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GOP Opposition To Wall Street Reform Begins To Crack

GOP filibusters again, trying to further weaken consumer protections. W. Post: “Despite the continued blockade, several Republicans acknowledged that they will probably allow formal debate to begin soon. But they plan to keep blocking the bill for now to give the lead negotiators, Sens. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), more time to nail down agreements … [They] want assurances that if they allow debate on the bill, Democratic leaders will permit them to offer amendments … Shelby … said the ‘biggest obstacle’ remaining between him and Dodd is a proposed consumer regulator to oversee mortgages, credit cards and other consumer loans.”

GOP Senator George Voinovich may break ranks soon. CNN: “[He] would not say exactly how long he would wait before switching his vote but said, ‘I have an idea of how much time it takes to cut a deal.’ He also said he expects ‘a whole bunch’ of other Republicans to make the same decision.”

Possible deal on liquidating failed financial institutions. TPMDC: “Without going into great detail, Dodd trumpeted the fact that he and Shelby have largely come to an understanding over one major aspect of the legislation–how to unwind large, failed financial institutions–and said he believes that will be enough to move the bill forward, despite continuing disagreement over other key sections.”

Dodd backs Boxer amendment to flatly ban taxpayer money for bailouts, reports Bloomberg.

Goldman grilling raises question if it was “shorting” the entire market, not hedging risk. McClatchy: “Levin repeatedly attacked Blankfein’s contention that the firm was only modestly betting against the housing market. ‘You were short like crazy,’ he said. ‘You came out ahead in a market that crashed.’ … John Coffee, a Columbia University law professor … said that some of the internal documents could put Goldman at legal risk if they show the firm’s mortgage salesmen were ‘simply trying to unload what they believe(d) to be garbage’ … ‘I thought all they were doing was hedging,’ he said. ‘Now it looks like they had a very large short — that they were fundamentally betting against the market.'”

Deficit Hysteria Grips New WH Commission

Robert Kuttner, Dean Baker, Heidi Hartmann and Roger Hickey express concern at austerity approach embraced at first WH debt commission meeting, in afternoon presser hosted by Campaign for America’s Future: “The American Prospect’s Robert Kuttner offered an entirely different approach to deficit reduction, one based on strong economic growth with ‘more social investment in the short-run.’ He mentioned you certainly can cut the deficit with an ‘austerity approach” but ‘if you put the cart before the horse, it’s the more painful way to get to budget balance.'”

MSNBC reports debt commission “getting heat from the left,” as Pete Peterson hosts deficit hysteria event today: “‘The Pete Petersons of the world have the megaphone and the conventional wisdom, even intimidated president of the United States that he has to have [Peterson’s] version of fiscal austerity,’ Kuttner said.”

More reaction at the Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility For People Who Did Not Wreck The Economy hosted by Campaign for America’s FUture.

Europe Debt Fears Spread

Baseline Scenario’s Simon Johnson urges President Obama to step in to address Europe debt crisis: “… large parts of Europe are no longer ‘investment grade’ – they are more like ’emerging markets’, meaning higher yield, more risky … The idea that we can leave this to the Europeans to sort out is an idea of yesterday.”

Dean Baker scolds European central bankers for failing to take action: “While Greece did have serious fiscal problems prior to the economic crisis, the other countries now facing difficulties were not similarly troubled. Spain, the most important of the troubled countries, actually was running surpluses prior to the crisis. The difficulties now facing these countries is largely the result of the economic downturn, which has seriously worsened their fiscal situation. The European Central Bank (ECB) could make the money available to these countries to sustain their economies through this downturn. (They would print it.) The ECB has opted not to go this route because of peculiar superstititions about inflation.”

Yves Smith sees impact on China currency debate: “If the euro continues on its expected slide and the pound is devalued, the dollar’s strength will put a major dent in the US ambitions to increase exports. Moreover, the rise in the greenback relative to other currencies will no doubt make China much more reluctant to revalue the renminbi against the dollar.”

Reid, Graham Yet To Resolve Climate/Immigration Dispute

W. Post reports Reid is backing off immigration reform to prioritize climate bill, but Politico reports the opposite: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected a proposal from supporters of a stalled Senate energy bill that would move immigration reform through the regular committee process on a priority basis and allow the energy bill to move forward on the Senate floor.”

Graham digs in, will filibuster climate bill unless immigration reform is off the table for 2010. TPMDC’s Brian Beutler: “That complicates things for Kerry and Lieberman, who hoped bumping their climate bill back into the lead would be enough to settle the dispute.”

