Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spot the Tell
With both houses of Congress having passed financial reform legislation, the measure now goes to conference so the bills can be reconciled before a final vote. Here are the Senators who will join that meeting:

In a tweet, the Senate Dems said the conferees will include Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bob Corker (R-TN), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

Schumer represents New York, home to all the big banks who did so much to fuck the economy (and remain staunchly unapologetic and ungrateful for the money we gave them in the process of unfucking it). He's the biggest recipient, by far, of Wall Street money; he's not going to be strong for reform. Johnson hails from South Dakota, which you'll recognize as the state from which much of your credit card-related correspondence originates; Carper comes from Delaware, among the most corporate-friendly states in the union. In which direction would you expect them to push the measure?

Not among the conference participants are Russ Feingold, Maria Cantwell and Bernie Sanders, all of whom were critical of the bill from the left (Sanders ultimately voted for the measure, where Feingold and Cantwell did not). Also not included is Senate Whip Dick Durbin, Schumer's likely rival for the Democratic leadership if Harry Reid loses in November; Durbin famously said of Congress last year, in the depths of the downturn, that banks "frankly own the place."

Again, these are the Democrats. Perhaps it's fear of all that Wall Street money, freed by the Citizens United decision of constraints or limitations on its use, supporting Republicans in the fall. Maybe it's that they really do share a perspective with the finance sector; perhaps it's that the Obama administration, ever solicitous of an industry that's come to despise them, insists on the kid glove treatment in fear that the market will plummet again. To be fair, it seems entirely plausible that the banks will tank the economy in the short term to get people more sympathetic to their interests--difficult as that is to imagine--in power; concerned above all with self-preservation, the Democrats surely are looking to avoid that fate while giving the appearance of having done something.

Who knows--but in any event, this is why so many of us who worked hard and dug deep to put this president and this Congress in power likely will be sitting on our hands this November.

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