Focus On This: Merkley-Levin Did Not Get A Vote

By Simon Johnson

After 9 months of hard fighting, yesterday financial reform came down to this: an amendment, proposed by Senators Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin that would have forced big banks to get rid of their speculative proprietary trading activities (i.e., a relatively strong version of the Volcker Rule.) 

The amendment had picked up a great deal of support in recent weeks, partly because of unflagging support from Paul Volcker and partly because of the broader debate around the Brown-Kaufman amendment (which would have forced the biggest 6 banks to become smaller).  Brown-Kaufman failed, 33-61, but it demonstrated that a growing number of senators were willing to confront the power of our biggest and worst banks.

Yet, at the end of the day, the Merkley-Levin amendment did not even get a vote.  Why?

Partly this was because of procedural maneuvers.  Merkley-Levin could only get a vote if another amendment, proposed by Senator Brownback (on exempting auto dealers from new consumer protection rules) got a vote.  Late yesterday afternoon, Senator Brownback was persuaded, presumably by his Republican colleagues and by financial lobbyists, to withdraw his amendment.

Of course, Merkley-Levin was only in this awkward position because of an earlier lack of wholehearted support from the Democratic leadership – and from the White House.  Again, the long reach of Wall Street was at work.

But the important point here is quite different.  If Merkley-Levin did not have the votes, it was in the interest of the megabanks to have it come to the floor and be defeated.  That would have been a clear victory for the status quo. 

But Merkley-Levin had momentum and could potentially have passed – reflecting a big change of opinion within the Senate (and more broadly around the country).  The big banks were forced into overdrive to stop it.

The Volcker Rule, in its weaker Dodd bill form (“do a study and think about implementing”), perhaps will survive the upcoming House-Senate conference – although, because this process likely will not be televised, all kinds of bad things may happen behind closed doors.  Regulators may also take the Volcker Rule more seriously – but the most probable outcome is that the Fed and other officials will get a great deal of discretion regarding how to implement the principles, and they will completely fudge the issue.

Most importantly, everyone who wants to rein in the largest banks now has a much clearer idea of what to push for, what to campaign on, and for what purpose to raise money.  This is the completely reasonable and responsible ask:

  1. The Volcker Rule, as specifically proposed in the Merkley-Levin amendment
  2. Constraints on the size and leverage of our largest banks, as proposed by the Brown-Kaufman amendment

When the mainstream consensus shifts in favor of these measures, or their functional equivalents, we will have finally begun the long process of reining in the dangerous economic and political power of our largest banks.

66 responses to “Focus On This: Merkley-Levin Did Not Get A Vote

  1. I wonder if without campaign finance reform we can begin the “long process?”

  2. Another example of how change doesn’t exactly happen overnight (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_empire)

  3. Lady in Red

    Thank you for the guidance, direction. I will do it.

  4. Incomplete and unfinished are the kindest words for it. I’m not purchasing and I won’t recommend any of my friends or family to purchase individual stocks as long as Merkley-Levin is not enacted and enforced. It’s a simple as that. If others enjoy watching Goldman Sachs and other investment banks suck up the economy with fees, commissions, and stealing profits from individual investors on bid and asked spreads–well they can enjoy it. And I’m not paying for speculators’ swaps and derivatives with no capital to cover them for default.

    I don’t come back for more after getting B_tch slapped by Blankfein and friends. If I wanted to lose money like some special ed. donkey I could just as easily try the slot machines or the race track.

  5. I found this link at Jesse’scrossroadscafe blog. Pretty apropos

  6. Actions over words.

    It is definitely time for others, besides Simon, to begin calling out the President on this issue.

    To this point he has chosen to lock arms with Larry Summers and Jamie D. There are very few explanations for this course other than the obvious….it’s his true nature.

    To date the Obama White House has presented the facade of ‘Apparent Hope, and Apparent Change’. Not quite the image that we bought in 2008 but oh well, maybe we can shame him into following through on his promises. So far our view of the image is only available after having passed through a house-of-mirrors.

