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Dems Still Working On Health Care Consensus

Senate Dems meet, reach no conclusions. NYT: “[Sen. Bernie Sanders] told Mr. Baucus that more than 60 percent of the public and more than 80 percent of Democrats supported creation of a public insurance plan. ‘It’s difficult to understand why we can’t give the American people what they want,’ Mr. Sanders said.” More from Politico.

LA Times notes Sens. Lieberman, Nelson and Landrieu are playing hard to get.

W. Post suggests Sen. Maj. Leader Reid is working to get GOPers Collins and Voinovich.

Final whip count in the House, reports The Hill: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday told fellow Democrats the time has come for all members of the party to say where they stand on the government-run health insurance program.”

HCAN cites new Maine poll showing big support for public option.

New Rules on Derivatives Advance

W. Post on House cmte vote on derivatives reform. “The vote Thursday by the House Financial Services Committee, largely along party lines, endorsed a central plank of the administration’s plan for new regulations aimed at preventing another financial calamity. But the measure still faces a long road. The House Agriculture Committee, which also has oversight of derivatives, will vote on and quite possibly amend the proposal, and the full House and Senate must act, too. The regulators that would be in charge of policing the derivatives market — the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — hailed the passage of the legislation even as agency officials continued to voice concerns about whether it goes far enough.”

LA Times: “…some critics said the new rules wouldn’t be strong enough to prevent crises, in part because they would exempt too many derivatives deals from transparency requirements. The legislation still faces changes in the House and Senate, which are under pressure from banks and other businesses to limit the new oversight. ‘There is progress on some important issues in this legislation, but it doesn’t begin to fulfill the promise that was made that we’re going to get comprehensive reform in the derivatives market’ said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection for the Consumer Federation of America … Roper said she was disappointed that the bill would exempt many derivatives deals from the requirement to go through clearinghouses and exchanges. Only transactions between dealers and large market participants would be covered. [Rep. Barney] Frank said he was convinced that some deals should continue outside of clearinghouses and exchanges. Those would involve companies that provide goods or services and use derivatives to limit risk, such as airlines that hedge against fuel increases.”

Cmte turns to consumer protection agency, exempts small banks from new regulator. NYT: “Bowing to political pressure from community bankers, the House Financial Services Committee approved an exemption on Thursday for more than 98 percent of the nation’s banks from oversight by [the proposed] new agency … those institutions control only about 20 percent of the roughly $14 trillion in assets held by commercial banks. The 150 largest banks, which would face more regulatory scrutiny, hold the remaining four-fifths … Mr. Frank said the change would not in any way diminish the oversight of the smaller banks, which would continue to face regular examinations by bank regulators for consumer problems. He also noted that the largest banks, which would face examinations by the new agency, had engaged in the worst abuses.” More from Politico.

Baseline Scenario’s Simon Johnson and Economist’s View’s Mark Thoma accuse U.S. Chamber of Commerce of hurting their own members by opposing consumer protection agency: “Unscrupulous Finance has brought us down and will do it again. Those most damaged now and in the future include small and medium-sized business owners who are trying to treat customers fairly.”

Goldman Sachs looking for PR solution to protect their obscene bonuses. NYT: “Goldman executives know they have a public opinion problem, and they are trying to figure out what to do about it — as long as it does not involve actually cutting pay … Goldman said Thursday that it would donate $200 million to its charitable foundation (that figure represents 6 percent of its third-quarter profit, or about six days of earnings). Rumors are swirling on Wall Street that Goldman might donate even more money to charity, perhaps as much as $1 billion…”

Bank of America’s Lewis forgoing 2009 pay under pressure from Obama exec pay czar Kenneth Feinberg. Bloomberg: “‘Lewis felt that it was not in the best interest of Bank of America to get involved in a dispute with the pay master,’ spokesman Robert Stickler said yesterday in an interview … He declined to comment on whether Feinberg is seeking to reduce Lewis’s approximately $125 million of retirement benefits accumulated in 40 years at the company.”

Preliminary, Incomplete Stimulus Numbers Released

W. Post reports on the limited nature of the initial stimulus figures: “Businesses that received federal contracts from stimulus spending reported creating or saving about 30,000 jobs, according to figures released Thursday … The contracts represent just a sliver of the spending under the $787 billion package. Also, much of the $16 billion allocated to the 9,000 businesses has not been spent … Critics of the administration jumped on the 30,000 number, arguing that the stimulus program was falling short of the 3.5 million jobs the White House said would be created or saved. The White House said that the number included only jobs linked to the contracts, and that it did not account for the broader impact of money being injected into the economy. At the end of the month, reports will be released on a larger batch of spending, about 100,000 grants and loans. A third of the total stimulus package is in the form of contracts, grants or loans for which recipients must file reports. The rest is made up of tax cuts, state aid and safety-net spending.”

Geithner says we can’t let up on stimulus yet. Dow Jones: “U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday the government must be careful not to repeat past mistakes and withdraw stimulus support too soon. ‘We have improved the prospects we won’t be consigned to a long period of subpar growth,’ but ‘it’s going to be a slower than typical recovery,’ and right now, downside risks continue to outweigh those that are positive, Geithner said.”

Obama Expresses Support For Kerry-Graham Climate Deal

President backs increased oil drilling and nuclear as part of carbon cap legislation, reports ClimateWire: “President Obama gave a nod yesterday to a budding bipartisan Senate effort on energy and climate legislation during a New Orleans town hall meeting … ‘I’m in favor of finding environmentally sound ways to tap our oil and our natural gas.’ Obama also mentioned his support for nuclear energy, one of two key points of possible Senate compromise…”

Also from ClimateWire, possibility remains of Senate vote before Dec. UN climate meeting: “[GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s] spokesman, Robert Dillon, said she will oppose any move by Democratic leaders if they try to debate the legislation on the floor before a major round of U.N. climate negotiations this December in Copenhagen … That feeling has not stopped some top Senate Democrats to leave open the option that the climate and energy bill can be ready for an early December floor debate before Copenhagen.”

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