An Update on Financial Reform Legislative Shenanigans

Update: The bill passed, 59-39. Next stop will be the conference committee, where a manager's amendment along with other modifications are possible.

Update: Republicans blocked the Merkley-Levin amendment. The amendment which would have stopped proprietary trading with taxpayers, account holders money. Nasdaq News:

Two of the most anxiously awaited amendments to the U.S. Senate's financial-overhaul bill will not get votes after Republicans maneuvered to kill a controversial plan to sharply curb a lucrative Wall Street trading business.

As the endgame on the bill drew close, Republican leaders convinced U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) to withdraw his hot-button amendment that would have excluded auto dealers from oversight by the new consumer watchdog created by the bill.

Brownback's move effectively squashed a second, contentious amendment that had been attached, for strategic reason, to the Brownback amendment. The second amendment--hotly opposed by Wall Street--would have banned most banks from using their own capital to make market bets, so-called proprietary trading.

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.) and Carl Levin (D., Mich.), the proprietary trading measure's sponsors, blasted the GOP move to kill their amendment, accusing them of doing the bidding of Wall Street. They said they had the votes to pass the amendment and that's why Republicans moved to kill it.

Update: The Merkley amendment, a.k.a., the Volcker Rule, attached to the exempt autos from consumer protection, will be allowed a vote. This is after cloture, which passed. Currently Shelby, the Republican minority chair of the Senate banking committee is saying he will vote for this amendment. More as I decipher encrypted Senate rules.

Senator Jeff Merkley asks a very good question. Why is Wall Street and not Main Street winning in the U.S. Senate?



Merkley was holding out to establish the Volcker rule. Ok, this is weird. The vote to invoke cloture, which also is a vote to end debate and thus stop more amendments to the financial reform bill, failed. Here is the vote.

Notice on that list those who voted for cloture are the few Senators who are honestly fighting for real reform, for America, including Jeff Merkley and Byron Dorgan.

So, why would they want to end debate? So why the great speech yet vote to end debate and amendments, thus ensuring the Volcker rule never sees the light of day? We know it has major loopholes, does nothing about too big to fail, does not separate out commercial from investment banking and the derivatives reform bill has no consequence. Cloture hold out Senator Maria Cantwell:

Ms. Cantwell, in a floor speech after the vote, said she was mainly fighting for a vote on an amendment to tighten proposed rules for the trading of derivatives, the complex instruments that were at the center of the economic crisis.

Her proposal would make it illegal to enter into a derivatives contract that had not been cleared through an exchange, other than contracts specifically exempt from the law. It would also empower regulators and investors to stop or undo a derivatives deal if banks knowingly violated the trading requirements.

Without her amendment, Ms. Cantwell said the legislation would be left with a dangerous loophole.

She is also holding out to pass Glass-Steagall.

Now it gets weirder. Senator Dodd, in response to the failed cloture vote, then asked to let the Senate vote on Cantwell's derivatives amendment, upon which Manager amendment co-author, Republican Shelby objected and wouldn't allow the vote on the amendment.

Gets even weirder. The Whitehouse amendment to put a cap on interest rates on credit cards failed, 60-35.

So, it's kind of like we have revolving bad guys in the Senate. I'm positive the American people could care less who is to blame. From the recent elections, it's pretty clear they will throw out anybody who is busy voting for the Banks and Corporations and not for America.

Below is a Dylan Ratigan segment with Senator Bernie Sanders calling the United States an oligarchy. Ya got that right. Only the worse financial disaster since the great Depression and these cats are playing political games. The thing is, if the banks had simply been allowed to fail, they wouldn't have any money to buy off our Congress.



There will be another vote tomorrow to end debate and pass the bill. Can anyone explain to me why we have great speeches, yet refusal to fix this bill now and pass yet another bill that doesn't do the job?

I hope I just do not understand Senate procedural rules and somehow, someway after cloture this bill is fixed. Alas, I don't think it's so and in fact we have a half-baked at best Senate Financial Reform bill that surely will be gutted further with a managers amendment and a Conference Committee.



supposedly another derivatives loophole plug is dead

That was to clearly define what makes up a trading facility. Paul Volcker came out in support of.....(drum roll please)...the Volcker rule, trying to be introduced by Jeff Merkley (who then voted for cloture, so...).

