5/20/10-Senate Passes Wall Street Reform

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. Lots of news to get to today, and yes, I promise I'll talk about crazy Rand Paul.

FINANCIAL REFORM: President Obama is on the verge of another major policy accomplishment. This evening, the Senate passed by a vote of 59-39 a relatively strong Wall Street reform bill. A conference with the House is expected to take place in the next few weeks, and insiders say that Obama should get a bill to his desk by July 4th.

The most important vote, to cut off debate on the bill, took place this afternoon. After yesterday's vote, Senator Reid was two votes shy of invoking cloture. Senator Specter was absent, so his presence today brought leaders one step closer. The final vote came from a most unlikely source: new Republican Senator Scott Brown (MA). Brown had previously indicated to Reid that he would support cutting off debate, but then he voted against the Majority Leader at the last second. Brown's concerns were apparently assuaged before today's vote. Just like yesterday, two liberal Democrats voted against cloture: Senators Feingold (WI) and Cantwell (WA).

Unlike previous legislation, this bill has gotten stronger through the amendment process. I'm not happy that it doesn't have a consumer protection agency independent of the Federal Reserve. I also am unhappy that it won't include the most ambitious amendments, like the Volcker rule (Merkley-Levin hasn't yet come up for a vote) or a full reinstatement of Glass-Stegall restrictions. But like other pieces of legislation passed during the Obama presidency, it marks a giant step forward in reigning in the excesses of the financial industry, when all government has done in the past 30 years is propagate those excesses. Perhaps what makes me most pleased is that, for once, lobbyists for the financial industry are not happy. Their unhappiness brings me immense joy.

As with most pieces of legislation these days, I expect the final package to look a lot more like what the Senate just passed than what the House approved last December. That means, for instance, no independent Consumer Protection Agency, but stronger regulation of derivatives.

The Senate will now move on to consider an emergency bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama had promised that he would include money for the wars in his regular budget, but that didn't happen, so this money still gets the "emergency" designation. As a result, the spending is not paid for. This should cause a problem with fiscal hawks like Senator Coburn (R-OK), who is planning to filibuster the bill. I also expect some opposition from the anti-war left (Senator Feingold, I'm sure). I expect the bill to pass some time next week with 65-70 votes.

RAND PAUL: Rand Paul, son of libertarian icon Ron Paul and Kentucky GOP Senate nominee, has gotten himself into some serious trouble. He has said to several sources, including MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, that he does not support the part of the Civil Rights Act that bans discrimination in private businesses. It may be morally reprehensible to segregate lunch counters, Paul argues, but it shouldn't be illegal, because the government shouldn't decide what private businesses can or can't do.

A lot of people have reacted to this article by saying that Paul is not racist, he's just an ideologically rigid libertarian. I'm not sure the latter is better than the former. If you are so rigid in your ideology that you think it's ok to turn blacks away from businesses, you are morally reprehensible, period. The best piece on saw on this today was from Adam Serwer at The Americna Prospect. Paul is living in this libertarian fantasy world, where racism will magically be solved through market forces. Rand Paul will stop shopping at racist places, so they'll have to let blacks in, right? That's an interesting theory, but unfortunately it's contradicted by American history. As Serwer said, it didn't work, and it won't work.

I also think Democrats should take Paul's assertion to their logical extensions. Does he believe businesses should be able to employ child labor? Does he believe in workplace safety laws? Does he believe you should be able to be fired for any reason? I hope Democrats take this opportunity to expose once and for all the idiocy of economic libertarianism.

That's it for today. I'm moving this weekend, so I'll see you from Baltimore next week!

No comments:

Post a Comment