The Republicans Help Reform, Inadvertently

By Simon Johnson, co-author of 13 Bankers

No one can publicly oppose what is widely perceived to be “financial reform” – the polls are quite clear on this point.  If you want to help Wall Street, your options are:

1)      Oppose the Dodd bill, claiming that it would create a more dangerous situation than what exists today.  But Senator Mitch McConnell already tried this and was thoroughly debunked, e.g., by Senator Ted Kaufman.  There will be rhetorical posturing along these lines, to be sure, but there is no sign of any real traction.

2)      Run a comprehensive “astro turf” disinformation campaign, pretending to be the voice of “true reform.”  But these efforts are too obvious at this point – and too obviously fraudulent, so this actually helps the pro-reform narrative.

3)      Stall for time in terms of preventing the Dodd bill from coming to the floor of the Senate, while working out a backroom compromise that will greatly gut the substance (on consumer protection, derivatives, and/or the resolution authority).  This appears to be what the Republicans are focusing on, with Senator Richard Shelby in the lead.

But there is a potential weak point in this Republican strategy.

If the Democratic leadership becomes fed up with Republican stalling – or otherwise sees an opportunity to paint the Republicans as completely obstructionist, they could actually strengthen the bill.

For example, including something like the Brown-Kaufman amendment (or otherwise addressing the issues posed by our six megabanks) would make it easier for people to understand what is at stake.  To win on this issue in November, the Democrats may need to simplify their message and make it more powerful.  Some relatively pro-Wall Street Democrats are reluctant to do this, but if the Republicans stand united, nothing will pass – so why not propose something stronger that will go down to clear and memorable defeat, particularly after a searing debate?

The Republicans are not the only ones who can maneuver here.  By delaying any progress, they are creating an opportunity within the Democratic side to find ways forward that are not entirely designed by Senator Dodd.

The Goldman Sachs appearance between Senator Carl Levin’s subcommittee on investigations is one wild card tomorrow.  President Obama beginning to become more energized and focused on this issue – including at least one speech this week – is another.

Republican stalling tactics have, in effect, introduced a greater element of randomness into the process.

The Republicans obviously want to slow reform or make it change direction.  They should be careful what they wish for.

77 thoughts on “The Republicans Help Reform, Inadvertently

  1. You seem to thinks the Democrats want something other than the Republicans do, when in fact they all want exactly the same thing: To claim to the peons that they did something, without actually changing anything for their biggest donors.

    The members of Congress who care about serious financial reform can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Even if its missing a couple of fingers.

  2. simon i commend u on your fight for real reform. at first you didnt seem to understand the campaign finance side of the political equation. u now seem to understand. but u still miss what most ppl miss. obama does not want to move the country left. he wants to move the left to rite. he wants to show that left solutions r wrong & establish the rite-center as the new left.

  3. I think that the simple right-left axis that fascinates American political observers never existed in American politics, and it’s an oversimplification. America has a far right, no real leftists but instead a faction of “progressives,” and a liberal and centrist majority who all believe in private ownership of property but public education and public health and libraries and roads — in short, a center that believes in equality, decency, opportunity, and respect for difference. To call the centrists “right-center” seems to me to be a misreading of history and of American politics. American history does not present a true left in the sense that British or European history does, and I don’t think that’s something to mourn. The majority of Americans are liberals, that is to say, they adhere to the bourgeois ideology of the middle class, believing in a stakeholder society that rewards work while striving to make sure that the poor are taken care of. There is no movement to end Social Security and Medicare in the center, for instance, as there is on the far right; regular Americans all support the idea that government should ensure that the elderly are taken care of. Calling that a “right” position is wrong. In my humble opinion.

  4. Mr.Johnson, keep up the good work. In the marketplace of ideas, yours and Mr.Kwak’s make the most sense. William K. Black has a lot to say too. He makes a good case that fruad is at the heart of this issue. Just bought your book today-can’t wait to delve into it.

  5. Simon, have you met any Republican Senators who are in favor of a strong reform bill. I find it hard to believe that every sincgle one of them is against this. What is Bunning’s objection, for example?

  6. While the Democratic party is not free from Wall Street influence re: the proposed reform policies, this bill is reasonably strong….and the Republicans are far, far more guilty of taking donations from and protecting the interests of Wall Street via policy. This has been true for generations, and is true today, so upthread poster’s equivalence is false.

