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Since 1977, the Federal Reserve has operated on a dual mandate -- promoting maximum employment and protecting price stability. Some Republicans in Congress are moving to strip the Fed of its unemployment mandate and leave them single-mindedly focused on stopping inflation.

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GOP Again Sustains Filibuster of Financial Reform

April 27, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Expect to see this headline over and over. In lieu of a breakthrough bipartisan deal, the Democrats are planning to hold procedural votes every day on ending a Republican filibuster of debating the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. They're not planning on stopping until the Republicans give up or a deal is struck.

For the second night in a row, the Senate voted 57-41 against beginning debate. Sixty votes were needed for passage. Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] broke ranks and voted with the GOP again (apparently he still hasn't had time to read the bill) and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] voted against the motion again in order to preserve his right to bring it up for another vote under Senate rules.

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When financial reform negotiations broke down a couple weeks ago, Sen. Bob Corker [R, TN] (pictured at right) was the one to stand up and say that a bipartisan bill was still possible. Last week, when the Republicans refused to participate in the mark-up of the bill, Corker called it "a very large strategic mistake," adding that financial reform "is an issue that almost every American wants to see passed." But today he announced that he "absolutely cannot support" the bil.

Senate Democrats, as we know, need to pick off at least one Republican, in addition to holding their own party together, to overcome an inevitable Republican filibuster. They have basically three options -- find a Republican other than Corker who may be willing to vote for the bill, negotiate down some of the provisions to a point that Republicans can support it, or call the Republicans' bluff and just bring the bill to a vote.

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Meet Sen. Corker's Payday Lender Friend

March 11, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Last month, when bipartisan financial reform negotiations where breaking down in the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Bob Corker [R, TN] stepped up from out of nowhere and volunteered to take over for Ranking Member Sen. Richard Shelby [R, AL] on representing the Republicans at the negotiating table. By all accounts, he has in fact managed to keep the bipartisan negotiations alive. He and Sen. Chris Dodd [D, CT] are reportedly ready to introduce their bill to the full Senate imminently.

The New York Times reported yesterday that one of the concessions Corker has won from Dodd is a special exemption in the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency's (CFPA) enforcement powers for payday lenders and other nonbank credit dealers. These are generally the most predatory of lenders, commonly charging interest rates as high as 400 percent. Corker's exemption would allow the CFPA to create rules to regulate the payday loan industry, but it would't give the agency any power to enforce the rules like it could for banks and mortgage dealers.

Talking Points Memo yesterday ran a profile W. Alan Jones, Bob Corker's payday loan shark/multi-millionaire friend and political supporter, and how he may have influenced Corker's decision to fight for the regulatory exemption for his industry:

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Financial Reform Bill Will Exempt Payday Loans

March 10, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Some of the most absurd lending and borrowing happens in the payday loan industry. According to the Center for Responsible Lending (.pdf), the average payday loan borrower pays $800 for each $325 they borrow. That's an absolutely absurd interest rate, but according to the New York Times, the senators who are designing financial reform legislation are going to include a special carve-out so the industry can keep on dealing in these abusive loans:

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Airport Funding Bill Grounded By Union Issue

March 10, 2010 - by Eric Naing

A measure that would provide billions to fund the Federal Aviation Administration and modernize airport infrastructure is being held up over a provision that would allow FedEx workers to unionize as easily as UPS workers.

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Congress Links

February 9, 2010 - by Eric Naing

Washington is still reeling from record snowfall and the House has decided to take the whole week off, but the Senate, at least, managed to get some work done. Weather permitting, Congress hopes to start working on the jobs bill and other legislation soon. Here’s a look at some articles and blog posts of note from the day:

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