Monday, April 26, 2010

Will Wall Street Get Their Money's Worth From McConnell And Their GOP Puppets?


This evening the Republicans are going to have to man-up and take a deep breath and level with the American people. Today the vote none of them want the country to see-- the one that says, basically, "I am with Wall Street" or "I stand with my constituents"-- will come before the Senate for a vote. I can't wait to see how Richard Burr, one of the slimiest cowards in Congress-- and one of the most vulnerable-- handles it. So far McConnell and Shelby have been unable to make the kind of deal that will let their members off easy without making them vote for Wall Street.

Even if all 59 Democrats vote "yes"-- and, yes, even Blanche Lincoln is on board for a change-- and all 41 Republicans-- including Snowe, Collins and Scott "teabagger" Brown-- manage to filibuster financial reform to death, the long term death prospects are for the GOP.
Shelby, the top ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, told George Stephanopoulos that his staff would be meeting with staff from Chairman Chris Dodd's office at 2:00 p.m., leaving little time to cement a bargain. Without an agreement, all 59 members of the Democratic caucus are committed to moving ahead and hoping to peel off at least one Republican.

GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he has 41 votes to block debate. Shelby insisted Monday that was still the case. "I believe we will have the votes this afternoon," said Shelby.

Several Republicans have wavered in recent days, giving Democrats a sense of momentum heading into the vote. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa.) voted last week in the Agriculture Committee to back strong derivatives reform, legislation that Shelby said he could "absolutely" get behind.

"To trade with the idea of highly leveraged positions hoping that the taxpayer will bail them out... that's wrong, it's a mistake, and we're going to end that," said Shelby, arguing that the casino culture must be ended. "If they want to gamble, go to Las Vegas or somewhere."

...Jim Manley, senior communications adviser for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said that Republicans must choose between siding with reform or backing Wall Street. "Today, Republicans face a major choice: Will they stand up for the American people, and join us to hold Wall Street accountable for the reckless gambling that cost 8 million Americans their jobs and millions more their economic livelihood? Or will they follow the marching orders they've been getting at their secret, closed-door meetings with Wall Street executives, and continue to protect Wall Street? We remain eager to work with Republicans who are sincere about reforming Wall Street, and we are hopeful for bipartisan agreement on this important effort," he said. "But there are no two ways about it: a vote against even opening debate on holding Wall Street accountable is a vote to protect Wall Street."

If Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway-- currently running on a very strong reform Wall Street platform-- is elected in November, he will be at loggerheads with Kentucky's other senator, one of teh most disgraceful Wall Street shills in the history of the U.S. Senate. "I think that Kentucky's senior Senator Mitch McConnell should stop defending big banks like Goldman Sachs and join his fellow Republicans in a bipartisan effort to reform Wall Street, because that's what will help Kentucky working families. We need to protect consumers and taxpayers and prevent any institution from ever again becoming 'too big to fail'." That statement from Conway this morning pretty much sums up why he is different not just from McConnell but from the 3 conservatives he's running against for Senate, Daniel Mongiardo, Rand Paul and McConnell's boy Trey Grayson.

This morning I got an e-mail from Lawrence Lessig at Change Congress that explains Senator Brown's "stand" on financial reform. It's even scarier than what you might suppose. Watch the video at the link above.
Scott Brown, Massachusetts' new senator, opposes legislation in Congress that would strengthen regulations for Wall Street.

But when a reporter recently asked him why he's against this bill, Brown couldn't give an answer. He's against financial reform, but he has no idea why.

Let me help Senator Brown: During his campaign last year, Brown received half of his campaign contributions from Wall Street and business executives. He benefited from another million dollars in issue ads by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They oppose the bill, so Senator Brown opposes the bill. It's no wonder Pew recently found that trust in Congress is at its lowest point ever.

Russ Feingold, one of only 8 senators who refused to vote for 1999's catastrophic Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which tore down the firewall between Main Street banks and Wall Street securities firms and insurance companies, says he'll vote to get the debate going-- which is more than the lockstep Republican obstructionists-- but he isn't committing to voting for anything he doesn't feel is in teh best interests of America.
“I will vote to take up the financial regulatory reform bill. Preventing even a debate on this critically important issue is a fantasy for the Wall Street banks that seek to undermine the first serious effort to reform financial regulations since their reckless and irresponsible actions triggered the worst recession our nation has experienced since the Great Depression.
“But while I support opening debate on that measure, I will not support any predetermined amending process, or as one senator described it, a ‘template’ for floor consideration that effectively puts the fix in for some negotiated final product.  Congress’ recent history on regulating the financial sector is not a proud one.  For the last 30 years, Congress has consistently given in to the wishes of Wall Street banks and voted to weaken essential safeguards.  And as has been the case in so many areas, members of both political parties in Washington are to blame.  Legislation that paved the way for the creation of massive Wall Street entities and removed essential protections for our economy-- including the Riegle-Neal Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act-- passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.  Congress needs to get it right this time, and finally enact tough reforms to prevent Wall Street from driving our economy into the ditch again.  I will not vote to end debate on this bill unless and until it meets that goal.”

The fight over Wall Street reform is spilling over into the congressional campaigns too. Charlie Bass is the probable GOP nominee for the New Hampshire House seat Paul Hodes is giving up to run for Senate. He thinks he owns the seat because his daddy was a congressman too. When Bass held the seat, between 1994 and 2006, he was widely known as a classic Wall Street shill (well over half a million dollars in "contributions from the financial sector) and someone very sketchy in the ethics area. (He had taken $14,233 in payoffs from DeLay and even after DeLay was indicted Bass refused to divest himself of the bribes.) Over the weekend Bass called the attempt to reform Wall Street "extremist." His main Democratic opponent, Ann McLane Kuster, came back this morning with an answer: “Congressman Bass might think that it is ‘extremist’ to reform Wall Street, but I think it is common sense,” said Kuster. “The only extremism here is defending a broken system that has allowed the biggest banks to profit while everyone else is left worrying about their job, their retirement, their college savings, and more. We won’t see stable economic growth again until we fix the broken system that got us here, and I am disappointed that Congressman Bass is dragging his heels and trying to preserve the status quo.”