Bear in mind folks legislation and it's process is like watching table tennis. It moves very quickly and it seems, at least any bill I've tracked on, there are always last minute, no one has read them 1000 page modifications done very quickly at the end which negate the more publicized changes. So, unless someone is a staffer for Chris Dodd or Harry Reid, doing a live blog or twittering their brains out, the news will always lag what's really going on. That's the bill details, ya know, the stuff that matters.

supposedly they will pass cloture today, 2:30pm EST


I'll update this post and eventually, when the dust settles, try to overview what the final sausage is.

CNBC is claiming they will "fix", i.e. strip out Lincoln amend.

In other words, as warned about, they are going to gut the bill in conference committee, even though it's still currently swiss cheese in the Senate, that's not good enough for the Banksters and they are going to gun for more Swiss cheese, targeting derivatives especially, in conference committee.

If you want to scream, do it now. It's just unbelievable that our government would not enact, immediately major reforms considering what has happened.

Cloture passed

There is goes. I have no idea why derivatives reform and the Volcker rule are still being discussed. The Banksters won from what I can see and the best we can hope for is they do not water it down further, which is a pipe dream.

Sanders and Franken

Probably the two most honest elected officials in the Senate.

The House is much more representative of voters but they have their own issues.

I'll blame the seniority/committee system

I haven't tallied up the number of Senators who wanted to actually reform Wall Street genuinely, but I'll blame the committee/seniority system as well as Dem leadership.

I noticed Cantwell/Feingold voted no on the bill.

But Dodd, why was he even allowed to chair the Senate finance committee with his ties to Wall Street so well known there was no way he could even win an election?

Why did Harry Reid ram through yet another bill so they can go home during the weekend? This is the biggest thing to hit the economy since the great depression and now the U.S. is under crippling debt, the middle class even more screwed and that's what they do?

To me, I have to take actions by Congressional reps. amendment by amendment, bill by bill, vote by vote. It never ceases to amaze me the rhetoric vs. what they actually do, so often just not based in sound economics/statistics either.

Dodd Is a Schill

As soon as I heard he wasn't running again I knew he had sold out completely.

The whole place is run by lobbyists.

Patrick Kennedy isn't running again but said he was keeping his campaign donations in case he wanted to run for Senate. He is dead in the water can't ever win again but he is keeping the money. That says it all.

It is all about the money for 80% of these bums.

Is this true Argentina seizure of private funds

If the news media reported the Argentina seizure of private funds last October it didn't get much bang.

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Argentina's center-left President Cristina Fernandez on Tuesday signed a bill for a government takeover of the $30 billion private pension system in a daring and unexpected move that rocked domestic markets.

Labor leaders and lawmakers from the ruling Peronist party and some opposition groups applauded the nationalization as a way to guarantee pensions at a time of global market turmoil.

But the surprise move unnerved investors and sent Argentine stock and bond prices into freefall."

From a UK paper.........

"It is a foretaste of what may happen across the world as governments discover that tax revenue, and discover that the bond markets are unwilling to plug the gap. The G7 states are already acquiring an unhealthy taste for the arbitrary seizure of private property, I notice.

Here is a link from La Nacion and another from El Pais for Spanish speakers"

I wonder, is the USA far behind? Maybe it is time to cash in my private stuff and hide it in my mattress.


In February, the White House released its “Annual Report on the Middle Class” containing new regulations favored a bailout of critically underfunded union pension plans through “retirement security” options.

The radical solution is the seizure of private 401(k) plans for government disbursement.

Vice President Joe Biden floated the idea, called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” (GRAs), in the February “Middle Class” report.

don't flip out

I believe that's because the Banksters were using private funds to gamble and thus LOSING those retirement funds. This has been a huge problem in that private retirement (i.e. 401ks) are losing money due to stock market fluctuations and for profit, private interests gambling with it. We had a major problem in the U.S. with many pension funds short, much of it due to losses in the stock market.

When you see "government" you distrust, but perhaps one needs to see "Banksters" and have a similar distrust. Not saying that our current government is too trustworthy, but assuredly the Banksters are not!

I made 23% last year in something that

once I earn the money, I can never loose it.

Oh believe me I don't trust either. I loved watching the late George Carlin. A few of his sayings...

"Capitalism tries for a delicate balance: It attempts to work things out so that everyone gets just enough stuff to keep them from getting violent and trying to take other people’s stuff."

"Never trust government"

"The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and “Thou shalt not lie” in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. "

"You can’t fight City Hall, but you can goddamn sure blow it up."

I bet the previous quote would have gotten ole George in trouble these days.

In 1987, I promised over the air, on a small AM station that eventually you will see the banks (with the help of government) have great power in the economy. Powers unheard of in previous times.

I can't tell the difference in trust between the two. One takes by force, the other through deception and sometimes they trade sides.

