We must take our vigilance to new heights as we expand the Open Government & Transparency Movement and reach for Accountability.
In the past, an entrenched Veteran in Congress would be able to smooth things over with the media, and supporters within his own party. Congratulations to Connecticut Democrats who are standing up to corruption.
Chris Dodd's Race to the Bottom
How the Senate veteran tumbled from financial reform crusader to GOP appeaser.
Thu Mar. 4, 2010 3:00 AM PSTIn just six months, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the stately front man of the Senate's campaign to crack down on Wall Street, has transformed from financial-reform avenger, scourge of the Federal Reserve, and ally of the average consumer to a GOP pushover. Last fall, the veteran Senator and chairman of the banking committee opened financial reform talks as if shot out of a cannon: He rallied around an independent consumer-protection agency, labeled the Fed's regulatory efforts "an abysmal failure," and proposed a super regulator who would rein in banks and lenders, instead of the existing muddle of offices that let the worst financial crisis in a generation unfold under their noses. "Dodd is basically starting out by out-reforming the administration," a congressional staffer told the Washington Post.
Now, Dodd appears to have switched his focus from out-reforming the White House to out-compromising just about everyone. As the Senate banking committee prepares to release a draft of a comprehensive reform bill as early as this week, Dodd has repeatedly conceded to his Republican counterparts on key issues, almost guaranteeing that the Senate's measure will be far more lenient on the banking industry than the legislation the House passed in December. (A spokeswoman for the banking committee didn't respond to an interview request for this story.) Dodd's willingness to appease Republicans like Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the main GOP negotiating partner, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the banking committee's ranking member, has disappointed Dodd's fellow Democrats and reform advocates who urge a tougher crackdown. "Those who are arguing for real reform," says one Democratic aide involved in the issue, "are arguing, 'Why even compromise if they're going to oppose it anyway? Why are you negotiating against yourself?'"
Democrats disappointed with Dodd are particularly upset with his concessions on an agency to protect consumers from risky financial practices like predatory lending or unscrupulous credit card rules. Dodd insisted in October that there "needs to be an independent agency that looks out for people." But his support for an autonomous agency has been eroding quickly.