Republicans Side with Wall Street Over Main Street, Again

After Republicans voted tonight to block debate on Wall Street reform in the Senate, Speaker Pelosi issued the following statement:

For more than a decade, Congressional Republicans failed to provide robust oversight of Wall Street, which crippled our financial system and resulted in 8 million jobs lost for America's workers. Tonight, Senate Democrats tried to begin debate on tough accountability and transparency for big banks and for Wall Street — but Republicans said no. Once again, they sided with Wall Street over Main Street.

Democrats in Congress are committed to reining in the excesses of Wall Street and standing with America's middle class. In December, the House passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which ends taxpayer-funded bailouts, unwinds so-called 'too big to fail' firms, requires that consumers get the information they need to make smart decisions, reforms executive pay, and holds the big banks and Wall Street accountable to American taxpayers.

Just as every Senate Republican did tonight, every House Republican sided with Wall Street and voted no in December.

While Congressional Republicans protect special interests and big banks, Democrats are fighting to protect consumers and small businesses. We must act now to restore responsibility to Wall Street.

Meanwhile, regional editorial boards from across the country are voicing support for Wall Street reform, and criticizing Republican attempts to delay the legislation and protect Big Banks:

Los Angeles Times, Time to get real on financial reform:

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are getting closer to striking a deal on a proposed overhaul of financial regulation…That’s the good news. Still in doubt, though, is how well lawmakers have learned the lessons of the Wall Street meltdown that sent the economy reeling in 2008. The Republicans’ rhetoric suggests that they cling to a revisionist view of that recent history, or that they remain in denial about the fundamental failure of the market to protect itself against the financial industry’s worst instincts.

…Both Republicans and Democrats recognize that the current financial regulatory system contributed to the latest Wall Street collapse. And neither side wants to have to vote for another bailout, so there are good political reasons for them to come to an agreement on a bill. But before the Senate can come up with a bipartisan plan for more effective regulation that punishes failure instead of coddling it, the GOP is going to have to acknowledge the gaps in oversight that led us to this point.

Des Moines Register, Transparency key to financial reform:

One Republican lawmaker insists reform would fund future bailouts – a charge that is more about tapping into public anger to build opposition to reform than it is about the truth.

The goal of reform is to tighten rules for capital, risk management and liquidity, to help ensure growing companies pose less risk to the financial system.

The legislation wouldn’t fund bailouts; it would help prevent the need for them in the future.

The Dallas Morning News, Editorial – Goldman makes case for financial reform:

Wall Street’s fraud and recklessness vaporized trillions in household wealth, and lawmakers have an obligation to restore practices limiting the dangers to both the global economy and taxpayers.

Goldman Sachs is the latest example of an out-of-control financial system in need of stronger regulations.

The Commercial Appeal, Editorial – Congress finds bipartisan gear:

Corker and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., worked like adults during the early development of the legislation. Corker wound up not supporting the final product but has refused to join in with colleagues who have been trashing the bill in a manner reminiscent of the distortions that clouded the health care reform debate.

While McConnell and other Republicans were describing the financial regulation legislation as a 'bailout bill,' although it is designed to avoid government bailouts, other senators, encouraged by Corker, have made moves that could turn the legislation into full-fledged bipartisan, voter-pleasing, landmark legislation.

The Star-Ledger, Bailout baloney: Opponents of banking reform bill distort the debate:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) had the right idea last Thursday when he said this about the differences between Republicans and Democrats on financial reform legislation: 'Let's act like adults and work 'em out.'

Over the past several days, you could almost see Corker biting his tongue as his party's Senate leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), went around saying the bill would institutionalize taxpayer bailouts of big Wall Street banks.

Democrat and Chronicle, Start Fixing Wall Street Now:

A procedural vote scheduled for today in the Senate should provide insight into just how far Republicans are willing to go to stop President Obama and Democrats in their efforts to overhaul regulation of Wall Street.

Though it’s indisputable that loose regulation led to the 2008 fiscal crisis, too many GOP lawmakers are balking at reform.

Their rationale? Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, for example, contends the proposed legislation would encourage future taxpayer-financed bailouts of big banks. Obama responded in his Wall Street speech last week, saying flatly: 'That is not true. A vote for reform is a vote to put a stop to taxpayer-funded bailouts.'

Nonetheless, GOP senators refused to begin debate on the reform bill last week. As a result, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to call the first procedural vote Monday to stop a seeming GOP filibuster. Reid is right to call for the vote. No more excuses. Let the debate begin.

For American workers, families and small businesses, the message is clear — Republicans are siding with Wall Street over Main Street every time. As President Obama said tonight, we can’t afford that:

I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted in a block against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these Senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether. But the American people can't afford that. A lack of consumer protections and a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly brought our economy to its knees, and helped cause the pain that has left millions of Americans without jobs and without homes. The reform that both parties have been working on for a year would prevent a crisis like this from happening again, and I urge the Senate to get back to work and put the interests of the country ahead of party.