    One critical recent exception is the CFMA, which Bill Clinton signed on to, as did all of DC. But false equivalence is generally either a political tactic that attempts to blur boundaries, or a misreading of who deserves more blame, an imprecise “pox on all their houses”. Deregulation of everything and unpaid for tax cuts helps Wall Street and does very little for regular citizens.

    Simon is right; if there is no bill, Democrats will be able to leverage that this fall to their advantage if they show that Republicans stopped a strong bill. Of course, we would all be better off with a good bill. But that’s politics.

  7. Organizing for America, Obama’s political group is starting working on 2010 election, great. The problem is no matter how much money or organizing they do, without giving people reasons (ex. strong financial bill, immigration reform, and a good climate bill, etc) to vote for them, money or organizing will be produce a weak outcome. Myself don’t see why I should vote for a friendly Wall Street Democratic Party.
    Mr Simon, keep up the good work. Why won’t you run for the senate to replace Scott Brown? That is if you live in MA.

  8. OFA/Democrats give people reasons to vote for you. Your effort in this case will be producing desired outcome, come November.

  9. You wrote: “The members of Congress who care about serious financial reform can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Even if its missing a couple of fingers.”

    I agree with you on principle, but think you are stingy – I’d put the number as perhaps 50 House Dems and 10 Senate Dems. ?

  10. The Dems ought to be doing a lot of town meetings on this issue. They might even be able to split the teabaggers, since populists are basically anti-Wall Street. However, to do this, as Simon suggests, Dems will need to be able to claim that their financial reform will actually be effective in preventing another big meltdown. They can’t truthfully say this about the Dodd bill, so they’ll need to improve the bill with new laws to break up TBTF institutions. The longer the GOP stalling continues, the less politics as usual will work. The media, smelling deceit in both the Dem bill and the GOP opposition, may give more coverage to Brown and Kaufman and dissident economists, since most people really, really don’t want another meltdown. The biggest problem is that Obama will try to use populist rhetoric and move toward the center-right at the same time, as several people have pointed out. and other center-progressive organizations need to be persuaded to oppose Obama-Dodd. Liberal astroturf is also effective sometimes. This is one issue a lot of liberals might march for.

    Simon, don’t forget to support the bipartisan Senate bill proposing to reinstitute Glass-Steagall. There are four similar bills in the House.

  11. Apparently Senator McCain is working with Senator Cantwell to try and re-enact Glass Steagall. Others pushing more reform (it’s not Senators): Brown, Kaufman, Sanders, Lincoln, Grassley, Snowe and Bunning (voted with Sanders for breaking up big banks). Republicans mentioned above are voting with the Democrats mentioned above. They have not proposed anything, although a flood of amendments will be put forward (from both side) when it can most likely slow the process down.

    Honestly though, it looks like mostly kabuki theater on both sides. Getting a good reform bill passed will not be “politically possible”. End result – Wall St wins again, America gets hosed.

    Be worried too. Wall St will want our Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, retirement pensions, VA benefits, everything, before they even think about raising taxes on Wall St banksters or taxing Wall St transactions.

  12. and I forgot to add Sen. Sanders (I), of course.

    I hope the Dems surprise me this time, and buck Wall St. campaign finance paymeisters, and pass or attempt to pass the bill with all the four or five strong amendments included.

  13. Thank you for your articulate insights. The vehemence of the right wing extremists is disturbing, but I think that the growing number of registered Independents indicates that more and more voters want to support their particular political issues rather than supporting the total agendas of either the Democratic or Republican parties. As Independents, they can more easily “adhere to the bourgeois ideology of the middle class” as you put it. Thank you for reminding me that there IS cause for hope

  14. I really think you are right, Simon..I think President will keeping pushing for tough reform as well. The republicans are digging themslves a big hole. They just don’t know it yet and the right wing media keeps trying to make a case for their failed lack of ideas.

  15. They want the same thing, alright – to stay in their seats! I have full faith in all of these politicians, that they will do whatever is best for themselves.

    I know that not all of them are that bad, but that’s where your count comes in…

  16. Most of them are owned by Wall St, to some degree. On the other hand, NONE of them want a repeat of the bank collapse. A major recession is always bad for business.

  17. HEY John, Are you planning to not vote or vote for the disastrous party of Hell no!!? President Obama is going to be one of the best presidents ever by the end of his second term!!