  7. On the amendment from FT — different view

    “The amendment from Jeff Merkley, the Democratic senator from Oregon, and Carl Levin, the Democrat from Michigan, had been attached to a Republican amendment which the Republicans withdrew.

    However, the Senate passed a motion instructing the language to be included during the conference process during which its bill will be merged with the House version, leaving an open question as to whether the amendment will be made law.”

  8. Just to add a little more context — Merkley-Levin would have passed had it gotten a vote. Based on the pre-vote maneuverings over the past week, it appears that Merkley believed they have at least 62 votes in favor. However, Republicans realized that they’d passed most of the weakening amendments and had no reason to let any new strengthening amendments get a vote. So Richard Shelby objected to Merkley Levin, blocking it from getting a vote. (When I called his office, they denied blocking “anything”, and gave me the voicemail of his press secretary.) The Democratic leadership decided it wasn’t enough of a priority to waste time fighting Republicans over, since they have a benefits bill, immigration, and energy they want to tackle, so they let it die.

  9. Do you have a link to that FT article?

  10. If the measure has that much support, then isn’t it possible to bring it up again? Is one Bill the end of the process? It may seem that way because of legislative exhaustion, but the reality is that the Congress can pass more laws, and the executive ‘could’ use it’s power as well. The fight is NOT over.

  11. The bill as it stands on the important points is a failure. Too big to fail, a failure. Derivatives, a failure. This was the result of a long and expensive campaign, led by the wealthy elite and the Wall Street banks, to lobby the Congress and dupe the people to energize their frauds. As such, it shows premeditation and deliberate intent, the organized corruption of one of the most connected of all global resources, the US financial system and control of the international monetary reserves.

    It became so outrageous that the US had to intervene during its banking crisis that triggered this global financial crisis, and selectively enforce the law to protect its banks from each other and the packs of unregulated hedge funds led by Goldman Sachs. Now the EU follows suit.

    The American tax payer should be outraged and rightly so. Come November, vote the bums out.

  12. The oval office response to key elements of this bill were tepid at best. Obama knows where his bread is buttered and will surely end up as a one term wonder.

  13. Again, what we learn from 66 years of history in banking [1933-1999] is, sadly, that we just don’t learn much from history when it is now so easy to understand the folly of repealing Glass-Steagall and other economic rational regulations.

  14. Kliment Voroshilov

    “When the mainstream consensus shifts in favor of these measures, or their functional equivalents, we will have finally begun the long process of reining in the dangerous economic and political power of our largest banks.”

    Vintage Johnson, passively relying upon some “mainstream consensus” to shift things in the right direction. What’s next, we “nigras” calling the Washington plantation house and pleading, “yowsa, we show would be grateful if massa would fix them banks, oh yessuh.” Does it ever occur to anyone here that nothing short of massive demonstrations will ever fix what’s wrong here and when it is fixed properly it won’t involve some half measure like restricting bank size. The banks will be nationalized and their criminal managements and political butt-boys tried publically. The people will be satisfied with nothing less.

  15. Let’s face it, by the time the bill comes out of conference the bank lobby will have completed the process of emasculating and remaining elements of reform.

  16. Better yet. Cause an article V to be called. Dissolve the government and start over.

  17. My reaction to “Come November, vote the bums out.”. . . .what, you think there are better choices waiting in the wings? Wish it were otherwise, but I really don’t think so….

  18. Now, that is a statement of reality one can embrace emotionally. When will the sheep stand up to the wolves?

    God knows we can’t elect a shepherd!

  19. Lady in Red

    My right eye is twitching nervously, again. …L in R

  20. Kliment Voroshilov

    I’m in favor of starting all over, Barbara, would like to see a second constitutional convention, actually. The present structures have been so corrupted by these weasels, and our parliamentary devices so compromised, that anything less that a root and branch cleaning will avail nothing. The ruling class is conducting a war on the citizens of this country and stealing us blind. And elections, calls to the White House and congressional commissions are the material of farce.

