TPM News

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), one of the lead negotiators on financial reform, said this morning that claims that the financial reform bill are tough on Wall Street is "laughable."

"What regulation does is help the big guys and hurt the small guys," Corker said on Morning Joe. "This derivatives piece, it doesn't hurt Wall Street. You've gotta be kidding me."

"The fact is that it's the end users, it's those guys out there in Iowa, in Kansas, and it's our community bankers across the country that we need to be concerned about with this regulation," he said. "When this bill passes, the only thing that's gonna happen is the large firms that exist are gonna get larger."

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Democrats probably didn't expect to find themselves in this position: On the cusp of moving a big Wall Street reform bill to the Senate floor, with Republicans, as if immune from political pressure, banding together to block them. But they knew it could happen. Some even would have preferred this, relishing the optics of allowing the GOP to side with big, unpopular financial institutions.

So surely Democrats and their allies in key pressure groups have rehearsed a bold, unified response, in the event that the GOP follows through on their threat to block debate. Ads are in the can, talking points are drafted, and everyone's been prepped to argue before the world that the Republicans have allied themselves with the firms that wrecked the economy. Right?

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Appearing on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show today, the attorney for Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, the Birther Army doctor who is said to be facing a court martial for refusing orders, suggested that if his client is court-martialled, he will use discovery to try to further the Birther crusade.

One week ago, the military announced that Lakin is under investigation after he refused to report for a second tour in Afghanistan. Lakin believes that President Obama may not be a natural-born citizen, and therefore that military orders are invalid.

Today, Lakin appeared on Liddy's show with his attorney, identified as Paul Jensen.

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Congress will not consider legislation to give the District of Columbia voting rights this year because the bill was clogged with "issues" such as gun ownership, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced this morning.

It's a breakdown of an issue critical to DC's 600,000 citizens in a Democratic-controlled Congress that seemed close to passing a compromise measure. A floor vote had been scheduled for this week.

"The price was too high," Hoyer said in his weekly briefing with reporters.

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An army of lobbyists and financial professionals is swarming into Washington D.C. this week to push against financial reform.

As The New Republic reports, "some two dozen executives from large corporations will be descending on Capitol Hill today to make the case against over-regulating derivatives." That push is being organized in part by the Chamber of Commerce. And The New York Times reports today that "more than 1,500 lobbyists, executives, bankers and others have made their way to the Senate committee that on Wednesday will take up legislation to rein in derivatives, the complex securities at the heart of the financial crisis, the billion-dollar bank bailouts and the fraud case filed last week against Goldman Sachs."

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As Gov. Charlie Crist appears to inch toward dropping out of the Florida GOP Senate primary to run as an independent, Marco Rubio's list of endorsers is growing by leaps and bounds. Here's the full list of Florida and national pols standing with Rubio now.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) told the National Review that he will not drop out of the Florida Senate race, declaring: "damn right. I'm staying in this race."

Crist said that he would never run as a Democrat, but is "still undecided" about whether to continue running in the Republican primary -- in which he is trailing badly in the polls -- or to run as an independent. "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead," said Crist.

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Rep. Joe Sestak launched his first salvo in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary air war this morning. In a 60-second spot running statewide, Sestak touts his bio as a Navy officer and his credentials as a Democrat.

Sestak has been struggling to catch up to Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in public polling, and the ad suggests Sestak's campaign thinks that's partially because Pennsylvania voters don't know him well enough in advance of the May 18 primary. Heavy on bio, the spot doesn't mention Specter -- or the myriad of negative attacks Sestak has leveled at him since the campaign got started.

The TPM Poll Average for the Sestak-Specter primary shows Specter in the lead by a margin of 45.0-29.8.

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The corporate lawyer who acted as the Justice Department's inside man at AIG is reportedly set to take the number two spot at DOJ.

James Cole, an attorney with Bryan Cave, was placed as a government monitor inside AIG -- reporting back to DOJ and SEC -- as part of a 2004 deferred prosecution agreement after AIG had been charged with helping a client, PNC Bank, avoid taxes. AIG also paid an $80 million fine as part of that deal.

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