Conservative Riders Mark Bill To Keep Government Open
Wall Street reform weakened in final spending bill: "The deal was announced late yesterday after Democrats accepted Republican demands to undo some regulations including the banking provision, a big victory for Wall Street. It lets JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and other lenders keep swaps trading in units with federal backstops ... Some Senate Democrats oppose the Dodd-Frank proposal, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren in a statement today called the change 'reckless.' Lawmakers included the measure in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to protect taxpayers against bank losses after souring derivatives trades spurred a U.S. rescue of the financial industry in 2008. The Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency provided a two-year delay in 2013 as long as banks take reasonable steps to move swaps to affiliates that don’t benefit from federal deposit insurance and discount borrowing."
And some pensions will be cut. More from Bloomberg: "The measure would seek to shore up the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. by allowing some underfunded multiemployer pension plans to cut benefits. The provision reflects an agreement by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, a Minnesota Republican, and senior Democrat George Miller, a California Democrat."
"Spending deal would allow wealthy donors to dramatically increase giving to national parties" reports W. Post: "The [bill] would allow individuals to give three times the annual cap on national party donations to three additional party committees set up for the purposes of the presidential conventions, building expenses and election recounts. That means that a donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee would be able to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms -- a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit."
More details from WSJ: "The measure attempts to override voters in the District of Columbia with a rider that bans federal and local funds from being used to implement a referendum that legalized marijuana use ... States would be able to get an exemption from a requirement for whole-grain foods in school lunches if they could show financial or other hardship in procuring the products ... The sage grouse will lose out on protected status under a provision that bans funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue further rules to put the chicken-like bird on the Endangered Species list ... The Pentagon won funding for 38 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters."
Vote timing not clear. The Hill: "Both chambers of Congress are now expected to vote on a stopgap bill to fund the government for two or three days to buy time for the Senate to consider the larger package ... a probable Thursday vote [will take place] in the House. The Senate could also vote on it Thursday, but it’s more likely that work on the bill could spill into Friday or the weekend."
Warren Ratchets Up Pressure On Wall Street
"Elizabeth Warren's Latest Wall Street Attack Was Her Boldest Yet" says TNR's David Dayen: "In a speech ... at the 'Managing the Economy' conference in Washington ... She crafted a direct challenge to three decades of bipartisan collusion between government and Wall Street, in a highly unusual manner for any politician, let alone one recently drafted into the Senate Democratic leadership. The Weiss affair has become secondary to this bigger competition for what principles will shape the Democratic Party, and what role Warren will play in it."
Sen. Harry Reid strikes similar note. NYT: "...Mr. Reid made clear that he does not trust Mr. McConnell to string together the kinds of grand compromises he has vowed to pursue. He also rejected the notion that Democrats’ defeat in the midterms would engender passivity ... 'Is there enough they can do to help Wall Street? I don’t think so. Big banks? I don’t think so,' he said, adding, 'That’s where the new battle is going to be.' ... 'I’m happy to work with them,' he said of Republicans. 'But I’m not going to throw middle-class America overboard.'"
"JPMorgan May Need More Than $20 Billion to Meet Fed Capital Rule" reports Bloomberg: "The Fed laid out a plan yesterday for boosting surcharges for eight large U.S. firms beyond those already levied on the world’s biggest banks by global regulators. While the Fed stopped short of specifying the buffers for each company, it said they probably will range from 1 percent to 4.5 percent based on last year’s data -- exceeding the maximum of 2.5 percent set internationally ... JPMorgan 'was the firm that is actually going to have to come up with more capital,' Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in a subsequent meeting. He said one bank was $22 billion shy and 'that seemed a pretty impressive shortfall.'"
"Have Democrats Failed the White Working Class?" asks NYT's Tom Edsall: "The linked problems of eroding social cohesion, the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage, deteriorating communal ties and weakened social norms, appear to have led to a degree of chaos and disintegration that those accustomed to a secure – and, indeed, a fixed — social order bitterly resent. The central task that the center-left coalition and its political representative, the Democratic Party, now faces is how to make progress in resolving the conflicting needs and values of the vastly different types of people who populate the bottom ranks of the income distribution."
Some GOP governors seek higher gas taxes to pay for road fixes. Bloomberg: "States including Iowa, Michigan and New Jersey are considering higher levies at the pump, borrowing more or other money-generating maneuvers to improve infrastructure ... 'The timing is right in light of the fact that fuel prices have dropped significantly,' Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican re-elected last month ... In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder proposed a plan to raise an estimated $1.2 billion a year ... Republican Governor Chris Christie, who had opposed raising the gasoline tax, put a Democrat in charge of transportation spending and now says he’s open to all options."
Final Senate push to approve nominees. Politico: "Senate Democrats plan to squeeze every last drop out of their majority, threatening to extend the lame duck to approve key nominees of President Barack Obama before turning over Senate control to Republicans in January. If they hold their caucus together, Democrats can unilaterally prevail and approve Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general, Sarah Saldana to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Carolyn Colvin to be Social Security administrator, as well as nine judicial nominees ... Democrats may need all their members to stick around to win tough votes, including Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who lost her seat on Saturday and has missed all of this week’s votes so far."
"Global Accord to Fight Climate Change Is in Sight" reports NYT: "Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions — but would still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming. The draft, now circulating among negotiators at a global climate summit meeting here, represents a fundamental breakthrough ... But the key to the political success of the draft — and its main shortcoming, negotiators concede — is that it does not bind nations to a single, global benchmark for emissions reductions ... every country will publicly commit to enacting its own plans to reduce emissions — with governments choosing their own targets, guided by their domestic politics..."