Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why Bipartisanship Will Prevail on Financial Reform, Will Supreme Court Nominee Be a Non-Event?, The Remarkable Chris Christie

Why Bipartisan Talks on Financial Reform Will Succeed
We will get a financial reform bill and it will be bipartisan in nature. No, it probably will not be a 100-0 vote in the Senate, but there is a high probability of a 75-25 vote at the end of the day. A far cry from the long, drawn out, bitterly partisan debate over health care, Senate discussions have been downright collegial. So what gives? Several things about the dynamics of the issue and the times create a perfect bipartisan storm.

(1) No one wants to be on the side of the banks
Unlike with health care reform, where Republicans could credibly claim to be defending the 80% of Americans that have good health care, there is not much of a constituency for the financial status quo. Sure, the big banks like it. But Americans are livid about bankers taking huge risks, going broke, taking tax payer money, then paying out big bonuses a year later. Supporting some kind of reform is just good politics.

(2) Failure would be ugly for both sides
Think about it...the banking meltdown is the single biggest crisis that the country has had since September 11th. To go run for re-election saying you voted to uphold the status quo is hardly a winning formula.

(3) Everybody has taken the cash
Both the GOP and the DEMs have taken big bucks from the big banks. Do they really want this to be a campaign issue for their challengers in the fall?

(4) They aren't that far apart
Neither side, apparently, favors fundamentally changing the system by breaking up banks considered "too big to fail" and neither side is unhappy with the status quo. Unlike with health care, where there was a fundamental difference in the views on the proper role of government, the GOP and the DEMs largely agree that more regulation is needed, but not radically more.

A Supreme Court Cakewalk?
All indications point towards moderation and bipartisanship in President Obama's Supreme Court pick as well. The President has been holding bipartisan meetings to go over potential candidates, clearly looking to find someone middle-of-the-road enough to get through without a tough fight.

You know, it's an odd thing. In the aftermath of health care, the GOP was making sounds like it was armageddon for any bipartisanship. Yet, the period following that bill actually appears poised to be one of the most bipartisan in years. Lindsey Graham is even working with the DEMs to craft a compromise immigration reform bill...not that I think that it will actually become a reality this year.

I Admit, I'm Impressed
This blog is devoted to national politics, so I generally try to stay away from discussing local New Jersey politics unless it is a relevant national story. The early days of the administration of Governor Chris Christie (R) certainly fit the bill of a national story, with national conservative commentators such as George Will writing extensively about his administration.

I did not vote for Governor Christie, as frequent readers will know (I supported Independent Tom Daggett in the 2009 election.) We do not see eye-to-eye at all on social issues and in spite of the failure of ex-Governor Jon Corzine, I couldn't bring myself to vote for him.

But, I am impressed with his administration so far. Faced with over a 2 billion dollar current year deficit (9% of New Jersey's total budget) and a projected 10 billion dollar deficit next year (35% of that budget), the new Governor has taken quick, decisive and mostly correct action. He has eliminated state aid for wealthy school districts. He has cut excess services. And now he is taking on the public unions, which have incredibly generous benefit packages which cost astronomically more than their counterparts in the private sector.

Living in one of the school districts that was impacted by the state cuts, it was interesting to watch the local reaction. The school board here responded in part with budget cuts, but in large measure by proposing property tax increases. The voters responded by voting down the property tax increases in municipal elections this week and electing an anti-tax activist to the school board.

If the people behind the tea party movement want to gain real credibility, Christie is a role model. Fiscal responsibility resonates with the public, even in blue New Jersey. People are tired of government waste and high taxes. They just aren't on board with the nutsos running the tea party movement in this country. Moderate pragmatists like Chris Christie should be the role model for the new GOP. Let's hope they pay attention and remember.

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