Debate Heats Up On Financial Overhaul Bill
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: You know, in the past, the president has mocked Republican opposition, kind of had some humor at their expense. But in his radio address on Saturday, he struck a very different tone. He called his opponents cynical and deceptive. What's happening here?
ROBERTS: So the White House feels like it's got to fight back and say it's not even vaguely true that this is a bailout. They sent Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, out yesterday, to make the case for the bill. Here he is on NBC's "Meet the Press."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")
TIMOTHY GEITHNER: I am very confident that we're going to have the votes for a strong package of financial reforms that will bring derivative markets out of the dark, help protect taxpayers from having to fund future bailouts and trying to make sure we're getting Americans some basic protections against fraud and abuse.
ROBERTS: Over the weekend, the White House did suggest changing the legislation to take out a bank financed pool that is designed to help shut down failing institutions because that's the element of the bill the Republicans been calling the bailout.
INSKEEP: Okay. So, the Republicans are describing this as a bailout; Democrats are basically saying Republicans have been meeting with Wall Street executives and trying to block regulation here.
ROBERTS: So, the fact that the president is using this kind of rhetoric shows them that they're afraid that they might be losing the voters on their key issue.
INSKEEP: Does it affect the debate over this financial regulation, that even as the Senate prepares to take it up, Goldman Sachs is accused of wrongdoing?
ROBERTS: People start to remember why this bill is important, why you have to regulate these financial institutions and their complicated maneuverings. And McConnell was very clear, yesterday, in saying everybody wants a bill. There's not one member of the Senate that doesn't want a bill, he kept saying. He just kept saying he wants to go back to the table and start again with a bipartisan bill. Does that sound familiar to you, Steve?
INSKEEP: Sounds like almost word-to-word the health care bill.
INSKEEP: Same thing.
ROBERTS: Exactly. But it also is polling pretty well with the voters, that idea of a bipartisan bill.
INSKEEP: Well, since you mentioned polls, that leads to the question of elections. We've got one coming up. And what do you think it means, Cokie Roberts, that the president needs to go to California and campaign for Senator Barbara Boxer?
ROBERTS: Now, perhaps the president has decided that he's not going to get any Republican support anyway, and he might as well get Democrats excited. That's what George Bush found after he tried to do things in a bipartisan manner. Barack Obama seems to be finding the same thing.
INSKEEP: Okay. Thanks very much. That's analysis, on this Monday morning, from NPR's Cokie Roberts. You hear from her every Monday, and we'll continue covering the financial regulation and other stories on NPR News.
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