Lincoln Takes Populist Turn On Wall Street Reform

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Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) surprised many observers today when she announced she’d introduce legislation to tightly regulate the derivatives market, as part of a broader financial regulatory reform bill. Lincoln’s one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, and the White House had been pressuring her not to cede too much to the GOP on the issue. In the end she not only did as they asked, she took them to task for not going far enough to regulate banks.

“Proposals that I have seen from the administration have not gone far enough to prevent bailouts of ‘too big to fail institutions’ and could contain loopholes,” Lincoln said. “If we pass reform, it needs to be real reform. My proposal will go further than any other congressional or administration proposal to prevent future bailouts.”And, faced with a primary challenge, and a tough general election campaign, she wasted no time positioning herself as a bold opponent of Wall Street. Just hours after the news broke, her campaign manager Steve Patterson blasted out an email to supporters. “Just this afternoon, news broke about Senator Lincoln’s new proposal that would drastically change the way Wall Street does business,” Patterson writes.

Senator Lincoln is effectively using her powerful position as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee to put the concerns of Arkansas’s consumers ahead of Wall Street. In a statement, Senator Lincoln said: “My bill will vigorously reform unregulated markets, close all loopholes, and protect jobs on Main Steet.” Senator Lincoln’s proposal: Brings 100 percent transparency and accountability to Wall Street; Bars any “major swaps dealers” including big banks from receiving taxpayer assistance; Requires dealers to consider obligations to government agencies, pension plans, endowments or retirement funds during any transaction; Goes further than any other proposal to prevent bail outs of ‘too big to fail institutions’ And protects jobs on Arkansas’s Main Streets. Click here to read the article from Politico. After just six months on the job, Senator Lincoln is using her Chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee to protect consumers and fight for Arkansas’s small businesses.

By way of background, Lincoln chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and therefore has a great deal of say over derivatives regulation. Lincoln had been negotiating with her Republican counterpart Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) as recently as yesterday, and reformers, and indeed the White House, were concerned that a compromise on derivatives would weaken a key section of the greater reform bill, without guaranteeing any Republican support.

With the plug pulled on those negotiations, though, Lincoln actually went ahead and proposed stiffer regulations than other, more progressive Democrats did. And the upshot: she still gets to portray herself as somebody who bucks her party.

Who says primaries don’t get results?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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