Anger at Wall Street could force Republican retreat

Published on People’s World, by John Wojcik, April 27 2010.

Angry senators grilling Goldman Sachs executives on Capitol Hill fueled a firestorm that could break the GOP’s latest filibuster. That storm will arrive on Wall Street’s doorstep on Thursday, with thousands preparing to take their demand for financial reform into the lion’s den itself.

After Republicans and one Democrat blocked consideration of Wall Street reform last night, senior Democratic aides said that Senate Majority leader Harry Reid will continue holding one cloture vote after another to pressure the GOP into ending its filibuster of the bill making its way towards the president’s desk … // 

… Sen. Bill Nelson of Nebraska, the one Democrat who joined the GOP filibuster, provided a dramatic example.

Observers say the removal from the bill of a provision that would have benefitted billionaire and Nebraska native Warren Buffet was behind Nelson’s flip. “He was on board until today and the only thing that changed was the removal of that provision, which would have exempted any existing derivatives contracts from being subjected to new capital requirements,” said one Democratic aide. “That provision had been pushed by Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which has $63 billion in existing derivatives contracts.”

The removal of the provision and the resultant strengthening of the bill actually points to one of the problems the filibuster is causing for the GOP and its backers. The longer they filibuster, the greater the chances that progressives have to make additional improvements in the bill.

“If the Democratic leadership becomes fed up with Republican stalling,” argued Baseline Scenario’s Simon Johnson, “they could actually strengthen the bill by including something like the Brown-Kaufman amendment.” That amendment would allow for immediate breaking up of the big banks.

Chances to improve the bill have been boosted by the refusal of Reid and Obama to give in to the lobbyists while they simultaneously try to broaden support for  reform.

Some say that by filibustering the Republicans have actually fallen into a planned trap. Reid has been defying Republicans to obstruct the bill and appears now to be exacting a political price from them for doing so.

The Huffington Post’s’ Chris Weigant noted: “Republicans, in this metaphorical card game, not only have a bad hand to play, but they were actually allowed to thumb through the deck and pick their own cards, and they still have no good cards to play.” (full text).

Comments are closed.