After months of wrangling, Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans
(Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, and Olympia Snowe) passed
financial regulatory reform legislation on Thursday night. The House had
passed its own version in December and the two bills must still be
combined in conference committee. But for the time being this is a big
political victory for Democrats, for President Obama, and perhaps for
those who wish to better regulate Wall Street so as to prevent the next
crash. (Thought there is some debate among that last group.) Here are the details
of the bill
. Here's how they passed it.
Deal' With Sen. Scott Brown The Wall Street Journal's Damian Paletta and Greg
Hitt cite "a last-minute deal that won the backing of Sen. Scott
Brown (R., Mass.), who sought to protect the interests of mutual fund
and asset management companies in his state. ... Brown was concerned
that companies such as State Street Corp., Fidelity Investments, and
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., because of the large amount of
assets they manage, could face restrictions similar to the curbs placed
on big Wall Street banks."
- Liberals Had To Make Sacrifices
The Daily Beast's Eric Alterman sees a "thicket
of compromises" in the bill. "Like with health care, liberals left
feeling queasy at best." He cites the watered-down Volcker Rule and the
dropped provision to "let states cap credit-card interest rates and
impose restrictions on rates charged by out-of-state lenders."
yes, we have a pattern here. The Obama team lets Congress take the lead
and there, the lobbyists play their game of tug-of-war with the public
interest. A watered-down rough draft emerges, in which the Republicans,
after long negotiations, decide that, after all, they can’t really
support the thing, much as they would like to in, say, some other
universe. Even so, they get much of what they want simply because a)
Democrats need lobbyists’ cash just as much as Republicans do, and b)
the Obama administration remains desperate to pursue bipartisan
solutions to America’s problems, even though it has long ago lost any
hope of actually achieving them.
- Bipartisan Common Ground
The Guardian's Michael Tomasky notes,
"Four Republicans voted for it, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts,
and it will be interesting to watch the reaction to that vote among the
tea partiers. ... World of ideological make believe, meet world of
Brown and [Democratic Senator Ted] Kaufman,
disappointed though they surely were, mad even, voted for the bill.
Legislation like this is never perfect or even particularly close to
perfect. And it's not the 1930s, when Glass Steagall passed. Conditions,
though plenty bad, aren't anywhere near as catastrophic as they were
then. We got the bill that historical conditions would permit us to get.
The point of politics is to change those conditions. That takes a long
time. This is just a step down that road.
- Why Two Dems Opposed
Passage Time's Jay Newton-Small reports,
"Two Democrats voted against the bill, Russ Feingold and Maria
Cantwell, on the grounds that it did not go far enough in protecting the
consumer. 'The bill does not eliminates the risk to our economy posed
by too big to fail financial firms, nor does it restore the proven
safeguards established after the Great Depression, which separated Main
Street banks from Wall Street firms and are essential to preventing
another meltdown,' Feingold said in a statement after the vote."
Legislative Jujitsu' The American Prospect's Tim Fernholz chronicles, "Particularly at stake was an amendment
from Sam Brownback to exempt auto dealers from consumer regulation and
another amendment proposed by Senators Merkley and Levin to strengthen a
measure already in the bill to limit the kinds of risky business banks
can engage in. While the Merkley-Levin amendment could not be voted on
post-cloture due to a technicality, in a clever bit of legislative
jujitsu, the two attached their amendment to Brownback's as a
second-order amendment, meaning that both would have to be voted on
together to enter the bill. Reformers opposed Brownback and supported
Merkley-Levin, but could at least see stronger restrictions on Wall
Street if Brownback succeeded."
- GOP Just Gave Up The
Atlantic's Dan Indiviglio writes, "The Republicans could have
delayed the final vote for 30 hours after
motion passed on Thursday afternoon, but declined to do so. Without
any hope of derailing the bill, there really would have been no point
in a delay."
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