The Democrats really do seem to have a new fire behind them as they are starting to take up financial reform. Yesterday, we heard that Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] of all people would be leading the Democrats on a tough derivatives reform bill. Today, Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd [D, CT] took to the Senate floor and unhesitatingly fought back at Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell's [R, KY] false claims that the financial reform bill would lead to endless bank bailouts. Here's the video:Read Full Article
Yesterday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] surprised just about everyone (including yours truly) by announcing that her derivatives bill was going to be stronger than anything we've seen from Dodd, the House of Representatives, or the White House. Felix Salmon has a helpful post clearing up some confusion between exchange trading and clearing requirements, and outlining what we can expect in her bill, which will officially drop tomorrow:Read Full Article
Benjamin Sarlin has a great piece at the Daily Beast on the state-of-play of derivatives reform now that it's moving under the jurisdiction of Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] and the Agriculture Committee.
He has a Lincoln staffer is on record saying that the derivatives bill she's writing, which will be dropped in the next couple weeks, will at least require all derivatives to be traded publicly on exchanges. That's a relatively big deal in that it tells us where we should be watching for possible derivatives dealer (a.k.a. the big banks) giveaways, namely in clearing exemptions and margin requirements for swaps that are exempt from clearing. We already know that Lincoln is planning to put exemptions for "end-users" in her bill. If it's anything like the House bill, up to half of all swaps could be exempt from clearing.Read Full Article
"The banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place." - Sen. Dick Durbin [D, IL].
In a few weeks, the banks' "ownership" of Congress will be put to the test. The Senate is going to take up comprehensive financial regulatory reform legislation in May -- this is the main bill the banks are spending their political capital on to fight, and the Senate is where they are hoping to use their influence and make it friendlier to their business.Read Full Article
Now that health care is done, the next big issue Congress will take up is reforming regulations of the financial market. Most of the attention paid to financial reform so far has been on two areas -- addressing the problem of too big to fail and consumer protections for financial products. Both important, but there's a lot more to the bill that people aren't talking about.
For example, the bill is expected to at least partially reverse the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 and restore some transparency to the over-the-counter derivatives market. Sounds arcane, but it's actually a really big deal and it goes to the heart of what turned a mortage crisis into a systemic financial crisis in 2008.
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Here are a few articles and blog posts from today that you probably should check out:
- Our colleague Paul Blumenthal at the Sunlight Foundation explains how energy industry donations tie into Sen. Blanche Lincoln's [D, AR] opposition to Environmental Protection Agency regulations of greenhouse gases. (The Sunlight Foundation)
- Disgraced and outgoing Rep. Eric Massa [D, NY-29] was embraced by some conservatives for opposing President Obama's health care reform bill. The Weekly Standard warns that this will have consequences when the full details of Massa's actions comes to light. (The Weekly Standard)
Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] is the latest in a growing chorus line of conservative and moderate Democrats opposing President Obama’s plan to try 9/11 suspects in New York. As I mentioned before, Sen. Lindsey Graham [R, SC] has sponsored a bill (S.2977) banning government dollars from going toward any civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 conspirators. A handful of Democrats including Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA], Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] and now Sen. Nelson are co-spon...Read Full Article
The Senate yesterday passed the Small Business Penalty Fairness Act (S. 2917), which, according to Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] “will protect small businesses that were acting in good faith from harsh IRS penalties.”Read Full Article
Two Senate Democrats are teaming up with Sen. Lindsey Graham [R, SC] to torpedo President Obama's plan to try 9/11 co-conspirators in civilian court.Read Full Article
Despite being a slow day in Congress, it was a busy day on Capitol Hill. Here's a look at what you might have missed: Sen. John Kerry [D, MA] has joined Sen. Arlen Specter [D, PA] in calling for a constitutional amendment in response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision lifting limits on corporate cash in campaigns. (The Hill) A group of centrist Senate Democrats including Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA], Sen. Mary Landrieu [D, LA], Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] and Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] ...Read Full Article
The Senate's first order of business on Saturday will be an amendment from Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR], one of the key Democratic swing votes, to limit pay for executives of health insurance companies.Read Full Article
Despite months of calling for more transparency and a slower pace with health care reform, Senate Republicans today blocked a Democratic proposal to require all amendments to the health care bill to be posted online for 72 hours before a vote.Read Full Article
Sen. Chris Dodd has decided to remain as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee rather than take over control of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee chairmanship left vacant by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.Read Full Article
As the summer of the Democrats' discontent winds to a close, the head count for health care reform in the Senate begins in earnest. One of the key Democratic senators on the fence is Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a member of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2010 election. Lincoln jumped into the news today with a quote to a reporter stating her opposition to a public option plan in a health care reform bill. "I would not support a solely government-funded public option. We can't afford that," Lincoln said. The senior Arkansas senator is also the top recipient of campaign contributions from the health industry among senators this year.Read Full Article
Yesterday, Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] became the first Democrat in the Senate to say flatly that she would vote against a health care bill that includes a public health insurance option.Read Full Article