  21. Barbara

    if the UK experience is anything to go by then expect no changes.

    everyone there thought that MP’s who had cheated on their expenses (buying duck islands, gazebos, cleaning the moat) would lose their seat or at least get a reduced majority. NO! the turkeys voted for christmas in bigger numbers.

  22. ‘Does it ever occur to anyone here that nothing short of massive demonstrations will ever fix what’s wrong…’

    What about a peaceful demonstration summertime 2010 in NYC, Washington DC and London, or all major cities in the US and Europe? Why not? The weather should be o.k.

    I was living in London during the protest against the Irak War. Massive turn-out, very, very impressive!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_15,_2003_anti-war_protest

    Please, don’t take yourself to serious, intellectuals included!

  23. Patrice Ayme

    One term would give one more reason to be nice to banks. Thus an infernal, plutocratic loop…

  24. kliment – you make a clear and concise case but too few care and none have the courage to man the barricades.

    greece, thailand, france have all hit the streets recently. but the anglo countries appear to contain satisfied electorates.

  25. Winston Smith

    The American people are hungry for change. Obama needs to stop lip syncing change and give them real change. This Milli Vanilli stuff where he stands before the podium and pretends to deliver change has to stop.

  26. The NYTimes reported that Obama intends to be actively involved in reconciliation. I think that the final bill will almost certainly be weakened if Obama doesn’t take a forceful stand.

    The NYTimes has also published a description of the various parts of the bill and the differences between the House and Senate versions.

    This is a work in progress people. Obama needs to know, now more than ever, that the people of the United States are watching and care deeply about getting this right.

    Examples of important reconciliations include:

    1. Closing derivative loopholes.
    2. Including the Senate’s changes to how Rating Agencies are chosen by investment banks.
    3. Include some version of the Volcker Rule: Add in Merley-Levin to the extent that is possible
    4. Making the Consumer Protection Agency independent of the Fed (the Senate makes it part of the Fed – but the Fed is clearly conflicted)
    5. Fed audits (House version)
    6. Risk retention (Senate version)
    7. Executive clawbacks (Senate version)
    And many more…

  27. Patrice Ayme

    First the intellectuals have to understand the problem, then appraise the masses, then the masses can get angry the right way.

    With all due respect to Simon, the real problem is not TBTF. It is a problem, but not the biggest. For example there is no lending to the real economy (even in Europe). The banks do not care about their fiduciary duty, which ought to be serving as a conduit between savers and the real economy.

    To force them back, derivatives of the non insurance type ought to be basically forbidden, and also shadow banking. The argument that it could go overseas is vacuous, because once outlawed by the EU and USA, shadow banking is not going to China (where national banks do as told by the government which is obsessed by development, lest the revolution come).

    PA

    http://patriceayme.wordpress.com/

  28. Kliment Voroshilov

    “… but the anglo countries appear to contain satisfied electorates.”

    For now, perhaps, friend bgreen.

  29. Oops… this was my post.

    Also: someone above wrote about demonstrations. This is the time!

    I am skeptical about where Obama stands but we have to do our part to keep the pressure on and give him every reason to make the bill as strong as it can be.

  30. Kliment Voroshilov

    These things come, they are not manufactured, friend g.h.kirsh.

  31. Sad to say it, but most modern presidents are nothing more than shills for the military / industrial / banking complex. Corporations rule along with the fact that they are quite happy to let the masses clean up after them. We as a society have to be one of the dumbest ever and equally apathetic while having our pockets picked. If not an article V a military overthrow would work just as well.The majority of the American people are out to lunch on these issues as I just don’t sense enough anger for either marches on Washington or NY or general strikes. The sheep will continue being led to the slaughter while receiving their daily doses of valium so as to keep them pliable and off balance with other wedge issues of the day.

