Wall Street reform passes, Boehner's Republicans immediately call for repeal

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill just passed the Senate, 60-39. It now goes to the President for his signature. The new law won’t do nearly enough to prevent another Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns – for instance, there’s no practical way to break up too-big-to-fail – but it improves the status quo at least somewhat and was worth passage.

And yet, the man who would be Speaker if voters choose Republican this fall is already calling for the bill’s repeal. That’s right; John Boehner thinks the government should leave Wall Street in exactly the same regulatory position that allowed it to double unemployment and seize up credit.

I understand the politics of demanding repeal of the health insurance bill. The thing’s unpopular. But voters actually care about the economy; they don’t want to lose their jobs, and they understand that the financial industry is to blame for the economic collapse. What the hell is Boehner thinking?  

“I think it ought to be repealed,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference. “There are commonsense things that you should do to plug the holes in the regulatory system that were there, and to bring more transparency to financial transactions, because transparency is like sunlight. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Boehner doesn’t get it. Transparency works when we’re talking about politicians. If we don’t like what we see, we can vote them out. That’s not true of private corporations. If setting up the economy to fail isn’t illegal, it doesn’t matter how transparent it is; there’s nothing the public can do other than yell louder and louder about completely legal activities. If ever there was an industry that screamed for regulation, it’s the financial sector. Under no circumstances can John Boehner be permitted to become Speaker of the House.

And yet, he’s not alone. Senators Thune, Shelby, and LeMieux:

“If we were in a position to do something, maybe [Boehner] is right," said GOP Policy Chairman Sen. John Thune (S.D.). "We'll see if we can do something about it after the next election."

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the top Republican on the Banking Committee, said he “absolutely” agreed.

"If you vote against it, you know it should be repealed. It's the wrong bill. It's not reform. It ignores Fannie and Freddie. It's not going to create any jobs. It's going to create a huge bureaucracy,” Shelby said.

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) said he would look to repeal parts of the legislation.

Also Senators Graham, McCain, and Corker:

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham called the bill a "missed opportunity" to control spending and set priorities. And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was similarly underwhelmed, calling it "business as usual."

"No one can make a convincing argument that this legislation indeed prevents any institution from being too big to fail. You can't make that argument," he told reporters at the Captiol today. McCain's amendment, which would have mandated an end to government support of the failed companies within two years failed, 43 to 56.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a top Republican player in the financial reform debate, slammed the Democrat-backed bill... One reporter noted that Corker had helped to craft the legislation, negotiating several provisions with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, and Corker acknowledged his role but quickly pivoted back to his talking points.

(McCain is right that the bill doesn't end TBTF, but mandating that the government ignore rather than break up such institutions wouldn't solve the problem either.)

Senator Alexander and possible presidential candidate Rep. Mike Pence:

TPMDC asked Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the third ranking Republican in the Senate, whether Republicans would make a concerted push to repeal the financial reform bill.

"Well, that's a good -- that's a good, that's a good question," Alexander said. "We're very disappointed with this...If we have a Congress with a majority of Republicans, and there are ways to improve it or fix it, I imagine there'll be an effort to do that."

Pence suggested much the same... What elements of the law would need to be dismantled?

"There's several aspects of that, but I can break that down for you. Let's jump off that bridge when we come to it," Pence said.

What a message. I think Democratic chances this fall just got a lot better.

Ben Nelson: Reconciliation May Be Necessary

You can be pissed off at Ben Nelson over the "Cornhusker Kickback" or Mary Landrieu and the "Louisiana Purchase" all you want, but in the end game, Nelson might just be the reason health care reform passes. First it was Evan Bayh, now it's Nelson. You'd almost not realize it was the "moderate" crowd we're dealing with here. From NTV:

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson says he's open to using special budget rules known as reconciliation to pass a health care package.

Speaking to Lincoln's KLIN radio Friday, the Democrat said it's the least preferable method of passing legislation but sometimes it's necessary.

Nelson stressed that he won't decide whether to support an overhaul package until he sees the final details, including a cost estimate.

