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Spin Control

Murray, Cantwell disagree on Wall Street regs

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell see eye-to-eye on most things. The two West Side Washington Democrats have fairly similar voting records.

But they parted ways today on the Senate’s Wall Street regulation bill. Murray voted yes, calling it “the strongest consumer protections in our history:”

Cantwell voted no, saying it allows Wall Street “to continue to exploit loopholes.”

And yes, they are talking about the same bill.

To read their separate takes on the bill, which passed the Senate, go inside the blog.


Murray had nice things to say about the bill. Here’s her press release from early this evening:

Senator Murray Applauds Passage of Wall Street Reform Bill

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) issued the following statement following Senate passage of the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, a bill to protect consumers and end taxpayer bailouts once and for all. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 59-39.

 

“This bill provides Washington families with the strongest consumer protections in our history. It finally adjusts the playing field to put families and their finances before big banks, credit card companies and mortgage lenders. And it guarantees that Washington taxpayers will never be on the hook to bail out Wall Street again.

 

“I have heard from so many people across our state whose stories demonstrate the need for us to act. Families facing foreclosure due to mortgage fraud, seniors who have lost their retirement savings, small businesses that can’t hire because they can’t borrow, and those who have lost everything due to Wall Street’s ‘anything goes’ rules. These families deserve not only accountability, they deserve protection. Standing by and doing nothing is not an option.

 

“This bill encourages individuals to take responsibility for their own finances and it protects them from rip-offs and unfair fees. And it says once and for all that if Wall Street falters, Wall Street is responsible for cleaning up the mess.

 

“This is about fundamental fairness. It’s a about whether when you walk into a bank to sign up for a mortgage, or apply for a credit card, or start a retirement plan – are the rules on your side, or are they with the big banks on Wall Street? For far too long the financial rules of the road have favored Wall Street. Today we have turned the tide.”

 

The Wall Street Reform bill passed today includes the strongest consumer protections ever provided for Washington state families including:

·         A guarantee that Washington state taxpayers will never be responsible for baling out Wall Street again.

·         A brand new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help expose big bank rip-offs, end unfair fees, curb out-of-control credit card and mortgage rates, and be a new “cop on the beat” to safeguard consumers.

·         Strong new regulations of Wall Street’s dark markets that were utilized to gamble with the savings of Washington families.

·         Enhanced authority for bank regulators to improve transparency and oversight of banks.

·         Protections for small businesses from unfair transaction fees imposed by credit card companies.

·         A new consumer advocate focused on protecting service members and their families who are too often the target of predatory lending.

·         New accountability and transparency for the Federal Reserve.

·         Limitations on excessive compensation for Wall Street executives.

·         Tools to help promote financial literacy to ensure that families take personal responsibility for their finances.

·         Restrictions on banks to keep them from making risky loans that endanger the financial system.

·         Tough new rules to prevent banks from engaging in risky proprietary trading (The Volker Rule).

Cantwell, not so much. Here’s her critical statement explaining her no vote, released at almost the same time:

Cantwell: Bill Allows Wall Street to Continue to Exploit Loopholes

Dangerous loopholes would remain in derivatives trading, same loopholes which helped cause economic crisis


WASHINGTON, DC – Tonight U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) voted against the Senate version of a financial regulatory reform bill, saying it did not close potentially dangerous loopholes in the derivatives regulations. Unregulated derivatives, Cantwell said, played a key role in creating the worst financial crisis and economic downturn since the Great Depression. The economic meltdown began on Wall Street but hurt Main Street, costing our economy eight million jobs and cutting off investment capital. Cantwell supports complete transparency and oversight of the derivatives market. Even seemingly small loopholes can create structural flaws in the financial system that can cause tremendous damage in the long term as they are exploited by Wall Street.

 

“While this bill takes much needed steps to help prevent a crisis of this magnitude from ever happening again, it fails to close the very same loopholes in derivatives trading that led to the biggest economic implosion since the Great Depression,” Senator Cantwell said. “Throughout this debate I have fought hard against efforts to weaken this legislation as well as to pass language to strengthen it further. But the fact of the matter is, without key reforms in derivatives trading, this bill does not safeguard America’s economy from a repeat of this crisis.

It sets up a process for responding the next time we have a financial crisis, but it doesn’t prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again. We have to stop these kinds of dangerous activities. We need stronger bans on banks gambling with depositors’ money. We need bright lines – like Glass-Steagall – that separate risky activities from the traditional banking system.  We need to refocus our financial system away from synthetic bets and get more capital into the hands of job creators and Main Street businesses. There are good, strong provisions in this bill, and I’m proud of the work we did to get them in there, but I fear that without closing the  loopholes primarily responsible for this economic meltdown, we are missing the entire heart of the matter.”

 

“I’m not giving up this fight. I intend to continue to work with my colleagues to strengthen the bill even further during the conference process, including taking language from an amendment I have offered with Senator Blanche Lincoln to close this loophole by tightening clearing requirements for trading derivatives. I believe that there is the will in both chambers to solve this challenge – to tighten these critical loopholes and protect America’s economy. We must reign in these dark markets and prevent our economy from being undermined by this dangerous loophole.”

Cantwell coauthored two amendments that were not allowed to come up for debate and a vote in the Senate. An amendment she coauthored with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) would have tightened clearing requirements for trading derivatives by requiring that all standardized swaps be cleared; under this amendment, failure to do so makes the swap unlawful and could void the swap. Another amendment coauthored with Sen. John McCain, R-AZ would have re-established the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking.

 

Throughout the debate, Cantwell has tirelessly fought to defeat efforts to weaken the legislation, and she has championed amendments that strengthen the bill, particularly in the areas of derivatives trading. Cantwell, a leader in the fight to prevent a repeat of the financial meltdown of 2008, and in previous years to end energy market manipulation, helped craft the tough derivatives language under consideration in the financial regulatory reform bill on the floor.

On May 17, the Senate passed an
amendment co-sponsored by Cantwell that provides strong protections for investors while promoting small business startups vital to job creation.

On May 13, the Senate passed an
amendment 61 to 38 submitted by Cantwell and Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) to remove the federal government’s ‘seal of approval’ from investment rating agencies and force federal regulators to develop more diverse and accurate measures of credit worthiness. Economists, regulators, and industry experts have agreed that an over-reliance on credit ratings contributed significantly to the recent economic crisis. 

On May 6, the Senate unanimously passed Cantwell’s
anti-manipulation amendment, which makes it easier for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to deter and enforce manipulation in futures and derivatives markets. Under current law, the standard the CFTC must meet to prove market manipulation is so high that there has only been one successful prosecution in the past 35 years. 


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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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