Saturday, December 13, 2014

Picking Your Battles

Yesterday I wrote about the reality that former-Senator Blanche Lincoln's contribution to Dodd/Frank was not a critical component of Wall Street reform. As part of that, I focused on the importance of passing this cromnibus spending bill as opposed to the ongoing government shutdown battles that would be triggered by a 3 month continuing resolution.

But I think its also important to note the positive elements that are included in the spending bill. Kevin Drum (who has been doing some excellent writing about this) does a great job on that.

The first thing we should recognize is that the rider eliminating Lincoln's "push-out" on a few derivative swaps was traded for additional funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission - in other words, more ability to enforce the really significant portions of Wall Street reform.

But then here's a quote Drum uses from retiring Rep. Jim Moran.
In 20 years of being on the appropriations bill, I haven’t seen a better compromise in terms of Democratic priorities. Implementing the Affordable Care Act, there’s a lot more money for early-childhood development — the only priority that got cut was the EPA but we gave them more money than the administration asked for....There were 26 riders that were extreme and would have devastated the Environmental Protection Agency in terms of the Clean Water and Clean Air Act administration; all of those were dropped. There were only two that were kept and they wouldn’t have been implemented this fiscal year. So, we got virtually everything that the Democrats tried to get.
President Obama echoed the importance of those provisions.

Let me start by saying a few words about the bill that was passed last night to keep the government open and make sure that our agencies are funded until the fall of next year.

This, by definition, was a compromise bill. This is what’s produced when we have the divided government that the American people voted for. There are a bunch of provisions in this bill that I really do not like. On the other hand, there are provisions in this bill and the basic funding within this bill that allows us to make sure that we continue on the progress in providing health insurance to all Americans; make sure that we continue with our efforts to combat climate change; that we’re able to expand early childhood education that is making a meaningful difference in communities all across the country; that allows us to expand our manufacturing hubs that are contributing to the growth of jobs and the progress that we’ve seen in our economy over the last couple of years.

And so, over all, this legislation allows us to build on the economic progress and the national security progress that is important. Had I been able to draft my own legislation and get it passed without any Republican votes I suspect it would be slightly different. That is not the circumstance we find ourselves in. And I think what the American people very much are looking for is some practical governance and the willingness to compromise, and that’s what this really reflects. So I’m glad it passed the House and am hopeful that it will pass the Senate.
Now...if all you care about is sticking it to Wall Street, the current battle among Democrats over this bill might be worth having. But - if you also care about enforcing the critical aspects of Wall Street reform, Obamacare, the President's actions on immigration, early childhood education, climate change, job growth, and national security - all this hysteria is simply a distraction.

I'm honestly trying to figure out why people like Senator Elizabeth Warren decided to pick this battle. Until proven otherwise, I continue to believe that she is a person of integrity. So I'm prepared to give it some time to sort that out. I'll simply note that she has a few issues that she cares a lot about and often resorts to the use of hyperbole to make her case.

I am personally more interested in politicians who have the ability to see the big picture and know how to pick their battles.  


  1. I don't see the need to get all exercised & choose sides between Obama and Warren in the first place.

    She has good points, he has good points. Their respective good points incline one to different conclusions.

    (shrug) that's life in the big city, to paraphrase Whitman.

    1. I'll only care if she manages to stop cromnibus from passing. But Warren is now off my list of preferred alternatives to Clinton.

    2. P.S. The job of getting the word out about the positive elements in cromnibus is on us. We sure can't rely on MSM to do it.

  2. We can't rely on Democrats to get the word out either.

  3. Does this thing have any chance at all of passing in the Senate?

    1. It will require votes from both parties - i.e., bipartisanship. Which means the purists will have a fit!