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Apr. 26 2010 - 6:44 pm | 110 views | 1 recommendation | 5 comments

Democrats fail to overcome financial regulation filibuster; no more ‘Cornhusker Kickbacks’ for Ben Nelson

Warren Buffett, 2008's richest person in the w...

He doesn't really care who's in the majority. (Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife)

A Democratic motion to proceed to debate on a financial reform bill, ‘the Dodd bill’, just failed on a 57 to 41 vote in the Senate (see Greg Sargent’s good write-up here).

Republican Senators were unified in opposing the bill, including Maine Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who Democrats hoped might be persuaded to cross the aisle. They were joined by Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a Democrat. Nelson reportedly was concerned with a measure that would have been harmful to Berkshire Hathaway, the financial firm controlled by ‘Oracle of Omaha’ Warren Buffett, and their derivatives holdings.

This is where the game gets dangerous for Democrats.

For any meaningful victory, The Democrats need to make the case that they are favoring Main Street over Wall Street. This is neither an easy case to make, nor one that is persuasive on its face given the enmeshment of various Democratic political interests with Wall Street. Buffett, Nelson’s reason for voting no on cloture, has been a champion of President Obama after all.

Republicans, in the meanwhile, are eagerly seeking to cast themselves as opponents of Wall Street, and Democrats as their enablers – canards like Democrats creating a fund for permanent bailouts of Wall Street firms. Of course, Republicans as a matter of principle don’t favor more regulation of Wall Street. But the GOP has been trafficking in cognitive dissonance since President Obama was elected, and will attempt to cast whatever alternative financial reform they propose as solving all of the dangers to our economy caused by our current shaky regulatory hands..

And if Harry Reid and the Democrats make satisfying Ben Nelson their priority, the GOP is going to have more currency to buy ammunition for that battle. It will be the ‘Cornhusker Kickback part deux.’ If the Democrats have any hope of producing a political win out of financial regulation reform, they not only need to cast the Republican Party’s counter-proposal as harmful to Main Street. They need to make it clear that they aren’t satisfying the provincial concerns of individual members on their own side who are holding out for giveaways to special interests. If this bill gets cast as the Buffett Buy-back, the Democrats will get crushed.


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  1. collapse expand

    I see little chance of the Buffett angle having any traction. I don’t think Buffett will stand in the way of reform. The country already knows from the health debate what scumbag Nelson can be.
    The republicans want to drag this out while they do some back room deal making with the Dems?

    Fine.

    Stall.

    The investigations are getting under way, emails are being released and the public is going to want tougher regulations and they are going to want punishment.

    Better for the democrats to have the republicans drag this out for them, avoid immigration debate and make the economy and the crooks who wreaked it the issue in the election.

    The Republican solution for regulating the banks. Bankruptcy. That’s it.

    • collapse expand

      I’m not sure it’s that simple. The Republicans can peel off a significant share of voters if they succeed in creating the perception that the Democrats are kowtowing to Wall Street in any way. Any deal making with Nelson would create that perception. Harry Reid needs to go on a serious offensive while distancing himself from Nelson if he’s going to have any shot of getting this done.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Michael, You are right. But, Buffet is one of the few untarnished power brokers, he will not countenance any significant marring of that image. He is not G$, Lloyd turned to Buffets image today in front of the Senate to reinforce G$ business and $$ connections. Nelson is history, he drooled on the King this time. Besides, the GOP is filibustering a holy rubber, not a solution. Who really thinks this bullshit will change anything? Just cartoons before the feature fucking restarts.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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