  18. Simon — it would be great if you could lay out point by point what the bill does about each of the key issues: transparency of derivatives trading, consumer protection, “too big to fail,” bailouts, etc. ALONG WITH your analysis of what the GOP is proposing AND what you think should be done. That would be very educational for the public.

  19. I will never vote for a republican candidate never for a friendly corporatist Democratic either. As an independent, if the Democrats wish to get my vote, they need to start working for the people, the country, not Wall Street.
    As for President Obama being the best president, one will see at the end of his second term, if reelected. I just wish he would start listening to main street not his Wall Street friendly counselors. With Summers, Rahm, and Geithner, actions speak louder than words.

  20. The overwhelming majority of people are hard working, honest in their dealings, more concerned with raising families than ruling others, if anything distracted by their day to day problems. Long suffering, patient to a fault, too willing to the give the Wall Street bankers the benefit of the doubt for the very reason of their own good natures. They could not imagine themselves doing the things of which these men stand accused, so they cannot believe that others would so willingly lie and deceive, cheat and steal, attack the very heart of the nation, while wrapping themselves in a flag of hypocrisy, for a few more dollars that they can hardly need or even personally spend.

    And why? Because it feeds their sickened hearts, their pathological egos, and the need to make others suffer loss for their own gains. It sets them apart from a humanity which they hold in contempt co-mingled with a nagging self-hate, makes them feel superior and worthwhile, and at the extreme even as gods among men.

    So when the fresh public relations spin coming out of Washington and propaganda from Wall Street and the financial sector’s starts this week, and seeks to confuse the issues and distort the true nature of the fraud, recall who profited and who lost, who was caught with their hands deep in the pockets of the many, and even now stand arrogantly unrepentant with the ongoing misery of others to their account. And who stood idly by while charged by sworn oaths with protecting the innocent, the unsuspecting many, from the predatory, lawless few.

    “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” Edmund Burke

    Or, in the words of William K. Black and Elliot Spitzer in their essay Questions on the Goldman Scandal at New Deal 2.0:

    “We applaud the SEC lawsuit, but it will not solve the problem. Unless our financial system is reformed to put adequate protections and checks and balances in place, we can expect this kind of fraud to continue. Financial executives will continue to take risks they do not understand. Those who control the flow of capital will continue to churn out profits with socially disastrous consequences.”

    The banks must be restrained, the financial system reformed, the economy brought bank into balance, and justice done though the mighty fall, before there can be any sustained recovery.

  21. I’ll be shocked if President Obama signs any bill that reduces the size of the banks or seriously constrains their scope, and I strongly suspect Professor Johnson is arguing the possibility more out of Hope than conviction. Until and unless JPM trades under 40, this whole discussion is almost certainly just an exercise in political junkie-dom.

  22. I might have agreed with you even 10 days ago, but that was before the SEC suit, before people who read the Business Pages gasped in horror over Magnetar, and before the WaMu hearings.

    I agree that the Levin hearings are a wild card, and believe that they will be a factor in what happens.

    But the part of the American public that reads TIME, Newsweek, and daily metropolitan papers know use words like ‘derivative’ and ‘fraud’ with a familiarity that did not seem possible even two months ago. Those people also have high rates of voting, and tend to write campaign and charitable contributions.

    If the people that I know are any indication, then both ‘white collar’ and ‘blue collar’ Americans are paying attention like never before.

    It would not surprise me in the least if Levin’s hearings turn out to be widely watched, or at least portions of them.

    People that I’ve known for years who had never paid much attention have become politicized post-Katrina, post-Bush, and post-Iraq. I don’t think they’re in a mood for Potemkin financial reforms; I think they really are paying attention.

  23. I hope you’re right.

    Watching how HCR was passed was disheartening and shocking. Seemed like the Senate represented everybody but the American people.

  24. johnson prefers we focus on the bad republicans, and not think too critically about the weaknesses designed into the dodd/shelby/obama bill

    and he likes to use the word astroturf a lot

  25. Best President ever? That’s something I’d like to see for sure, and that goes for every President, but Obama’s not exactly off to a fast start…

  26. Some posts I did on Republican Dick Shelby all the way back in February. A little dated but still somewhat relevant if you are an Alabama voter and want to know what little character Republican Dick Shelby has and how he would just as soon crap on small savers and small depositors at banks in Alabama than to look at them.

    And a video of his graft taking smirk. He can’t even give an interview without his crooked smirk because he knows he’s so corrupt.

    And lastly here’s a record of Republican Dick Shelby’s campaign contributions. This is especially for Alabama voters who want to know how much Dick cares about how much the banks screw you.

