Does the Senate need collateral?
It may just be because I'm tired today, but I think the problems of the shadow-banking sector are actually an interesting way to think about Lindsey Graham (pictured) and the Democrats. Consider again the way that the institutional banking market works: I give you something of great value to me (100 million dollars) and you give me something of equivalent value as a guarantee that you won't take my money.
Now consider the problems of bipartisan cooperation in the Senate: The minority wants something of great value from the majority (major policy concessions and an effective veto over the legislation moving forward) but there's no collateral for the majority: Members of the minority do not pledge their vote in advance, and there's no assurance that substantive policy concessions that make the bill less popular will lead to minority support.
If Lindsey Graham had collateral -- eight Republicans willing to assure the Democrats that they'd vote for a bill blessed by Graham -- he could write his own ticket. There's no way that Democrats would cross Graham in that circumstance. But as it is, Graham has no collateral. Not even himself. He's already said he won't be the lone Republican to vote for the bill. So there's nothing keeping the Democrats’ investment safe. If they take on this politically difficult issue in a politically unfriendly environment, they may give a lot up and get nothing back. So they're balking.
Graham is attacking them for that, but his implied collateral -- Republican support for the climate bill, even if it's just his vote -- is not something he is able or willing to promise the Democrats if they take the risk of banking with him. And you see this on every issue these days: Democrats are willing to negotiate, but they eventually break off because the lone Republican in the room -- be it Snowe or Corker or Graham -- is asking them to take too much risk with not enough collateral.
Photo credit: By Melina Mara/The Washington Post
April 26, 2010; 4:22 PM ET
Categories: Climate Change
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