  32. Barbara, I don’t think its as bleak as that. Politicians are (rightfully) concerned about the anger that is out there and causing incumbents to lose.

    Yes, many are out to lunch, but they are still discontent and there is a large number of people that do make an effort to understand a bit of what is going on, reading blogs, etc. They may not be willing to demonstrate, but they do influence opinions by talking with their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. That that is how, today, elections are won and lost.

    I just think that everyone should not stop paying attention or pushing for a strong bill just because the House and Senate have voted on their versions. Reconciliation is going to determine if this bill is OK or terribly weak.

  33. I’m not holding my breath Jackrabbit and can derive more fun in watching molasses run in January.

  34. I just called my congressman (Charlie Wilson), one of my Senators (Voinovich), and emailed the President, and asked that they all work to incorporate the Merkley-Levin and Brown-Kaufman amendments into the bill while in conference.
    Obama needs to twist as many arms as he can to get this bill fixed, or our economy will stay rigged against the American people.

    Call your congressman today:, before it’s too late:

    http://www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/

  35. Is there a version of the Volker rule in the house bill?

  36. According to the NYTimes chart that I linked to above, the House version doesn’t include the Volcker Rule. The Senate version does.

    This is, again, an example of how crucial reconciliation will be. The final bill could have the Volcker Rule or not, or something in between. You know what the industry will be pushing for.

  37. Military overthrow in the US? I prefer an article V.

  38. Jackrabbit

    When the mainstream consensus shifts in favor of these measures . . .

    I think we’re already there. The problem is that the politicians are JUST realizing that but are still overly influenced by their cozy and lucrative relationships with the banks. Thats why many of them have to go this fall.

    – also –

    We should applaud the Congress people that have stood against the banks and for REAL reform: Maria Cantwell, Russ Feingold, Levin, Merkley, and more (sorry I don’t have all the banes. Quite a few Senators and Representatives are on the side of real, strong reform and adding to their numbers in the fall will make a real difference

  39. C’mon, Simon/James! Where do you come out overall on the bill the Senate passed yesterday? What absolutely has to be done (if anything) in conference for the bill to make you happy (or happier), as the case may be?

    For my sake, and certainly as a non-expert, it seems that the Senate bill may just make it across the line to ok-ness on some issues…maybe. Not the massive regulatory reform the Administration might claim, but not an utter joke of capitulation, either.

    But what say you? Agree? Disagree? Please advise.

  40. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    from The U.S. Declaration of Independence

  41. William Neil

    I have a question for Simon or Jame K., or any other responder that wants to take a stab at it: the world’s chaotic and mostly free-floating currency markets trigger not only legitimate “hedging,” but lots of purely speculative trading with currency swaps, often wrapped into or around other derivative instruments/inventions. As Frank Partnoy described one in his book FIASCO, they will often be desguised as “customized.” Did the Senate bill do much or anything to close the loop-hole which I highlighted in the following excerpt from my essay “Austerity, Courtesy of the Best Men.”

    “Among the many fascinating derivative “inventions” Mr. Partnoy describes, one in particular caught our attention, not only because it resonates with the GS hearings, but also because it raises questions about the depth and effectiveness of the financial reforms currently on the table. He was talking about PERLS, or Principal Exchange Rate Linked Security, “which look like bonds…an extremely odd type of bond, however, because they behave like leveraged bets on foreign exchange rates.” Please take note who is playing with this new invention: “They are issued by reputable companies (DuPont, General Electric Credit) and US government agencies (Fannie Mae, Sallie Mae), but instead of promising to repay the investor’s principle at maturity, the issuers promise to repay the principal amount multiplied by some formula liked to various foreign currencies.” These then, are an example of the “custom-designed bonds” that many companies don’t want to be regulated – in 2010. But these old 1990’s inventions have a hidden risk: “…if the foreign currency rates went the wrong way…you could lose every penny…”