Was there a Middle class Report and talk about Guaranteed Retirement Accounts?

I don't know? Apparently the pension funds had almost constant growth "had an almost constant growth trend in the 14 years of its existence" and economists said, "Economists said more than $4 billion a year in contributions to pension funds would ease government financing needs in 2009, when the government faces mid-term elections. Public spending has historically risen in election years."

So if indeed they had almost constant growth and if indeed the pension money in the hands of government eased financing needs, my non-trusting antenna is raised high in the air.

But doesn't it seem that the countries down in that part of the world are always in some kind of turmoil.

BTW, the site seems to be working ok. Ya getting all the kinks out of it?

well, pensions is something we need to cover more

been buried in "financial reform". On the site, I need people to report errors to me. I just found one but what I really want to know about beyond usability is page load times.

No Chinese Child Left Behind

Billary and their foundation have given us the sweet picture of Chinese children getting a school uplift by
Corporate America. The same companies who have shifted our jobs to China now want to help China vault further over the next generation of U.S. kids.

You say that the ruling class is increasing its power. Fine. I say that they lose their grip on a daily basis.
This is the stuff of which revolutions are made. All of this is in a backdrop of American school districts
struggling to avoid teacher layoffs and high taxes.

Clinton Sees House She Helped Build at China Expo
New York Times:
SHANGHAI — By all accounts, the United States would have been a no-show at the Shanghai Expo had Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton not opened her Rolodex and raised about $60 million in private cash to finance a pavilion here. So it seemed fair that Mrs. Clinton got a rousing cheer from a group of Chinese children when she visited the building on Saturday.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Pavilion of the World Expo in Shanghai. More Photos »
But the house that Hillary built is unmistakably the house that corporate America paid for.

After touring the pavilion — with its Citibank- and Pfizer-sponsored theaters, gauzy eight-minute videos featuring representatives from Chevron, General Electric, and Johnson & Johnson, environmentally friendly features sponsored by Alcoa, and a gift shop with licensed merchandise from Disney — Mrs. Clinton seemed less inspired than relieved that the project was done.

“It’s fine,” she said to a reporter asking her what she thought of the pavilion. “Can you imagine if we had not been here?”

With its gunmetal-gray walls and convention-center aesthetics, the pavilion hardly stands out in a fairground studded by beguiling structures like Britain’s Seed Cathedral, a cube with 60,000 sprouting transparent rods that make it look like a dandelion ready to be scattered to the winds.

Still, the American organizers say the pavilion has drawn long lines and 700,000 visitors since the Expo opened May 1, which attests either to the enduring attraction of the United States or the wisdom of Woody Allen’s observation that 80 percent of success is showing up.

For Mrs. Clinton, scratching together the money for the project was a simple matter of avoiding a diplomatic snub. The Chinese government spent $45 billion buffing up this glamorous but gritty metropolis to play host to a world’s fair, and it is treating the six-month-long event with almost the same importance it attached to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

America’s participation was in jeopardy because Congress restricts the spending of public money on world’s fairs, and under the Bush administration, the project had virtually no private financing. On Mrs. Clinton’s first visit as secretary of state last year, Chinese officials implored her to do something.

“It’s like a coming-out party for countries and cities,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to world’s fairs of the last century in Chicago and St. Louis. “There’s a real historical significance to this.”

To avoid violating federal rules, Mrs. Clinton assigned most of the one-on-one fund-raising to two longtime Clinton fund-raisers: Elizabeth F. Bagley and Jose H. Villarreal, both of whom were on hand.

As she walked in this morning, Mrs. Clinton greeted Indra K. Nooyi, the chief executive of PepsiCo, and senior executives from Chevron, Johnson & Johnson, and General Electric, each of which kicked in $5 million. She met major sponsors again at a dinner on Saturday night.

Mrs. Clinton also toured China’s pavilion, a monumental deep-red building with a traditional Chinese inverted roof. “It would have to be very big to fit all the provinces of China in it,” she told Shanghai’s mayor, Han Zheng, who thanked her for making sure the United States had a presence.

Nearly 200 countries are represented at the Expo, which stretches along both banks of the Huangpu River. Two countries branded as rogue nations, Iran and North Korea, are conveniently located next to each other.

Among the North Korean attractions is a video of a rocket launching intercut with pictures of children in a classroom.

Iran has gathered examples of its technology, including a primitive satellite and a stuffed goat, which was identified as the country’s first cloned goat. “Only a few countries such as the U.S., U.K., Canada, and China have a cloned goat in their list of achievements,” a placard said.

