Saturday, January 16, 2021
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Mark Warner on Wall Street Reform Becoming Law

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Nice work by Senator Warner on this one -- yet another major achievement by Democrats and by President Obama!

You Can’t Please ‘Em, No Matter What You Do

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It seems that just about everyone has some gripe about President Barack Obama. Many of us on the left say that he hasn't been progressive enough. Those on the right - the ones who actually are conservatives - moan that he has enlarged the size of the federal government far too much. The wingnut fringe standing on the right edge of their flat earth - including the Tea Pots - spout vitriolic steam about how he must be some sort of fascist or communist, all the while screaming that, no, they are not racist.

So, what have President Obama and the Democrats in Congress managed to accomplish in the face of negative votes by the Party of No and in spite of archaic Senate filibuster rules being abused by the GOP and even with a campaign finance system that puts a price tag on members of Congress? Let's make a list.

1. Fair Pay Act. Done. 2. Recovery Act. Done 3. Credit Card Reform. Done 4. Health Care Reform. Done. 5. Student Loan Reform. Done 6. Financial Regulation Reform. Done.

I personally think the gentleman has earned this weekend at Acadia National Park. I don't even blame him for BP's negligence that has given us the greatest natural disaster in my lifetime. I lay that in the lap of previous administrations that made a mockery of regulatory oversight.

Another Major Accomplishment for President Obama and the Democrats

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Of course, there will always be people - I believe they're called "Republicans" - who won't give President Obama and the Democrats any credit for anything.  Despite that, this is yet another major accomplishment, in addition to all of these, by the 111th Congress and the Obama White House. Now, on to comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, plus comprehensive immigration reform, and this will go down in history as one of the greatest 2-year periods of legislative accomplishment in U.S. history.  See what happens when Democrats "grab a mop" to clean up the mess the Republicans made before we booted them out of office?

Mark Warner: Financial Reform Bill is “Just Right for the American...

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Mark Warner: "It was a little like the Goldilocks example yesterday; some guys saying this bill's too soft on the banks, we had other folks saying this bill's too hard on the banks, so maybe it's just right for the American people because it kind of makes both ends a little bit upset."

UPDATE 2:55 pm: The Senate just voted, 60-40, for cloture on the financial reform bill.  Three Republicans - Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins - voted yes, while two Democrats - Maria Cantwell and Russ Feingold - voted no.

UPDATE 9:02 pm: Financial reform passes, 69-39, in another major victory for President Obama. This guy's quickly becoming LBJ in terms of legislation passed and signed!

Sen. Warner, Please Support the Merkley-Levin Amendment

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As early as today, the U.S. Senate will be voting on something called the "Merkley-Levin amendment" (see here for a fact sheet). As the Coffee Party writes, "This critical amendment would ensure that Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs don't get a government guarantee when they make huge, risky bets in the markets, and it would stop banks from engaging in Goldman-Sachs-style bets against their own clients."  

Essentially, Merkley-Levin expands and codifies the Volcker rule, by  banning financial institutions which borrow using the Federal Reserve's discount window from using those funds for proprietary trading (aka "in-house hedge funds"). In addition, it addresses the conflict of interest between securities underwriters and in-house traders, getting at the heart of SEC and DOJ accusations against Goldman Sachs.

Predictably, Wall Street has lobbyists swarming over Capitol Hill trying to kill this amendment, leaving the pro-reform people badly outgunned.  That's why it's important you call Sen. Warner's office today, at 202-224-2023, and request that he vote "yes" on Merkley-Levin. As you can see from this whip count, Jim Webb supports the Merkley-Levin amendment, but Mark Warner is (unfortunately) "leaning no."  Let's see what we can do to move Warner from "leaning no" to "leaning yes" today.  Thanks.

Jim Webb Makes The Case for Financial Reform

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Check out the Augusta Free Press to read Jim Webb's "case for financial reform."  Here's the intro:
In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy - that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. That focus has been lost, as many on Wall Street have accumulated vast wealth while the middle class falls steadily behind. When regions of Virginia are experiencing more than 21 percent unemployment and so many working Americans continue to struggle in this economy, it is only just that our leaders protect the interests of America's working people.

The reckless practices on Wall Street that led to the financial meltdown were unfair to the average worker and risked the United States' economic position in the world. The regulatory structure in place failed to protect both our financial system and the U.S. taxpayer. We must act to prevent another financial crisis and future bailouts. Americans need a reformed financial system that puts their homes and retirements before Wall Street bonuses.

The Senate is now considering a financial reform bill, which could be an important step forward in reining in some of the worst abuses of recent years and bringing enhanced oversight and transparency to our financial system. However, it could be improved in a number of areas.

Jim Webb, ever the Jacksonian economic populist. In fact, the first conversation I ever had with Webb was largely about Jacksonian Democracy. As a U.S. Senator, Webb doesn't appear to have changed his belief that "we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base" one iota. I'm glad to see that.

Webb vs. Bloomberg on Taxpayer Fairness Act

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According to Senator Webb's office, NY City Mayor Bloomberg is urging the NY Congressional delegation to vote no on Webb's Taxpayer Fairness Act.  According to Bloomberg, this bill (which "puts a one-time windfall tax on 2009 bonuses above $400,000 paid to executives of financial institutions that received $5 billion or more in taxpayer support from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) or the or the Housing and Economic Recovery Act 2008") is "unfair...to New York" and would "badly... hurt at a time when we can least afford to lose jobs and tax revenue." Here's Webb's response:
This is a carefully drafted, one-shot amendment, directed only to a small group of firms that received more than five billion dollars of bailout money. Its purpose is to give American taxpayers an upside in the recovery of our economic system, which became possible only because their tax dollars saved it. Scholars from across the philosophical spectrum agree: as a matter of equity, the rewards should be shared with the taxpayers who made it possible.

It's ironic that the very people who caused this economic meltdown now believe they should receive billions in bonus payments that were made possible only because our taxpayers were required to save the economy from their errors in judgment. Some of these taxpayers don't even own stocks.

Nor is this an attack on New York City. In fact, two of the largest firms that would be affected -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are located in Washington, DC and Virginia.

When regions of Virginia are experiencing more than 21% unemployment and the struggling economy is hurting so many working Americans, it is only just that America's working people feel that they also are being looked after by our leaders.