  27. the other day simon was saying there were no bailouts in the senate markup – which was patently false

  28. if you are talking political philosophy at individual level, then i would agree with the idea that the center is liberal… the center still believes in balancing liberty and equality and ownership…

    however, our political system is corrupted by those with wealth and power, who use the two parties to divide liberal camps – libertarians and liberal democrats – and keep them from working together to secure protections and benefits for the individual

  29. AJ,
    If some columnist, editorialist—let’s say his name is Mr. X—writes a post entitled “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?” where do you think you would rank his ego??? Like on a 1 to 10 scale?? 1 is very humble shy type, 10 is so obnoxiously arrogant you can’t stand to be in the same room with him. I mean if you didn’t know this guy, Mr. X, where do you think his Ego would be to write a post with that title???

    I mean if I was assuming I was the only economist who had the correct answer to a question/game you might even call that a type of “self-indulgence” eh???

  30. Tangent-Shelby reminds me of the cowboy-pilot character from Dr. Strangelove.

    But on the topic, I think that we could see some dramatic results if the Brown/Kaufman amendment was brought to a vote on the floor because it seems like it would receive more bipartisan support than any of the other proposals being discussed. That’s not to say that it would have the support of 50+ senators, but it would have a far more balanced ratio of republican/democratic support than other provisions, and that could be very telling to those watching the debate.

  31. Colleen must steal for Wall St, or for the Merchants of Death, so from her pov Obama already is a great president and looks to get even better.

  32. The same OFA which let itself be astroturfed immediately following the election? I sure hope nobody’s that mentally deficient that he’d fall for that scam again, working for it or voting for Dems.

    Fool me once, shame on you, and so forth….

    (Obama of course wanted to liquidate his grassroots movement the moment he was elected. It’s textbook Machiavelli, for a lying sociopath like him.)

  33. I would agree. Simon is too partisan here. The regulatory scheme in the US is interelated to political party finance and a major source of revenue for the parties.

    The Democratic scheme is to add more layers of bureaucracy without really focussing on the substance. If the government really believed that the NY banks were too concentrated, then why not start an anti-trust action to break them up instead of this Congressional farce.

    The talk on derivitives and attacks on shorts is largely killing the messenger. Politicians are even worse that Wall Street in proclivity for financial pyramids and scams, and they do not like being exposed or being subjected to discipline.

    Buffett has some serious points on how this legislation will create problems for those carrying existing derivatives transactions.

  34. I think Obama needs to call the Republican’s bluff and reach across the aisle to work with McCain in bringing back Glass-Steagall. The President should wait until after Levin puts Blankfein through the meat grinder and then make a televised speech where he says that current legislation does not go far enough so he is incorporating McCain’s ideas into what the Democrats already have proposed. Let him take the offensive and steal the Republicans thunder and then watch them stammer and stutter when asked for their response. It’s time for the President to lead his party and pass comprehensive, financial legislation that is commensurate with the TBTF financial corporations nearly crashing the global financial system.

  35. Yeah, I do think a fair number of Democrats want real reform including my guy Sherrod Brown…of course every single GOP is on board with Wall Street…only one Dem the DINO from Omaha voted against bringing it to the floor…go ahead GOP filibuster financial reform so it goes down in flames, by by big Dem defeat in 2010 and then we will go it right.

  36. I ask you again Simon Johnson. You who were in the IMF, you should perhaps know.

    Where in the current proposals for regulatory reform is there a mention to how the Basel Committee should be governed and controlled and on what are the limits of its attributions with respect to the financial system in the US?

    I say this because in the 1706 pages of the reform proposal that I read in I can’t seem to find Basel mentioned not even once… could this be? Am I reading the wrong proposal?

    I say this because for instance if you care to go and see one of the events detonating the crisis, April 28, 2004, the day when SEC explicitly delegated into the Basel Committee, and let loose the capital requirements for the large investment brokers, you must know (I assume) that was one of those pivotal events that led us into this horrendous mess.

    Some details of that day here:

    Sometimes I get the feeling that just as some defend their buddies on Wall Street, you defend some buddies of yours in Basel… but then of course I could be wrong.

  37. Where is your call for Buffett to be “frog-marched” in cuffs. Surely he influenced Ben Nelson to add the carve out for his 8 billion capital short fall on his long derivatives positions.
    Well at least he is not known to have taken part in slider gobbling side bets.
    At least you still have your principles Simon.

