Tuesday, April 27, 2010

As the GOP prepares to cave...


Bipartisan Wall Street reform negotiations appeared on the brink of collapse Tuesday night after Republican and Democratic principals found themselves at an impasse over the issue of consumer financial protection. But though Republicans have been promising all week to sustain a filibuster, blocking debate on the Democrats' legislation, they now seem prepared to cede the current fight, explicitly saying that, if talks don't bear fruit soon, they'll allow the bill to move to the floor.

"I don't feel like there's a real possibility in the near future of getting a bipartisan bill... I just don't feel that's a possibility," said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) in response to a question from TPMDC.

Corker hasn't decided if he himself will ultimately decide to break a GOP filibuster of financial reform legislation--but he's fairly certain that a global agreement between Democrats and Republicans is likely impossible. "I don't feel under any pressure [but] I'm just far less optimistic than I've ever been."

Unlike Corker, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), long thought to be a financial reform swing vote, said he'll give negotiations between Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) a bit more time--he said he's likely to vote to sustain the filibuster again tomorrow. But if there's no breakthrough soon, he's going to vote with the Democrats to debate the issue on the floor.

And what did Jonathan Chait say...oh, yesterday?!??

Republicans think they can limit the political damage of a filibuster if they reach a bipartisan deal. But what incentive do the democrats have to reach a deal? If they can force the Republicans to maintain a filibuster, why not keep the issue going until November? The strategy here seems to be, take a political hit by opposing popular legislation, and then hope that somehow this will strengthen the party's hand in the negotiations to follow. How will this work? It's like trying to bluff your opponent in poker when both you and he know he has the stronger hand.

What's more, Republicans are no longer even pretending to be able to hold the line after today's vote.

Now that the Democrats know the Republicans are planning to defect after the first vote, why on Earth would they compromise? Moreover, what is the point of taking the hit by filibustering reform in the first place? It could work, in theory, if you could bluff the Democrats into thinking the GOP might hold the line indefinitely. But I'm pretty sure the Democratic party has access to articles published in Politico, which means the jig is up. So now the Republicans are trying to bluff in poker when they and their opponent know they have the weaker hand, and their opponent has heard them admit that their strategy is to bet for a couple rounds and fold before the end. Why not just cut their losses now? This makes zero sense.