    And how would Morgan Stanley make out by selling these products with a big potential surprise? “The firm would profit regardless of what happened to the various rates because it would hedge its foreign exchange risks in separate transactions with other banks. At the same time the firm would charge the investors millions of dollars in fees.” And here’s how Partnoy summarizes the appeal, the hidden risk, and the speculative game that eerily echoes the mortgage backed derivatives of our 2006-2009 “fiasco:”

    Although PERLS looked like bonds issued by a AAA-rated federal agency or company, they actually were an option-like bet on Japanese yen, German marks, and Swiss or French francs. Because of this appearance, PERLS were especially attractive to devious managers at insurance companies, many of whom wanted to place foreign currency bets without the knowledge of the regulators or their bosses. PERLS were designed to allow such cheater managers to gamble in the volatile foreign exchange futures and options markets. (FIASCO, Page 57.)

    When you read about transactions like this, you can begin to understand why someone like Nomi Prins is, today, so worried that the current reforms are not dealing with the realities of hedge funds, venture-capital and private equity firms, which she gives pen to in an article called “Shadow Banking,” at http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=shadow_banking >”

  42. that’s it – those evil Republicans killed it. If people keep making excuses for Dodd & Obama’s actions on behalf of Wall Street, then we will never make any progress. Dems control Congress. Any failings of the bill are theirs.

  43. The 3rd Party, the Corporate Party, the Party that most in Congress actually belong to, they are the ones that killed it.

  44. I should ad that Obama is apparently a member of the Corporate Party as well.

  45. I agree with the points made by Kliment Voroshilov. The folks in control at the top of the pyramid don’t care what “we the people” think. They’ll do whatever they want regardless of the people’s opinion, and they’ll ignore laws if necessary (remember the original NO bailout vote that they quickly “corrected” to YES?; remember GM’s bondholders?).
    For us to declare that Big Banking should be regulated is akin to Aesop’s Mice in Council declaring that the Cat should wear a bell. And to further discuss details of regulation is akin to the Mice discussing the specific size, shape, tone, and volume of the bell. The Mice can’t forcibly bell the Cat, and the Cat won’t agree to wear a bell, so there’s no point in talking about it except perhaps as a form of entertainment or mental exercise. Next time you write to your representatives, maybe include a check for 10 or 20K in an attempt to buy their vote. But remember, you’ll be bidding against lobbyists giving hundreds of thousands, so don’t get your hopes up.
    If we Mice were serious about trying to influence the Cat’s behavior, we would organize strikes and fill the streets in protests all over the country. But apparently we’re not even close to becoming serious. The majority of Americans today are blissful entertainment addicts who spend most of their leisure time strung out on computers and television. We would much rather play games on Facebook and watch “reality” shows on TV than try to deal with the real world outside our cozy livingrooms.
    However, an extended power outage would certainly rouse us from our dreamlike state. Imagine: no electricity to run lights, appliances, and motors for our furnaces/air conditioners & water pumps, and after a few days, no more gasoline/diesel fuel for portable generators or for trucks to bring food & water and other necessities. I wish it weren’t the case but I’m afraid it’s going to take some drastic event (such as a lengthy blackout) to get our full attention.

  46. Here’s the actual unanimous consent agreement that EVERY SENATOR (Levin & Merkley include) okayed Thursday evening, allowing the bill to get to final passage that night without further amendment (the FT apparently misinterpreted part of this language, and may not realize that conference instructions are non-binding, although ignoring them might lead later to a Republican filibuster of the conference report):