  38. I’m not sure the Republicans really want to water down or stall financial reform legislation. Personally, I think your point No. 2 is probably most on-target. Regardless, average Americans are paying attention to this issue, and politicians who are concerned about their political futures best take note.

  39. Dear Polyanna,

    Does anyone know who removed the Buffett Provision? Just curious. Wonder if the provision had been “outed.” And Ben Nelson was one of the 41 “Republicans” who voted against cloture.

    What makes anyone think that a single provision in this bill or any other bill exists for the public welfare/safety or the common good? Bills are patchwork quilts of quids or pro quos for donors.

  40. There are grave dangers for the Obama Presidency in how the Dem Party appears to be positioning itself.

    There is also admirable cunning in the GOP position.

    “Too big to fail” is likely to be noxious, but not fatal for the President in the short-term e.g. 2010 congressional elections. But if there is a douple-dip recession in 2011 it could become mortally poisonous for him during his re-election campaign.

    IMO President Obama needs to think hard about his soft-tone on breaking up the megabanks if he wishes to be a two-term leader of consequence.

  41. The “small government” -code for unregulated greed and fraud – and “Trickle Down” economic policies have been trade mark of the Republicans not the Democratic Party for at least 100 years. For the second time in the same 100 years these policies have brought the same outcome…and only a lack of historical education ( and Faux Noise Propaganda) prevents the Republicans from being as popular as piranha at a pool party

    While the Banksters throw some bribes (contributions) to Democratic pols the majority of the bribes have gone consistently to Republicans. In addition, assuming both sides of the aisle are personally aligned with their party on most issues; the Democrats tend to regard government not as a threat to “profits” but as both an aid to responsible and a cudgel/counter weight to the corporations their incentive other than competitive “war chests” is less

  42. Look to the U.K election, really promising signs of change in considering the 3rd party (Lib Dems) and independents. People have realised the more the ‘old’ parties promise change, the less there is.

    I like the idea of a more representative democracy, check out the single transferrable vote idea where you don’t waste your vote in safe seats and choose your preferred candidate rather than just the guy the Dems or GOP puts forward.

    Tackle campaign finance reform, by the time anyone gets to the whitehouse they owe so many favours that any chance of change is pretty much non-existent.

  43. Please explain the alleged existence of bailouts in the mark-up. I may be ignorant but so far I buy Barney Frank’s assertion that there are no bailouts only a bankster funded reserve to finance the death of one or more failing banks. That’s not a bailout. So where IS the bailout? Thank you in advance.

  44. The Democrats probably don’t want to overplay populism if they feel they can get something passed, and most people won’t really know if it’s good, bad, or indifferent. They’re probably counting on Repubs to break ranks, which seems plausible when some are on record saying both sides are “conceptually very close” to a deal. (And McConnell’s already looked pretty bad once when he was called out reciting a consultant’s talking points, with one of his own responding that everyone should act like adults on this issue.)

    A bit on the substance: The message about breaking up the big banks doesn’t seem to have gained much traction. I have to count myself among those who remain skeptical. There just doesn’t seem to be a good answer to why the US should “go it alone” on breaking up megabanks, which would seem to create an obvious and significant risk of capital flight to non-US megabanks. (Problem not solved.) And it doesn’t seem at all reassuring to say, well foreign tax payers will bear all the costs of any future bailout of their own megabanks. I rather thought the one thing everyone could agree on about the last crisis was the global economy is too interconnected today for one state to effectively insulate itself from the effects of a wider financial crisis outside its borders. NB that most megabanks holding a cumulative tens of trillions of dollars in financial assets are based outside the U.S., and are widely distributed across states in Europe and Asia. I take seriously Prof Johnson’s point about limiting the size and leverage of megabanks, but this looks like an instance where building G20 consensus would be essential to deal with the issue effectively.

