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Saturday Night News Roundup

I would like to reinforce and clarify my thoughts from the other day. I don’t think that any law restricting or regulating guns is going to be perfect. I think that thoughtful regulation should decrease the probability of mass shooting in the future. That’s it.

President George H. W. Bush is out of the ICU. No clue what was really wrong with him. I pray that he continues to improve.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) points out that we could follow Grover Norquist over the fiscal cliff.

Ed Markey has thrown his hat into the ring for John Kerry’s old Senate seat. He seems to have some growing support.

From Steve:

Assad is still losing friends: “Russia, Syria’s longtime ally, urged the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, on Friday to negotiate with his opponents as further signs emerged that Moscow and other international parties to the conflict were coalescing around the idea of a transitional government as a key to solving the nearly two-year-old Syrian crisis.”

Watering down an already watered down reform effort: “Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) on Friday unveiled a bipartisan proposal to change filibuster rules, a scaled back plan to prevent Democrats from using the so-called constitutional option to weaken the minority’s power.”

By |2012-12-31T22:15:35-04:00December 29th, 2012|Domestic Issues|Comments Off on Saturday Night News Roundup

Can Chris Dodd step to the plate and fix Wall Street before leaving the Senate?

From TP:

One question bouncing around news outlets today is what Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) retirement means for the regulatory reform effort. Does it make him more or less likely to compromise on key parts of the bill, including the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA)?

It’s hard to discern whether Dodd’s retirement will lead him to give in on a host of issues (as one “gleeful” financial services lobbyist told Politico it would) or compel him to put “it all on the line to get what he wants, bipartisanship be damned.”

But one thing is for certain: Dodd’s retirement means that the regulatory reform effort needs to wrap up this year, as Dodd’s likliest successor as chairman is Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), a very bank-friendly Democrat who would almost certainly produce a worse product. And this point hasn’t escaped Republicans, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out:

At the same time, [Dodd’s] decision gives Republicans the incentive to draw out the process until after next year’s elections when a more business-friendly Democrat could ascend to the banking panel’s chairmanship. Next in line on the committee is Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.), generally seen as more receptive to industry concerns.

According to Roll Call, “Senate Democrats said that no palace intrigue is expected to take place with the Banking panel” and that Johnson will take the gavel. So Republicans and the financial industry have ample motivation to gum up the works until Dodd is all the way out.

This same concern arose when it looked like Dodd might take the helm of the Senate HELP committee following the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Back then, Tim Fernholz wrote that “it would be bad news for regulatory reform if Johnson took over the [banking] committee; he’s received nearly a million dollars from the financial industry in the last 20 years.”

Johnson was the only Senate Democrat to vote against a credit card reform bill last year, and the banking industry has focused on him as one of the Democrats most likely to torpedo the CFPA. “No one is pro-industry today but he’s been historically very receptive,” said a top financial services lobbyist of Johnson. “He’s been sensitive to the impact of legislation on the financial service industry given the large number of jobs he represents.”

Even if Dodd gets a regulatory reform bill passed, as the investment research firm Concept Capital pointed out, Johnson’s chairmanship would likely result in other efforts to rein in banks going by the wayside. “His elevation to chairman should put to restworries over interchange and interest rate caps,” the firm wrote.

There is one note of good news amidst all this, however: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will be running for Dodd’s seat, and he has been a strong advocate for consumer financial protection.

By |2010-01-06T20:20:19-04:00January 6th, 2010|Economy, Party Politics, Senate|Comments Off on Can Chris Dodd step to the plate and fix Wall Street before leaving the Senate?

Exactly what are we fighting for… a public option?

When we first started talking about Healthcare Reform, I mentioned that I really, really supported a single payer (government run) program. If we provide the exact same healthcare services, we could save over $300 billion per year with a single payer system(although, I must admit, many people dispute this number). There would be significantly less administrative overhead. We would have the ability to direct funding into clinical research that would give physicians answers to the most important medical questions. What is the best drug for hypertension? Are drugs and exercise the best combination for a long life? How much exercise do you need in order to have cardiovascular benefit? We don’t have the answers to these questions.

Now, almost eight months later, we are bickering about a public option. We’re not even bickering about a strong public option. No healthcare plan that has been seriously debated in Congress covers all Americans. So this isn’t really healthcare reform. This is health insurance reform, sort of. Although this is much less than any progressive would’ve wanted, we have to push forward. We have to get something passed. We can’t go back to the American people in 2010 and say that we tried. That simply isn’t good enough. We have to pass some sort of meaningful healthcare legislation.

From DK (McJoan):

Progressive observers of the healthcare reform effort aren’t too heartened after the continuing recalcitrance of three ConservaDems and Joe Lieberman on healthcare reform, and the newfound willingness in leadership, as expressed by Dick Durbin to find a way to mollify them. The problem is, anything that works to make these guys happy isn’t going to be real reform.

Here’s Robert Reich:

But what more can possibly be compromised? Take away the word “public?” Make it available to only twelve people?

Our private, for-profit health insurance system, designed to fatten the profits of private health insurers and Big Pharma, is about to be turned over to … our private, for-profit health care system. Except that now private health insurers and Big Pharma will be getting some 30 million additional customers, paid for by the rest of us.

Upbeat policy wonks and political spinners who tend to see only portions of cups that are full will point out some good things: no pre-existing conditions, insurance exchanges, 30 million more Americans covered. But in reality, the cup is 90 percent empty. Most of us will remain stuck with little or no choice — dependent on private insurers who care only about the bottom line, who deny our claims, who charge us more and more for co-payments and deductibles, who bury us in forms, who don’t take our calls.

As I see it, the Democrats really have two other fights down the road and we need to win both of them if we are going to have any hope of holding on to Congress in 2010. Banking reform. Green jobs legislation. The Republicans and conservative Democrats will fight tooth and nail to make sure that this does not happen. So it is too early for us to get tired and frustrated by the legislative process. Unless we want to turn over Congress to the Republicans, we have to have more to show for our efforts. Let’s tighten our seatbelts, because it is definitely going to be… a bumpy ride.

By |2009-11-23T22:03:13-04:00November 23rd, 2009|Economy, Environment, Healthcare|Comments Off on Exactly what are we fighting for… a public option?
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