NYT’s Tom Friedman puts the onus on the President to lead and end the spat: “This is a big leadership moment. He needs to confront it head-on, because — call me crazy — I think doing the right and hard thing here will actually be good politics, too.”

TNR’s Brad Plumer says retreating to a narrower energy bill with no carbon cap is no simpler politically: “Many liberals and environmentalists dislike the energy-only bill because it’s far too weak—one analysis found that the bill’s renewable mandates would lead to no more renewable power than if nothing at all was passed. And it’s hard to sell coastal Democrats like Bill Nelson or Robert Menendez on the benefits of offshore drilling if the only thing they’re getting in return is… a slew of middling subsidies for various energy sources.”

EPA releases report detailing climate change indicators. NYT: “The agency lays out 24 possible indicators of climate change … Some of the conclusions are already well publicized … Others are less so: ‘Long-term studies have found that bird species in North America have shifted their wintering grounds northward by an average of 35 miles since 1966, with a few species shifting by several hundred miles.’ … ‘The portion of North America covered by snow has generally decreased since 1972…'”

Enviros opposing compromise welcome delay in hopes of strengthening bill. Politico: “Chief among the concerns of environmental groups was a provision in the bill that would restrict the ability of the EPA and individual states to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”

Oil rig explosion in Gulf of Mexico emboldening coastal drilling opponents, impacting climate bill compromise. NYT: “Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, said he had many concerns about the energy bill that appears to be taking shape, chief among them the aggressive pursuit of offshore oil … Several other coastal-state senators whose votes could be crucial to passage of climate legislation have expressed concerns about the safety and environmental impacts of offshore drilling. They include Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island; Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey; Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrats of Maryland; Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia; Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina; and George LeMieux, Republican of Florida.”

FL Gov. Charlie Crist backs off drilling support. CBS: “He has said previously he would support drilling if it was far enough from shore, safe enough and clean enough. He said the spill is proof that’s not possible.”

Failing robots and plans to build a dome to contain the oil spill means Obama has an opportunity to scale back big oil’s government subsidies. Grist’s Jonathan Hiskes: “At the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh last fall, President Obama promised to scale back government subsidies to the fossil-fuel industries … The continuing Louisiana disaster provides a favorable political climate to make good on that pledge.”

AZ Anti-Immigrant Law Continues To Reverberate

President Obama offered a stern condemnation of Arizona’s new law, reports AP: “‘Now suddenly if you don’t have your papers, and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to get harassed — that’s something that could potentially happen,’ Obama said of the Arizona measure. ‘That’s not the right way to go.'”

Sen. Graham claims before passing immigration reform, we need to “secure the border,” doesn’t explain what that means. The Hill: “Graham tangled with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday … ‘Most Americans think we will have lost our minds if we move forward without securing our border first.’ … ‘I say this again, as someone who has walked that border, ridden it, flown it and driven it,” [Napolitano] said. ‘I believe it is as secure as it ever has been.’ The question Congress and the government need to ask is whether the border will ever be secured to anyone’s satisfaction and whether the ‘goal posts are going to keep moving,’ she said.”

HuffPost’s Christine Pelosi cautions against an immediate blanket boycott of Arizona: “I am most interested here in asking whether boycotts punish the very people – such as hotel employees, restaurant wait staff, and taxi drivers – we progressives are trying to support … Why not wait a few days to fully engage immigration allies in Arizona and determine what they want for their state before we decide for them?”

Mexico’s president issues a travel advisory concerning Arizona, reports Truthdig: “Under the new law, foreigners who do not carry the immigration documents issued to them when entering the United States may be arrested and sent to immigration detention centers. Carrying the available documentation, even before the law comes into force, will help avoid needless confrontations. As long no clear criteria are defined for when, where and who the authorities will inspect, it must be assumed that every Mexican citizen may be harassed and questioned without further cause at any time.”

Talk in Utah and Iowa of following Arizona’s lead reports Stateline.

Pressure On Insurers To Implement Health Reform

WH, Congress successfully pressuring insurers to speed up implementation of reform. CQ: “Democrats opened up a new front in their ongoing war with health insurers Tuesday, urging them to immediately stop canceling policies for people who become ill … By midafternoon, health insurance giant WellPoint announced that it would end the cancellations, known as rescissions, ahead of the law’s [Sept.] deadline … [HHS Sec.] Sebelius said her department would keep a close eye on other unnamed insurers that may be engaging in rescissions — and that she was unafraid to go into ‘hand-to-hand combat’ with insurers that are not cooperative.”

WH backs new sick leave bill. McClatchy: “The Healthy Families Act, sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both Democrats from Connecticut, would require companies that have 15 or more employees to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked or up to seven sick days a year for a full-time worker.”

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