Banking Reform

Stayed up way too late watching the Senate banking committee debate resolutions to correlate the language of the House and Senate banking bills.  Finally went to bed at 1:30 AM MDT, and they were still going at it in Washington, where it was 3:30 AM.  Although pundits like to describe political conflict as a disagreement along party lines, there are other subtler alliances that cross party lines.  Democratic members of the 12 person Senate conference who were on the Banking Committee would align with banking members of the Republican Party on an amendment vote, while Democratic members on the Agricultural (Ag) Committee would align with a ranking member of the Ag who was a Republican, thus creating a difference in approach between Banking members and Ag members, regardless of party.

CNN money has a good summary of the reform bill that will probably go before the full House and Senate before July 4th.   Although proprietary derivatives trading restrictions on Wall Street firms was included in the bill, a 3% provision was included in the language, allowing these firms to trade derivatives as long as it does not exceed 3% of their capital, which most firms except for Goldman Sachs will not exceed.

What surprised me is the lucidity of members of the Senate at that time in the early morning, having spent 18 hours debating various language and amendments.  To pull an “all-nighter” at 20 years old is one thing – many of these Senators are in their fifties, sixties and seventies.  Very impressive.  What befuddles an ordinary person like myself is why, after 18 months of wrangling over the development of the bills’ language, does it have to come down to an endurance test?  The lawmaking process in a democratic republic is messy, almost as ugly as open abdominal surgery – and many of these lawmakers probably felt like MASH surgeons this morning as the sun came up.

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