Reid wins cloture on FinReg. But at what cost?
The final vote was 60 to 40. Sen. Arlen Specter is back, which gave Democrats one more "aye" then they had yesterday, and Scott Brown flipped to support Harry Reid, joining fellow Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. That put the Democrats over the top. But not in the right way.
Brown's objection was that he wanted mutual funds, insurers, trusts and a couple other types of financial institutions that have powerful presences in Massachusetts exempted from many of the bill's provisions, particularly the Volcker rule. His vote today implied that assurances have been made. But the end policy here is not a particularly good one: It creates another place in the system where risks can migrate, and though the systemic regulator could step in if it sees things getting out of control, there's no assurance that it will step in. Meanwhile, Maria Cantwell was pushing for enforceable language on derivatives, and her concerns still haven't been met. So getting to the finish line here took the form of freeing financial institutions from regulations rather than making the bill stronger.
Meanwhile, I'm a bit curious as to where Cantwell's friends were on this one. There've been a bunch of Democrats who've argued that this bill needs to be stronger. Think Jeff Merkley, Carl Levin, Ted Kaufman, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, just for starters. But they didn't back Cantwell and Russ Feingold in their demands for further improvements. Party discipline isn't dead, I guess.
Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
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