Oh my: GOP filibusters Dems' financial reform bill

Actually, it was the GOP plus Ben Nelson, who’s right on track for a primary challenge in 2012 notwithstanding his support for O-Care. Ironic quote from Captain Kickback: “This has an awful lot of unintended consequences.” Unlike, say, health-care reform.

The One is “deeply disappointed.”

I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted in a block against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these Senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether. But the American people can’t afford that. A lack of consumer protections and a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly brought our economy to its knees, and helped cause the pain that has left millions of Americans without jobs and without homes. The reform that both parties have been working on for a year would prevent a crisis like this from happening again, and I urge the Senate to get back to work and put the interests of the country ahead of party.

This isn’t a bill-killer, just a bit of muscle-flexing by both sides. The Dems figured it was worth a shot to call the vote in case Brown, Snowe, or Collins was ready to cave; if not, then the filibuster can (and will) be spun as Republicans once again proving that they’re the “party of fatcat bankers” or whatever. As for the GOP, they got to show their base that they’re willing to stand up against bailouts all the while knowing that negotiations will continue this week. Shelby’s said that he and Dodd are “conceptually very close” to a deal and Scott Brown issued a statement after voting no that to emphasize that “my vote is not a vote against financial reform; instead it’s a vote to insist that the parties continue bi-partisan negotiations to come up with a commonsense bill we can all be proud of.” Republicans are going to try to buy themselves some more leverage by introducing their own bill — fewer bailout loopholes, natch, plus more scrutiny for Fannie and Freddie — but ultimately, financial reform is not the hill the GOP’s going to die on. The polling shifts a bit depending upon how the questions are phrased (mention “Wall Street” and support for reform inches up), but there’s no hardcore majority opposition for this the way there was for O-Care. In fact, Dave Weigel makes an interesting catch from today’s WaPo poll showing a heavy majority in favor of stricter regulations “on the way banks and other financial institutions conduct their business”

I’ve gotten a look at the internals of this morning’s poll on financial reform, and the party breakdowns confirm that the package being debated in Congress simply hasn’t generated much ire among members of the GOP base. With one exception, they oppose its provisions. The opposition just isn’t very intense.

Thirty-five percent of Republicans support “requiring large banks and other financial companies to put money into a fund that would cover the cost of taking over and breaking up any large financial company that fails and threatens the broader economy,” the part of the bill labeled the “bailout fund” by Republican leaders. Twenty-seven percent support “having the federal government regulate the complex financial instruments known as derivatives.” Forty-four percent support “increasing federal oversight of the way banks and other financial companies make consumer loans, such as mortgages and auto loans, and issue credit cards.” And a majority, 53 percent, support “stricter federal regulations on the way Wall Street firms conduct their business.”

The politics here are much harder than they were with ObamaCare for the simple reason that populist sentiment is more complicated on the issue. “No more bailouts” is easy not merely because it’s laissez faire but because it’s anti-bank; to the extent that the rest of the Democrats’ bill is “anti-bank” too, you’d expect to see populist opposition to it soften. And, per WaPo’s poll, you do. Exit question: How many Republican votes will the final bill get? Over/under is seven.

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