    Mr. REID. Mr. President, on behalf of the Republican leader, and I and the managers of the bill and a number of others who worked long and hard on this consent agreement, I now ask unanimous consent that all postcloture time be yielded back; except for 5 minutes for the Republican leader or his designee to raise a budget point of order against the Dodd-Lincoln substitute amendment No. 3739; Senator Dodd or his designee be recognized to waive the applicable point of order; that the Senate then vote on the motion to waive the budget point of order without further intervening action or debate; that if the waiver is successful [which it was, with Cantwell's help, though it required 60 votes], then all pending amendments be withdrawn; the [Dodd/Lincoln main] substitute amendment, as amended, be agreed to; the bill, as amended, be read a third time; and the Banking Committee then be discharged of H.R. 4173, the House companion; that the Senate then proceed to its consideration; that the text of the Senate bill, as read a third time, be inserted in lieu thereof, the bill be advanced to a third reading and the Senate then proceed to vote on passage of the bill; that upon passage, the Senate insist on its amendments, request a conference with the House on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses; further, that on Monday, May 24 [at about 5 p.m.], it be in order for Senator Brownback to be recognized for a period not to exceed 10 minutes, and Senator Dodd for the same period; prior to Senator Brownback offering a motion to instruct the conferees with respect to H.R. 4173 on the subject of auto dealers; that after the motion is made, the Senate then proceed to vote on the [non-binding] motion to instruct; upon disposition of the motion to instruct, Senator Hutchison or her designee be recognized for a period of up to 10 minutes to make a motion to instruct with respect to proprietary trading, and Senator Dodd also be recognized for the same period of time; that upon the use or yielding back of the time, the Senate then proceed to vote on the Hutchison motion to instruct; that upon disposition of the above-referenced motions to instruct, no further motions be in order, and that the Chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the Senate with a ratio of 7-5; that the Senate bill then be returned to the Calendar; provided further that if the waiver is not agreed to [it was], then this agreement be null and void; and the cloture motion on the bill be withdrawn; provided further, no amendments or motions be in order to the motion to instruct; and the title amendment, which is at the desk, be agreed to.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.”

    http://thomas.loc.gov/r111/r111.html

  47. It’s nice to be hopeful, although it puzzles me that some people believe Merkley-Levin could have won.It couldn’t even get put to a vote, how could it possibly have won? The same cast of bought and paid for characters who voted against Brown-Kaufman would have annihilated Merkly-Levin too, sad to say.

  48. Bayard Waterbury

    To me, the very fact that any proposed amendment to any bill does not get any vote is simply a legislative travesty, regardless of reasons or circumstances, or even the potential validity or lack thereof. This just is further proof of the fact that we no longer live in an actual democracy, but in something else, where the oligarchs/plutocrats find a way, either by procedure, obfuscation, fraud, or otherwise, to defeat any forces arrayed against them. Simple, effective, Machiavellian rule.

  49. I agree with everything you said.

  50. CBS from the West

    The word you’re looking for is kleptocracy.

  51. Why does the Administration appoint people such as Larry Summers, a recycled bit of trash from the Clinton Administration, and not consult with people such as Simon Johnson, Nouriel Roubini, and others?

  52. The protests, however massive, didn’t stop the war, did it? Another way is needed.

  53. there seems to be much confusion in the media, including NPR and PPBS, that the Merkley-Levin restrictions on proprietary trading remain in the Senate bill.

  54. Re: @ Lady in Red_____I can’t stop laughing. My morning cup of tea is squirting out my nose. You made my day. Laughter,…..oh laughter,thou shelters my reality?

  55. Thanks. Nothing like reading/seeing…not the “spin” (“Cantwell is such a champion of real reform” “Kaufmann is so brave, so honest, so trustworthy” yada yada yada)…but the real thing.
    P.S. Amazing even something as simple and straightforward as a unanimous consent move…we get “backroom deal specials” attached. Yep, the wheeling and dealing never stops, does it?
    P.P.S. For those who still think Kaufman is beyond the reach of the big boys on Wall Street: He voted against an amendment that would have allowed individual states to cap interest rates on credit card lenders (so that c.c. companies based in Delaware, for example, would have been required to follow interest rate laws in the states their customers are living in, rather than Delaware’s law which allows rates to be set at sky-high “limits” or, as Sheldon Whitehouse stated, “It’s the proverbial race to the bottom [of the barrel].”

