The Corner

Whence the Bipartisan Lovefest on Financial Reform?

Forgive me for being cynical, but I wonder if the renewed interest in bipartisan negotiations on the Dodd bill doesn’t stem from a dilemma being faced by both parties. Namely, how do they both show their respective bases that they are tough on Wall Street and make themselves attractive to Wall Street donors, who have skewed Democratic in recent years but now appear to be up for grabs?

As Spruiell put it to me yesterday, these are issues that don’t divide neatly along partisan or ideological lines, and heretofore that has resulted in a lot of confused and inchoate rhetoric on both sides, each of whom seemed willing to chase the other in circles. But all of the sudden Senator Shelby is saying that the two parties are “closer than ever before” on a bipartisan agreement. Our Hill sources tell us that if Shelby rubber-stamps a deal, it is a lock for 70-plus votes.

Why? Strength in numbers. The broader the support for a bill, the easier it will be for both sides not just to take credit for those parts that prove popular on Main Street, but to share blame for those parts that prove unpopular on Wall Street. Think of it as a legislative credit default swap.

I’ve got more on the prospects for a deal on financial reform over at On the News. Stay tuned for updates.

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