One of the most serious voices inside the Senate for strong and effective reform, Jeff Merkley (D-OR) sent this quote to DWT:
Just prior to the vote today to continue debate on Wall Street reform, Republican leadership wants to continue backroom deals rather than have an open floor debate in front of the American people. With today’s vote, members of Congress will either choose to stand with Main Street or Wall Street. We can stand with Main Street and put some common sense rules of the road in place; or we can stand with Wall Street and continue the bank casinos that took the homes, jobs and savings of the American people. We can stand for bringing accountability to Wall Street and reining in the abuses by the payday lenders, mortgage brokers and credit card companies or we can stand alongside the millions in bonuses and billions in profits for Wall Street. To me, it’s an easy choice. Wall Street reform is needed. Every family and business owner on Main Street knows this. It’s up to us to fight for the American middle class and do what’s right.

UPDATE: Your Intuition Was Right

The Washington Post/ABC News poll just out this morning is clear that the vast majority of Americans agree with Obama and the Democrats that Wall Street must be re-regulated.
About two-thirds of Americans support stricter regulations on the way banks and other financial institutions conduct their business, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Majorities also back two main components of legislation congressional Democrats plan to bring to a vote in the Senate this week: greater federal oversight of consumer loans and a company-paid fund that would cover the costs of dismantling failed firms that put the broader economy at risk... [C]ompared with congressional Republicans, Obama has a clear advantage. A slim majority-- 52 percent-- of all Americans says they trust Obama over the GOP on the issue, while 35 percent favor the Republicans in Congress. Independents prefer Obama 47 to 35 percent, with 16 percent trusting neither side on the issue.

In the poll, most Democrats back each of the three major elements of the reform legislation and most Republicans oppose them, echoing the congressional showdown expected this week.

Roxanne Conlin is running against one of the most insidious obstacles to effective Wall Street reform, Iowa barnacle Chuck Grassley, who has managed to gobble up $2,590,499 in thinly veiled bribes from the Financial Sector since entering Congress in 1891. This morning Roxanne told us that she feels "the Financial Stability Act of 2010 is a step in the right direction, as reforms  are desperately needed.  However, the current bill simply does not go far enough. In America, we have safety systems for many activities like speed limits, no passing zones, and air traffic control. This bill only seems to paint new lines on the road without imposing the type of overall re-regulation that would prevent another financial meltdown.  

"We must reinstitute a modernized version of  the Glass-Steagall Act that will prevent these large institutions from merging traditional banks with investment banks and with insurance companies. We must take steps to prevent institutions from becoming  "too big to fail" and create a fair system for winding down the ones that fail without ever again relying on the taxpayers. We must institute personal responsibility and stop rewarding risk without accountability for the risk takers when they lose. The whole system of compensation needs to be revamped and incorporate ordinary notions of fairness.  In addition, we must encourage prosecution of those deceitful individuals who perpetrated fraud and celebrated as our economy collapsed, killing jobs and robbing citizens of trillions of dollars of assets and costing taxpayers billions of dollars in bailouts." 

UPDATE: The GOP Just Voted In Lockstep Against Even Beginning The Debate On Reform

In the most blatant combination of obstructionism, toadyism towards Wall Street and disdain for the American public, every single Republican in the Senate just voted against allowing a debate to proceed to even discuss the kind of financial reform needed to prevent another economic collapse that the GOP seems to specialize in. Ben Nelson, a Republican disguised as a Democrat, voted with his GOP buddies today. The final vote to cut off the Republican filibuster failed 57-41. Sixty votes were needed (Nelson plus one Republican plus Harry Reid who had to switch "no" so he can bring it up again). There's some speculation that Nelson was drunk again when he voted, having told CNN that he's worried "this legislation will adversely impact Main Street when the focus needs to be on Wall Street. ... I don't think everyone is aware of the unintended consequences."

President Obama just weighed in:
“I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted in a block against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these Senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether. But the American people can’t afford that. A lack of consumer protections and a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly brought our economy to its knees, and helped cause the pain that has left millions of Americans without jobs and without homes. The reform that both parties have been working on for a year would prevent a crisis like this from happening again, and I urge the Senate to get back to work and put the interests of the country ahead of party.”

I liked what North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said even more. “Richard Burr could have taken these people on. Instead, he took their money. We used to call that ‘on the take.’ You would think he would at least be ashamed.”

Elaine is running against Burr for the Senate seat he's occupying. Last week, he attended a GOP fundraiser thrown by the lobbyists for many of the sleaziest and most contemptible Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs. This weekend, emails disclosed that Goldman Sachs, which is facing charges of fraud, made huge profits betting against the housing market. Burr has taken $10,000 from the firm's political action committee and immense sums from Goldman Sachs executives who have counted on him to protect their interests even when it conflicts with his own constituents' interests-- as they often do.

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At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

Brown seems to have forgotten that he doesn't have 6 years to go before his seat's up, and that he ran as a moderate. I wonder how his chances will look in 2 years in a progressive state whose citizens actually pay attention to such niggling details as how their representatives vote?

Good luck making that WS money hand you the next election, pal.


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