  45. Nemo, Mickey Kaus agrees with you. He writes:

    “It’s a stark illustration of the inequities of capitalism that organized labor can only afford to buy one political party, but Wall Street can buy both of them. “

  46. the Republicans are scared for their potical lives…and totally confused what to do…they are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place…damn if they support bank reform and damn if they oppose the bill…at some point this “coalition of the weaklings” will eventually crack as they will have to look out for their own potical hide…and inevitably go with public flow which is totally against the 3 B’s (Big Bad Banks) and for serious financial reform…

  47. I get that, though in fairness it looked like Mr. X’s specific points of criticism focused on overstating the evidence and drawing exaggerated conclusions. I tend to agree it’s difficult to wield terms like fraud and corruption without a lot of support and precision. But it also seems fair to suspect a culture of greed and hubris among the financially powerful that led to rampant and excessive risk-taking, including some cases of immoral, unethical, and/or illegal acts. Now there is one noteworthy civil fraud case against Goldman, as well as another extensive examination of potential claims against Lehman’s executives. And there’s also recent history, such big bank involvement in transactions involving Enron, Parmalat, etc.

  48. Re: @ racetoinfinity_____Ah yes,consensus is the easy way out,but remember this:..”Wall Street leases their tangible assets; but it is Main Street that controls the intangibles whom happen to be a fickle bunch gone deaf when pillaged by the Savoir-faire”

  49. thank you Jessica. The article you referenced points out very starkly the politics of money. William Buffet is pulling the puppet strings on the Democratic Senator Nelson from Nebraska. The Buffet exemption was removed, and Buffet is pissed:
    “exempted any existing derivatives contracts from being subjected to new capital requirements. That provision had been pushed by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has $63 billion in existing derivatives contracts and would have to set aside $8 billion to cover potential losses on those contracts if the legislation were to pass. “

  50. Re: @ E. Barandiaran____These Mice or Men regurgitate the morsels of victory devoured that feed few, but their fate is sealed when the hungry herd burst forth a stampede!

  51. Re: @ readerOfTeaLeaves____Off Topic a wee-bit but nostalgic,I watched every hearing from the “Whitewater Breakin Scandal”,that eventually sunk Nixon’s ship. What I learned from that period of history,…is that the highly classified archives have yet been fully released to the public. Sound familiar?

  52. Typical Republican response. Where’s the beef? Not is not a meaningful response simple a statement of disagreement with no information to back you up. Typical Republican: We don’t like it (because the Democrats proposed it) and we have nothing to offer as an alternative.

  53. Re: @ colleen____ President Obama is a shrinking shrill – whomever got the democratic nod (post Bush #43) was a shoo-in – his only shot at re-election is to pass immigration, thus getting the entire latino vote.

  54. A propos the remarks about an ideological spectrum in U.S. political parties. S. M. Lipset noted that both dems and republicans would fit comfortably in the UK’s Tory party. There hasn’t been a “left” since Norman Thomas ran on the socialist ticket (and the CPUSA fielded local candidates). The “progressives” were not of the political left – rather – they sought institutional “reforms” (for example, at-large electoral systems for municipal elections to blunt ethnic-bloc voting) as well as aiding the emergence of managed competition amongst corporations (v. Sklar’s Corporate Reorganization of American Capitalism). To state that the majority of Americans are liberals is to confuse the issue. Some are Manchester liberals – believers in unfettered laissez faire capitalism and others are Millsian liberals who believe in autonomy. Republicans hate the latter and approve of the former – although they actually embody both! Dems are too confused (ideologically incoherent) to characterize.
    What is characteristic of both political parties is the great fear (to use Lefevbre’s term) that social revolution is just around the corner. The U.S. press was nearly hysterical over the French Revolution, the Revs. of 1848, the Paris Commune, the Russian revolution. No wonder that long after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, nativists still think that Obama is promoting ‘socialism’.
    It is less the left-right axis that is depressing but the absolute failure of imagination about society that is so ghastly about the contemporary U.S. I recommend Tony Judt’s Ill Fares the Land to all readers of this blog

  55. Re: @ Observer____ McCain is baiting Obama. He is bought ,and paid for by “Wall Street”,many,many times over,a true thorough-bred charlatan trying to enhance his re-election bid/appeal.

  56. Re: @ samdog___Republican’s are the party of the Aristocrat’s,and the unfortunate wanna-be middle-class that forgot their roots,and now having realized that have morphed into the “Grand-Neo Independent Party”! PS. Say it ain’t so,…?

  57. Frankly, I am tired of hearing how Wall St gave big $$$ to Obama, and gives almost as many $$$ to the Dems as the Repukacans. How much was given is a straw man —- all that counts is what are they doing now. Clearly, the Repukacans are concerned with giving Wall St “a return on its’ investment”. The Dems (only if they support and work to pass financial reform) took the $$$ and decided to stay honest (at least for the moment) and attempt to protect the people most in need against the corporate government which continues to dominate our country.
    While considering all this keep in mind the only thing that really matters is to get re-elected. Therefore, all of our elected officials are subject to change depending on which way the wind blows. When can we get public funded elections with a time limit on how soon an individual may start to campaign before the actual election. WARNING !!! This novel idea may actually result in elected officials doing something in office beside raising $$$$$$ to get re-elected and maintaining the perks of modern day royalty.
    I know just a crazy thought.