Neither country made any mention of its nuclear program, which in both cases is fueling tension with their neighbors and the United States. But then, the U.S.A. Pavilion does not mention the American political system, the Constitution or the founding fathers.

Instead, visitors are treated to a video of Americans struggling to speak Chinese, testimonials about sustainable energy, water conservation, and family values — each presented by a corporate sponsor with interest in those areas — followed by a video about a young girl planting a garden in a garbage-strewn lot. At one point, the seats shake and the audience is sprayed with mist.

The highlight at the pavilion is 70 student ambassadors, drawn from universities around the United States, who speak fluent Mandarin, and entertain the long lines of visitors.

Franklin L. Lavin, a former American ambassador to Singapore who is the chairman of the pavilion’s steering committee, said the organizers stayed clear of messages about free speech or democratic institutions in favor of the simple virtues of civic-mindedness.

“We wanted to talk about what works in American society, not what doesn’t work in other societies,” Mr. Lavin said.
A version of this article appeared in print on May 23, 2010, on page A10 of the New York edition.

Burton Leed

admin: request on content

It's a copyright violation to repost entire articles, which can get this site into trouble. You can quote a section of an article and then link to the original article. (in the user guide is information on how to format a URL).

On the topic, yeah, there are a host of activities which go on where they raise money in some other country and China? Come on, they are about to exceed the U.S. as the world's largest economy so somehow I don't think they need help here in funding education in comparison to the United States. Not saying there isn't major global poverty and so on, but the thing that bothers me is how they completely ignore the poverty and needs right here in the United States. You've got funds helping a child in some other country, ok, obviously abject poverty, but that ignores the fact you can find a similar child sitting in the U.S. in some slum. We have massive hunger going on in the U.S., schools are not educating these kids, they do not have clothes or access to educational materials, list goes on and on, but the biggest things are food, clothing, shelter at the moment.


"DARE TO HOPE" was the rallying call,and like minute-men we jumped to the polling places,partly out of disgust with the last administration (bush) partly because we believed that this man was concerned,intelligent and capable of,at least pointing this country in the right direction,but alas my "hopes" are being dashed on the rocks of despair. If I had one thing to yell on the highest mountain, "YOU ARE FAILING US MR. PRESIDENT!" Why is the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION so silent about financial reform? Why is the OBAMA ADMIN. against the,albeit audit of the FEDERAL RESERVE? Could you tell me why Senator Merckel and Levine are/were trying to get out of committee precious amendments that would give "hope" to REAL financial reform,the WHITE HOUSE is silent? Did you not promise to move on after the diluted HEALTHCARE REFORM bill and "tackle", in your words, FINANCIAL REFORM? IS THIS THE LEGACY YOU WANT TO LEAVE? What was wrong with the GLASS-STEAGAL ACT,MR. PRESIDENT? Do six banks run AMERICA? ARE WE AN OLIGARCHY? ARE YOU GOING TO SIGN INTO LAW THIS FINANCIAL BILL (it's not reform)? AT EXACTLY WHAT POINT DID YOU SELL OUT?

Leo Marquez

are you a little poed?

Just a bit? I have no idea why the "Progressive" community believed Obama was one. I think it was desperation, which slipped into hysteria and denial because there was no viable candidate who was interested in doing the right thing across the policy board.

People Heard 'Change' Not the Details

Meanwhile the Libor spreads are widening again. Thats something the news hasn't really focused on since the Fall of 08' meaning something is happening with liquidity and the credit markets.

It did mean credit was tight but this time around the media is pointing more to various austerity programs and Zero Hedge is saying there is some fraud going on with UBS and the ECB.

Also the US is being bundled in blurbs with Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece, the UK and Japan for debt problems. Wait till the Freddie and Fannie bail out costs come to light. It doesn't matter who is to blame but the markets and credit markets are not going to go for some huge new debt for the gov here.

Roubini is recommending moving funds to short term government bonds in countries with good balance sheets such as Germany and Canada. He may be alarmist but he has huge credibility these days.

Hang onto your shorts literally if there is any bad news on late Friday or over the long weekend.
Tuesday will be a fire sale if so.

I see more than a double dip around the corner.

TED spread tighting

too. You ain't kidding about ticking time bombs Freddie Fannie and on this score it seems it's another "bi-partisan" agreement by all who are not bought and paid fors.

Jim, you write some very informative comments. I'm of course hacking away and the never ending site upgrades which becomes as obsessive as some sort of video game at this point and I'm hoping to put some sort of section which highlights super cool comments.