Monday, May 3, 2010

The Weekly Strike-5/3-5/9

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. I thought this week would be dominated by the fight over financial reform, but a lot of other stories are dominating the news, most notably the oil spill in the gulf coast. Let's get to the week in politics.

THE WHITE HOUSE: Just when the White House wanted to hone in on Wall Street reform, they have been distracted by events beyond their control. The oil spill in the gulf coast is turning into an unmitigated disaster. By the time all is said and done, this could be a bigger spill than the Exxon-Valdez catastrophe in 1989. Some conservatives have tried to suggest that this is Obama's Katrina, which is patently absurd. For one, the lives of millions of Americans aren't under immediate threat. Two, Obama has done a good job coordinating state and local efforts in the gulf region, including close work with potential adversary Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R).

The White House also had to focus this weekend on the failed terror attempt in Times Square. Explosives found in a car failed to detonate. It doesn't look like this will be a major story, mostly because the suspect appears to be a white guy. The double standards in our society are pretty amazing.

The President's schedule is pretty light to start the week. This morning, he hosts a reception at the Naval Academy for winners of the "Commander in Chief" awards. Later this afternoon, he holds a dinner for the Business Council. The schedule for the remainder of the week is in flux, but I expect him to make one or two appearances on the road.

THE SENATE: Now that Republicans have relented in their obstructionism, the Senate can begin debate on Wall Street reform. Votes on amendments will begin tomorrow. Unlike previous legislation where Democrats wanted to fend off inevitable attempts to make the bill worse, this amendment process may offer progressives some opportunities. Anger at Goldman Sachs after their performance at a Senate hearing last week perhaps has given more momentum to proponents of reform. One particular amendment that might come up, offered by Senators Kaufman (DE) and Brown (OH) would break up the big banks and prevent them from becoming "too big to fail." I'm afraid the Obama administration is opposed to this approach, as is Banking Chairman Dodd (CT). The Big Picture may write more about this amendment, but it would be shameful to see it go down in flames. Not only is it good policy, but it would be very good populist politics.

The other key amendment to look out for is a chance to re-enact the Glass-Stegall Act, which separates banks from other financial institutions. The act was overturned by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999. I'm not too confident on this amendment going though, simply because of the influence of lobbyists, but I'll do my best to keep my hopes up.

THE HOUSE: After taking up suspension bills today and tomorrow, the House will take up the so-called "Cash for Caulkers" bill. The bill will give rebates to individuals and businesses for retrofitting for energy efficiency. The bill has one Republican cosponsor, so I expect it to pass very easily. Perhaps the Senate can include the bill as part of its comprehensive energy package that it will take some point.

That's it for now. Leave some comments!

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