  58. Essay Report:

    Journalist please take note of the ability you have to help uncover the true motivation of decision making. Such ways you can start is by posting a ledger of financial contributions from K Street over the past 6 months and next 60 days. Certainly if published in terms we can understand as an average citizen maybe the intention to stop reform can be better understood. This will mean journalist will have to return to hardcore reporting and independent thought regardless of party preference.
    Buying decisions is not democracy, true reform will take place when our elected leaders are simply happy with their six figure salaries and not corporate donations.

  59. excerpts from article written by Robert Creamer in Huffington Post…

    Americans are furious that — after coming with tin cups in their hands to the taxpayer, and receiving the largest bailout in world history — these same huge banks are gorging themselves on billions in profits. They are furious that their CEO’s and traders are stuffing ten-million-dollar bonuses in their pockets and flying off to celebrate in the South of France, while millions of Americans are still struggling to replace the jobs that these “masters of the universe” destroyed.

    Remember that this vote comes in the midst of daily news stories about how the Big Kahuna of the Wall Street banks — Goldman Sachs — made billions by betting against the American housing market, and selling investors securities that were selected to fail.

    The thing that is so outrageous to most Americans about the Goldman Sachs story isn’t their guilt or innocence of securities fraud. The whole story puts on public display what these big Wall Street banks actually do for a living. They don’t make loans to businesses or individuals — they gamble. People ask themselves, “We bailed these guys out so they could keep on gambling?” Might as well have bailed out a bunch of casinos or racetracks.

    Today the rest of us are once again in grave economic danger from unregulated derivatives capable of destroying the U.S. economy all over again.

    The timebomb Buffett warned us of is still ticking. Every day the Republicans delay, they put America at risk.

  60. The only thing I have to say on this is that, if the Republicans keep blocking debate on this they are not pointing the gun at their feet, but rather at their head. Aside from jobs, this is the only present issue that the public wants addressed by Congress. If they continue to filibuster the motion to proceed, each day they do it becomes more apparent whose side they are on. Each day adds to the burgeoning political advantage that the Dems are now seeing.

    My only fear is that the Dems will tire of fighting this and start making back room deals. They must not do that, but must force the Reps to come into the open with any real objections and amendments. Otherwise, all advantage is lost.

  61. You obviously haven’t listened long or often to Simon. He knows that the bill has weaknesses. He also knows that a perfect bill can’t happen now. As he has pointed out many times, the 1930’s (original Wall Street) reform didn’t happen all at once. Neither will this one. This he knows. Do he and I both want everything? Sure. Can it happen now? Not a chance. In this case anything up to 51% of a loaf is absolutely better than none.

  62. Still the centrist have the floor with Dodd leading the two step, progressives are left out where they belong unable to cry a hue of need as they sublimate tour cause to the greater good of party hood, come November the hoods will step on the centrist graves and jubilantly claim to have found Hitler’s cajones. watch pubs plead the need to be practical and address the up or down vote with alacrity, thus ensuring passage before the pulse is taken to be dead of a bill to weak to do even good intent.

  63. No, the guy who might want a weaker bill only
    has 1/2 a finger missing and the phantom half
    might have been lost on someone like you.
    I have no doubt the present bill would pass
    if not for republicans. To say that seems
    obvious but maybe not to you. I know that
    republicans want nothing for reasons of
    blocking mocrats from taking credit and
    beyond that to the fact that they want
    bank money and even beyond that to the
    fact that they want a weaker bill so
    that another crisis DOES HAPPEN…
    just so it happens before 2012.

  64. Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein’s testimony virtually guaranteed President Obama his 2nd major legislative victory of his first term…and the latest opinion polls affirm this whereby nearly 70% of the American public support a strong and meaningful financial reform law being passed this year…even the Republicans can read polls and not all of them are THAT stupid…some of them, probably close to 20 in my estimation, will eventually support Sen Dodd’s bill…this game’s over folks, but for the official Senate count…looks like the Democrats learned from their near death experience in passing the recent Health Care Act..

Comments are closed.