TPM News

All week, Senate Republicans have been blocking a floor debate on the Democrats' financial regulatory reform legislation, holding out, they say, for a comprehensive bipartisan agreement between Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, and his counterpart Richard Shelby. Now that both sides acknowledge that a grand deal is not in the offing, Republicans are inching toward breaking their filibuster. This morning on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, sounding resigned to the fact that the Democrats outlasted him, dropped all talk of allowing negotiations to continue, and turned his attention to measures in the Democrats' bill he wants to see fixed.

"[T]his has been a very useful exercise," McConnell said. "By giving people time to actually look at this bill and study the details for themselves, we've enabled them to assess not only the potential impact of the actual text of the bill itself, but also some of the unintended consequences it could have."

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In an example of the Democrats' eagerness to let the Republicans keep blocking the financial reform bill for the time being, President Obama last night used their second block as town hall fodder.

Speaking to voters in Iowa, he said it's "not right" that Republicans voted to block the bill from coming to the floor for debate.

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In a segment called "Who Wants To Beat A Millionaire" last night, Jon Stewart looked at how partisan politics have prevented the Senate from finding a way to pass comprehensive financial reform.

On the other hand, he said, the Goldman Sachs hearings show that the Senate is still capable of expressing some "good old-fashioned impotent rage."

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The Democratic National Committee has a new national cable TV ad going after Republicans for blocking financial reform, a political counter-attack coming right after yesterday's GOP filibuster of the bill.

"Wall Street's risky bets nearly sank our economy," the announcer says. "But when it came to Wall Street reform that would protect consumers and prevent future bailouts, every Senate Republican voted 'no.' Republicans voted to block reform, after a fundraiser with Wall Street lobbyists. Republicans stood by as Wall Street ran wild. Now they are standing with the big banks again. Tell Republicans, if they side with Wall Street over Main Street, you won't be siding with them."

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At a town hall meeting in Iowa last night, President Obama was asked about the new Arizona immigration law. He called it "poorly conceived."

"You can imagine if you are an Hispanic American in Arizona, your great-grandparents may have been there before Arizona was even a state, but now suddenly if you don't have your papers, and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you're gonna be harassed," Obama said, according to CNN. "That's something that could potentially happen. That's not the right way to go."

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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) has a new TV ad starring actor Michael J. Fox, who has become a top activist for medical research in the 12 year since he publicly disclosed his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

"In the fight against disease, you can look back or move forward. Arlen Specter is moving forward," says Fox. "He's won the battles to double funding for biomedical research, to find cures, and to save lives. The next discovery is right around the corner. That's why we need Arlen back in the Senate. He's smart, tough, and always moving forward."

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Stephen Colbert thinks the Democrats are going about fixing America's financial problems the wrong way -- they're 'demonizing an average Joe," he said last night.

That Average Joe? "CEO of Goldman Sachs 'Joe' Lloyd Blankfein."

"Poor Lloyd," said Colbert, was grilled for hours yesterday by a Senate subcommittee, and his "time does not come cheap. Based on last year's salary, he makes $5,000 an hour - six if there's kissing."

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Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said on Morning Joe today that he and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) still aren't close to a bipartisan, comprehensive deal on financial reform.

Are we close to wrapping up a comprehensive deal? No, we're not close to that. We agree conceptually on a lot of things. We have made great progress ... on the too big to fail section. But on the derivatives, we haven't worked that out. And we certainly haven't worked out the consumer agency.

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The controversial Arizona immigration bill signed into law last week was written in part by a conservative immigration law expert and Republican activist who's a former top aide to John Ashcroft, was recently hired by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and is running for statewide office.

Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, was brought in by far-right Arizona legislator Russell Pearce to help draft the legislation that critics are calling "a social and racial sin."

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Though the new immigration law she signed has led to criticism of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) around the world, a new poll from Rasmussen taken since the bill was signed shows that many people in her state are nothing but appreciative.

Brewer's job approval rating stands at 56% in the poll, a huge bounce from the last Rasmussen poll taken two weeks ago. That poll showed Brewer with a 40% approval rating.

Previous polling shows Brewer's approval rating well below the new Rasmussen numbers. The TPM Poll Average (including the new Rasmussen poll) shows Brewer with an approval rating of 46.3% and a disapproval rating of 43.4.

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