TPM News

They're close to a deal, they're not close to a deal, they're talking, they're not talking.

The final Wall Street reform negotiations have been beset by delays as key members hash out compromises on the two outstanding (and deeply consequential) aspects of financial regulatory reform.

First there's the so-called Volcker rule. Then there's the question of derivative regulations. The more difficult fight is over the latter, so let's deal with it first.

House Democrats with close ties to big banks have threatened to bolt from the whole bill over proposed new derivatives rules in the Senate bill. If passed they would require major financial firms to dissociate from their derivative trading desks. Certain New Democrats and members of the New York delegation wants that particular measure scrapped. That sounds complicated, but the basic idea is to forbid federally insured firms from taking the sorts of risky gambles that could cause them to collapse.

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Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has been a darling of conservatives this cycle, may be shifting closer to the center on his opposition to President Obama's recently enacted health care bill. Today he told a group of bloggers that he would not repeal the ban on denying insurance coverage to people based on pre-existing conditions, Jim Geraghty reports.

Rubio further told Matt Lewis that he does not considering the pre-existing conditions ban to be a part of "Obamacare."

Earlier in the cycle, as the bill was on its way to passage and Rubio was in the midst of a Republican primary with the now-independent Gov. Charlie Crist, Rubio had signed the Club For Growth's "Repeal It" pledge. Candidates who signed the pledged committed themselves "to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010, and replace it with real reforms that lower health care costs without growing government."

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This morning at the Democratic caucus, the message from leadership to Blue Dogs unwilling to support a new campaign finance measure requiring more disclosure in political advertising -- wise up.

The bill -- a response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision -- passed this afternoon, 219-206. There were 36 Democrats -- members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Blue Dogs -- who voted against it. Many Blue Dogs feared retribution from the business community in an already tough election year if they had voted for the legislation.

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The race to replace retiring Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) will get some high-profile attention next month in the form of a visit from President Obama on behalf of Democratic nominee Robin Carnahan.

According to the Kansas City Star, Obama will appear at a Carnahan fundraiser July 8. As the paper reports, the race with GOP nominee Roy Blunt "is sure to be a very expensive" and Carnahan can certainly use the cash Obama will bring.

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House and Senate leaders are still at an impasse over derivatives language in the financial regulatory reform bill, as conferees try to hammer out a compromise between the two versions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in fact, met with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) to try to dislodge Lincoln from her position on the language, to no avail. As chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Lincoln wrote the derivatives language, including a provisions that would require banks to spin off their derivatives trading operations. The swap desks provision, as it's called, is unpopular among Democrats and banks.

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Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY), in an interview this week with Right Wing News, doubled down on his assertion that the children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States should not be citizens.

In the new interview, Paul said he believes the courts should review whether the Fourteenth Amendment actually grants citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. And if they decide it does, he said, we should amend the Constitution.

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On the campaign trail, Rick Scott -- the former hospital executive who's spending a fortune to run to the right of Bill McCollum in the Florida governor's race -- has been a vocal opponent of the economic stimulus package passed by Congress last year, all part of his strategy to appeal to tea party voters. But when it comes to his own budget, it turns out Scott saw his personal fortunes rise as a result of the spending.

Politico reports that XFONE, a telecom firm Scott owns a 15% stake in, bragged about the over $60 million in stimulus grants it won this year. The Palm Beach Post reports that the value of Scott's stake in the company rose by $4 million thanks to the infusion of federal cash.

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The Ohio governor's race is getting some national attention this week -- and that's not necessarily good for former Rep. John Kasich (R).

A pair of hyperlocal gaffes are creating big problems for Kasich, who is trying to unseat Gov. Ted Strickland (D). First, Kasich said he wouldn't join with other Ohio pols begging basketball genius (and native son) LeBron James to stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And then Kasich's campaign spokesperson essentially mocked Strickland's rural roots by suggesting the governor was raised in a "chicken shack."

Now the Kasich campaign is under attack and national pundits are saying he's in trouble.

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