GOP sees po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit in block­ing fi­nan­cial over­haul

de­spite ex­pected pas­sage, party will try to thwart bill

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Jim Kuhnhenn and Ann San­ner

WASHINGTON — Cast this de­bate as big banks ver­sus big govern­ment.

De­spite lin­ger­ing pub­lic anger at Wall Street, most con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans op­pose the tougher fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tions that Congress is ex­pected to send to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama this week.

The GOP is bet­ting that the bill’s am­bi­tious goals will be lost on vot­ers and in­stead feed an elec­tion-year nar­ra­tive that Democrats stand for big­ger, more in­tru­sive govern­ment.

Repub­li­cans are throw­ing up a fi­nal pro­ce­dural road­block to the bill to­day. The sweep­ing reg­u­la­tory over­haul is ex­pected to make it through with the min­i­mum of 60 votes. Three Repub­li­cans have voiced their sup­port.

Not too long ago, sen­a­tors from both par­ties imag­ined a bill with broad bi­par­ti­san sup­port that re­flected a con­sen­sus that the fi­nan­cial sec­tor needed a new set of rules. These days, though, Repub­li­cans liken the leg­is­la­tion to Obama’s health care leg­is­la­tion and the $862 bil­lion eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­age — two ini­tia­tives that have not ral­lied pub­lic sup­port.

“There’s a lot of fa­tigue on the part of the Amer­i­can peo­ple with re­gard to what they see as an overly ag­gres­sive power grab on so many dif­fer­ent fronts,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, head of the Na­tional Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­rial Com­mit­tee.

The bill still bears Repub­li­can fin­ger­prints. Se­nate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chris Dodd, D-Conn., ne­go­ti­ated sev­eral pro­vi­sions with key com­mit­tee Repub­li­cans such as Richard Shelby of Alabama and Bob Corker of Ten­nessee. Nei­ther, though, in­tends to vote for the bill.

Corker, in an in­ter­view, said he saw no po­lit­i­cal down­side to vot­ing against the bill.

“The rage that they have about Wall Street will still ex­ist — if they have it,” he said. “And now they will be highly dis­cour­aged, more dis­cour­aged, about our abil­ity to even deal with the core is­sues that cre­ated this prob­lem be­cause we don’t do that in this bill.”

Three Repub­li­cans voted for the bill last month in the House. In the Se­nate, Olympia Snowe and Su­san Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Mas­sachusetts are the only Repub­li­cans to an­nounce their sup­port.

“The oth­ers need to ex­plain why they don’t want us to move for­ward with fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tory re­form,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Wed­nes­day. “They have to ex­plain why they want to stand for the sta­tus quo, leave the laws as writ­ten and run the risk of an­other re­ces­sion and an­other day lead­ing to mil­lions of peo­ple los­ing their jobs and busi­nesses fail­ing.”

The 2,300-page leg­is­la­tion is a com­pli­cated, far-reach­ing piece of law­mak­ing that has un­folded while the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion has been more fixed on the econ­omy, the Gulf oil spill, even an old-fash­ioned Rus­sian spy swap.

In that en­vi­ron­ment, both par­ties are try­ing to fashion sim­ple sell­ing points.

The Democrats’ line: The bill reins in big banks and pro­tects con­sumers.

The Repub­li­cans’: The bill is a govern­ment over­reach, and it doesn’t help cre­ate jobs.

Repub­li­can op­er­a­tives think the com­plex­ity of the bill gives them an ad­van­tage.

“This bill, in the minds of most Amer­i­cans, is just a big amoeba,” said John Fee­hery, a Washington-based GOP strate­gist. “Be­cause this bill is so com­pli­cated, it makes it eas­ier for Repub­li­cans to op­pose it, and by op­pos­ing it, call it a job killer.”

Al­though pas­sage would mark a ma­jor achieve­ment for Obama, even Dodd con­cedes that the pub­lic must be per­suaded that it works to the ben­e­fit of av­er­age Amer­i­cans. Dodd in an in­ter­view wor­ried that the bank­ing bill could fol­low the path of health care, which he said will have longterm ben­e­fits but has be­come a short-term li­a­bil­ity.

“We’ve got a mar­ket­ing job to ex­plain ex­actly what we’ve done, to get out and talk about it — not just in a po­lit­i­cal con­text, but why it’s valu­able,” he said.

John Cornyn

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.