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Politico Conducts Poll of One Liberal Irked by Feingold on Financial Reform; Most Liberals Irked at Politico

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI)

According to Politico’s Carrie Budoff Brown, Russ Feingold’s defiance on the so-called financial reform bill irks liberals. She even finds one liberal to say how irked he his. That’s right, one (1) irked liberal, and he doesn’t claim to speak for all liberals.

Progressives figured the Wisconsin Democrat would be first in line to sign on to the financial regulatory overhaul. Instead, he’s been stubbornly, defiantly opposed to the legislation — Feingold calls it a cave-in to Wall Street — almost single-handedly delaying the final vote and denying, at least temporarily, President Barack Obama’s second legislative triumph.

But what really galls some on the left is that Feingold’s resistance opened the door for deal making — and Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown walked right through, making Brown the kingmaker on the bill that many on the left thought Feingold could have been.

“If he had said loudly and clearly during recent conference negotiations that he’d vote yes if, and only if, the strongest version of the Lincoln proposal and ‘Volcker rule’ were in the final bill, it would have made Scott Brown irrelevant and dramatically changed the negotiations,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, referring to Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives crackdown and former Fed chief Paul Volcker’s limits on risky bank investments.

So what has Feingold done to irk all of us liberals? Uh, well, he basically said the financial reform bill is a sham because it purports to “reform” the financial sector but doesn’t.

The irksome Russ seems to believe the bill purports to rein in risky derivatives trading but instead creates too many loopholes, purports to deal with the most irresponsible financial institutions but leaves them largely untouched, doesn’t break them up or force them to become smaller. He thinks it purports to establish mechanisms that will prevent another financial crisis but fails to do that, and that it purports to shield taxpayers and government guarantors from further subsidizing the riskiest financial trading, but in fact doesn’t go nearly far enough in returning us to the protections of Glass-Steagall.

Shame on Russ for not accepting these shams. Shame on him for forcing the Democratic Leadership and the White House to kow tow to the unprincipled Scott Brown and accepting his argument that wealthy hedge funds in Massachusetts should be exempt and banks should not be taxed to pay for their own regulation. If it hadn’t been for Russ, the entire New York Democratic delegation would never have been forced to gut restrictions on their financial institution campaign contributors.  . . .

But I want to express my special thanks to Carrie Budoff Brown for informing me that if I want to know what I think, I should ask Adam Green. I’ve actually met him, nice fellow, smart — but he never calls, so he just doesn’t know enough to speak for me and so has never claimed that he speaks for me.

I don’t have a problem that Adam thinks Russ could be more effective, but if the measure of being effective is getting progressive ideas into a “reform” bill that the American people would support, I think I’d point my cannons at (1) the entire Republican Party, (2) the White House and (3) the Democratic leadership that consistently failed to support liberal amendments by Kaufman, Brown, Levin, et al and rejected Russ Feingold’s amendments to strengthen the bill.

When I look at this bill I see one very good thing: it’s possible Liz Warren will get an appointment inside the government, heading a new consumer protection agency, and then she’ll make life miserable for everyone who needs a good thrashing, including the rest of the Administration. That’s our best hope. [oops, I spoke too soon]

Otherwise, you can judge the merits of the “reform” bill with a few “liberal” questions.

1. Did the people who were in charge then, and are still in charge of the economy and financial sector now, have sufficient authority to stop and/or ameliorate the last financial crisis? Yes.

2. Does the bill require that these people, or those who still think like them, be replaced? No. Does it force restrictions on their ability to look the other away again? Mostly no.

3. As a result of the “reform” bill, will there be a significant decrease in the portion of the GDP and corporate profits attributable to the financial sector? No. Will it help redirect resources to more productive sectors of the real economy? No.

4. Does the bill dramatically reduce the moral hazards prevalent in the financial sector? No. Does it force TBTF banks to get smaller? No. Return to Glass Steagall? No.

5. Does the bill do anything to restore the rule of law to a sector that was and still is functioning under a massive crime wave of fraud and looting? No. Does it loosen preemption and re-empower states to go after mortgage-related securities and credit fraud? No.

6. Does the bill force regulators and legislators to recuse themselves from voting for and lobbying on behalf of the financial industry? No.

7. Does the bill do anything to close or delay the outrageous revolving door between the financial industry and the people in government who write the rules and regulate them? No.

But shame on Russ Feingold for not voting for this sham “reform.”

John Chandley, irked liberal

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley