By now, you’re probably aware that Russ Feingold is voting against financial regulatory reform because it doesn’t go far enough. His vote could actually doom the legislation to failure, not unlike Lieberman’s or Nelson’s vote at various stages in the healthcare reform process.
I understand the idea of making a stand as a means of sending a message. Usually, these kinds of conscience votes occur when the vote doesn’t have a serious impact on passage of the bill. But when it’s the deciding vote on legislation that, if it fails, could leave us with the current free-for-all and Feingold’s own party will be blamed for the congressional inaction, I don’t see the wisdom in that. If Feingold votes yes, we get some pretty serious reforms on Wall Street. If he votes no, the same crap that’s happened for the last 10 years will continue to happen unfettered.
I find this staggeringly dumb. What we’ve been witnessing in the White House and Congress for the last year or so is a serious turning of the tide in terms of the role of the federal government — a shift that runs contrary to 30 years of Reaganomics and deregulation.
It’s not a whiplash turn, but it’s still an important turn. Anything more rapid simply isn’t possible. Show me a reality-based path to rolling back 30 years within the span of just under two years. I’d love to see it. (“Show some leadership” isn’t an answer.) In fact, send it to the White House because I’m sure they’d like to know, too. It just doesn’t happen. And anyone who believes it’s possible is clueless when it comes to the nature of the Senate and the American system of government.
But seriously: WTF? This is the final report of a conference committee. There’s no more negotiation. It’s an up-or-down vote and there isn’t going to be a second chance at this. You either vote for this bill, which has plenty of good provisions even if doesn’t break up all the big banks, or else you vote for the status quo. That’s it. That’s the choice. It’s not a game. It’s not a time for Feingold to worry about his reputation for independence. It’s a time to make a decision between actively supporting something good and actively supporting something bad. And Feingold has decided to actively support something bad.