Stymied from actually passing financial reform legislation in the Senate, Democrats have decided to turn the issue into a fundraising and campaign tool for the 2010 elections.
Unified Republicans blocked further consideration of the regulatory overhaul bill for a third time Wednesday, although GOP senators later signaled they will eventually allow a vote on what would be the largest overhaul of rules governing the financial industry since the Great Depression.
Democrats, including President Obama, have wanted to pass the legislation to offer consumers greater protection, and to prevent another economic meltdown, such as occurred in 2008.
The House approved its version of financial reform last year, but with Wall Street executives strongly opposed to new regulation, Senate Republicans thus far mustered a filibuster to prevent the bill from reaching Obama’s desk.
Even before news broke of the Republicans’ apparent willingness to relent, Democrats apparently concluded that bank reform can be a winner for them, whether or not it becomes law.
Seizing on a poll this week that finds most Americans support new regulation for banks and other financial institutions, the Democratic National Committee rushed out an email fundraising appeal after the GOP blocked the legislation Tuesday.
“Frankly, this is a game-changer, just as we kick off our Vote 2010 campaign. New polls shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans support Wall Street reform, but the GOP is transparently standing with the big banks,” says the email, signed by DNC Executive Director Jen O’Malley Dillon. “We’re whipping up a series of ads, aimed at highlighting how Republicans have locked arms with big banks in the name of killing Wall Street reform. But we need your help to get them on the air right away.”
Although it is the GOP who is standing in the way of advancing reform, the DNC email cites a “Democrats side with Wall Street” press release issued by the Republican National Committee, meant “to muddy the issue.”
“If we can tell this story clearly and forcefully, we’ll put huge pressure on the GOP to back down and support Wall Street reform — and make sure voters remember this moment when they head to the polls in November,” the DNC email says.
The DNC email suggests Democrats could craft highly negative TV ads in the 2010 campaign that paint Republicans in a dark light for siding with bankers in blocking reform.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll says a majority, 52 percent, of all Americans trust Obama over the GOP on the financial-reform issue, while 35 percent favor the Republicans in Congress. Among sought-after independents, these voters prefer Obama 47 to 35 percent, the poll finds.
An earlier Gallup poll found even higher support for Wall Street reform.
Democrats are looking to protect their three-year-old congressional majority in the 2010 midterm elections. They are looking for any and every tool that will help them do so. The current political environment that indicates just middling job approval ratings for Obama, and the strongest anti-incumbent mood lawmakers have faced since the 1994 midterms that proved so disastrous for Democrats. That was the year Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress for the first time in 40 years.