Lawmakers Gird For Fight On Financial Overhaul Bill
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
NPR's Audie Cornish reports.
AUDIE CORNISH: Democrats are downright confident that this debate will go down a lot more smoothly than the health care overhaul.
BYRON DORGAN: I don't think the Republicans are going to want to tell the American people we're going to filibuster Wall Street reform.
SHERROD BROWN: Well, I think Republicans understand when they go home that they don't want to look like they're protecting Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, no matter where you're from. And I think Republicans will vote for some of these pro-consumer issues.
CORNISH: Democrats Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. They echo sentiments from the White House and consumer advocacy groups such as Americans United for Change. Americans United is already testing out the Main Street versus Wall Street message this week in some not-so-subtle ads on cable TV. The ads say Wall Street is squealing like a pig over reform.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV AD)
NORRIS: Fortunately, for the American taxpayer, pigs cannot vote in Congress. But there are those elephants in the room.
CORNISH: The Senate bill would give regulators more power to monitor such companies. Regulators would be able to impose stricter capital requirements on risky firms and dissolve failing ones that threaten the entire system. But who should have the power to set that in motion and who should pay? These questions are central to Republican arguments against the bill, says Texas Republican John Cornyn. He chairs the committee responsible for electing GOP senators this fall.
JOHN CORNYN: I have no problem going to the mat opposing a permanent TARP.
CORNISH: That's the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a main source of bailout funds.
CORNYN: That's in essence what this is. It's a slush fund that's used to bail out big financial institutions. We could do a lot better than that.
CORNISH: Republicans are dealing with a tricky political calculation, one that takes into account not only the public anger at Wall Street, but also the rancorous health care debate. Here's Taylor Griffin, a former economic adviser to the McCain presidential campaign.
TAYLOR GRIFFIN: The big question is, are people more angry at Wall Street or are they more angry at Washington? And how that question is answered is going to determine the political implications of this debate. If people are more angry at Wall Street, then they're going to side with the Democrats. If they're more angry with Washington, they may side with the Republicans.
CORNISH: You don't have to go farther than the visitors center in the basement of the Capitol for an answer that complicates things.
CAROL WALKER: I'm really upset with both.
CORNISH: This is Carol Walker, a retired teacher from Midland, Michigan.
WALKER: I'm upset that the Congress can't work together. That it's, you know, a constant conflict. I'm very disturbed about that. And of course, I can't agree with supporting those Wall Street leaders who have gobbled all our monies with the bonus business. I think that's a crying shame.
CORNISH: Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capitol.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.