    http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20100520/NEWS02/5200348/Senate-preserves-unlimited-card-rates

  56. Bingo.

  57. Uhhh…so, can ya tell me how those massive protests changed one iota of policymaking? Just a friendly reminder: The U.S. oligarchs:
    1. Decided to instigate war anyway;
    2. Have continued to instigate seven years and almost a trillion bucks later.
    Translate: They completely IGNORED the demonstrations. (As they ignore emails, phone calls, rallies, etc.)

  58. Why did the president not lift a finger to support this amendment? Was not this his idea on 1-21-10?

  59. Has anyone else made the call?

    Why are not Simon, Huffpo, etc. calling for readers to call their congressman as well? NOW is the time for us to make a difference, before the law is submitted for a final vote.

  60. Kliment Voroshilov

    These were not the kind of “massive protests” I had in mind, friend td. First of all, the war protests of a few years ago weren’t massive. They were child’s play in the scheme of things. Second, they were contrived. The kind of protest I would envision will be motivated by very high levels of unemployment over a long period of time and will be entirely spontaneous. It will appear suddenly as if out of a mist. Given enough despair, enough frustration, people will assemble to address their tormentors. The historical examples are legion, of course. But it is this kind of “peoples’ moment” that will be required to bring authentic change. It will have little to do with the clownish Tea Party protests that have been pre-empted by ruling class operatives like Palin and others of that clique.

  61. Kliment Voroshilov

    Consider my comment just above to friend, td, if you will, friend Barbyrah, and ask yourself if anyone ignored the Solidarity protests in Poland in the early nineteen eighties.

  62. Not surprising, considering that we have a national media that does its best to ignore Congress at all times, in all ways, whenever possible, while repeating the latest whisper from the President every hour on the hour (and half hour), for hours at a time…

    The Merkley-Levin amendment was the pending amendment in front of the Senate when that unanimous consent agreement was adopted Thursday (it was attached to the Brownback amendment, which would have been second in line for a vote). So Merkley-Levin never passed the Senate in the first place, and then both of its primary authors [and every other obedient little Democrat in Harry Reid's child-like caucus] agreed to have it withdrawn so it wouldn’t get a vote, without objection, and apparently without even privately demanding the same opportunity for a vote on a conference instruction as the authors of other withdrawn amendments did (Brownback and Hutchison, that is).

    I don’t know what the Hutchison instruction relates to, or whether that is tied in to Merkley-Levin in some way. Since we can’t expect our compromised, indolent media to actually question Senators about their actions on the record (actions which that media can’t even coherently describe), we’ll have to wait until Monday evening to see for ourselves, I guess.

  63. I would be all over my Senator to support this bill, but Levin is already my Senator.

  64. As much as I think corporate greed is often out of hand and those with money get the upper hand on the “common man”, a lot of the problems with the financial crisis were caused by government intervention in the first place.

    If the government didn’t back subprime mortgages, super power banks would have issued less (probably still would have issued some anyway) but when a freddy and fanny imploded, banks couldn’t get rid of them and this triggered a huge part of the collapse.

    Certainly corporate greed is a problem and they should be closely monitored for any troubling activities but the more the government gets involved the more problems it creates down the line. In other words we don’t need more bad regulations to fix the bad regulations.

  65. Agreed. Something my old man laid on me in my youth during the Nixon administration: Before you throw the old bums out, learn all you can about the new bums…

  66. theotherguydidit

    This is not the time for the faint of heart.

    We should have no regets in leaving behind any doubts to the cause of our actions.

    As we weighed the words against the deeds, the plainer the truth be told, there are no exceptions to be made.

    Not god nor glory will save them all told.

    For we fast approach their judgement day.