This is not the first time Nelson has expressed his lack of opposition to using budget reconciliation for health care, but his previous statement on the issue came shortly before the State of the Union and got drowned out by the postgame. From Bayh to Nelson, as senators begin to realize that bipartisanship truly is impossible and reconciliation really is the only option, this is slowly moving in the right direction. I was wrong: maybe we really do have the 50 votes (plus Biden) we need.

Nelson dances and plays games to get as much out of the process for himself and his state as he can, and you can't blame him, that's his job. But at the end of the day, he'll probably be with us on this. Thank you, Senator. Now do the right thing and bring this home.

Speaking of reconciliation, here are two good myth-busting articles. Ezra Klein compares the cost of health care reform and the Bush tax cuts and calls out Lamar Alexander's hypocrisy, and NPR looks at past health care measures passed via reconciliation.

Thank You: Now With Your Help, We Will Take the Hill

After many long months Tennessee's primary election was held last night, and it is my great honor to be representing the Democratic Party as a candidate for the United States Senate. It would not have been possible without the thousands of people who have aided our cause, who recognized, as I did, that it is time for a change in Washington.

This is a march that I embarked upon, not alone, but with the support of countless Tennesseans, Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike. Our shared frustration with Washington's failure to solve our most pressing problems is what motivated to begin this campaign,  and it is my belief in our ability to correct course and change direction  that will take me through our campaign's final months.

There's more...

An Open Letter to Senator Lamar Alexander

Dear Senator Alexander,

I read your "Flat Tax" announcement and I have a few questions. But before I get to that, I want to look at a few key statistics about the state of our country since you went to Washington:

  • Almost 6 years in office
  • More than 4,034 Americans killed in Iraq and 29,628 wounded
  • $9 Trillion in debt loaded onto our children and grandchildren
  • Mortgages being foreclosed upon across America
  • Gas prices stuck at more than $3 a gallon - Almost 6 years of blind support for the failed policies of George Bush
  • Almost 6 years of silence and benign neglect on health care, education, the economy and energy prices

What a record! And now, in an election year, you propose a sweeping overhaul of the entire tax code via a press release as most Americans file their tax returns.

Perhaps you have been saving yourself for this moment.

Perhaps you have spent six years drafting this sweeping proposal and, only by coincidence, did you get finished with it on Tax Day of an election year.

Senator Alexander, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. I'm hoping that this is not a tawdry political stunt.

To put this perception to rest, I propose that you show us your budget for your new tax plan.

Show us how you fund our troops, care for our veterans, fully fund a sensible GI Bill and pay down the massive debt you've run up.

Show us how you will protect Social Security and Medicare.

Show us how the thousands Tennessee families keep homeowner exemptions at tax time.

Tell us what you would cut. Education? Health care? Social Security? Homeland Security? Student Loans? Corporate welfare for big oil companies?

Senator Alexander this is your chance to put me in my place. Prove to me this isn't an election year gimmick.

Better yet, let's schedule a public meeting to discuss it. Bring your plan. We will invite the media and have a calm chat about your plan.

I'm calling your bluff. I want to see your hole card.

Respectfully,

Bob Tuke

www.tukefortennessee.com

I'm in

I'm Bob Tuke and I'm running for Senate in the state of Tennessee. I'm a Marine veteran, lawyer, former Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, and Tennessee Political Director for Obama for America. I'm running to unseat Senator Lamar Alexander and bring change to Washington.

Tennessee deserves a leader who will deliver universal and affordable healthcare; a leader who will invest in alternative energy; a leader who will provide our armed services members with the equipment and services they deserve.

But I'm going to need your help to get there.

This election cycle is about change – and we can sweep new leadership into Washington, even in places where the punditry doesn't think it is possible. While this campaign will be a challenge, I'm in it to win.

I've been busy at work since I announced my candidacy last week – talking to Tennesseans, making phone calls, and holding events. There is an energy on the ground in Tennessee – an exuberance and realization that we don't have to settle for the same old kind of politics. The same fervor for change that is spreading nationally is also happening in Tennessee – and we can use this momentum to replace Senator Alexander.

I need your involvement in this race. I'll keep updating the community here on our progress, but please sign-up on my website at www.tukefortennessee.com and donate if you can.

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