Partisanship Uncorked

By / 4.1.2010

A little over a week ago, I praised Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) for working with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) to come up with some bipartisan improvements to the financial regulatory reform package that Senate Banking Committee Chair Chris Dodd (D-CT) is looking to get through the Senate in time for Memorial Day. I may have spoken too soon. Corker said yesterday:

“I couldn’t support the bill in its current form,” Mr. Corker said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “I am absolutely not throwing in the towel. I have no plans to support the current legislation. I hope we’ll get back to the negotiating table.”

This is, of course, a familiar tactic. After a year of being actively courted by the administration and Democrats, congressional Republicans claimed they couldn’t support health care reform, but were willing to stall further by espousing an interest in negotiating. But despite Corker’s backing away from a bill that as recently a last week he said he thought was going to pass, it’s worth sticking to the principle of a bill with bipartisan ideas.

The big idea that Warner and Corker worked on was including an autonomous Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) as part of the Federal Reserve System. While sticking the CFPA in the Fed is an ungainly solution, it does have the benefit of giving the CFPA start-up funding through the Fed’s balance sheet. Additionally, creating a brand-new agency out of the parts of others does have the chance of echoing the struggles the Department of Homeland Security had getting off the ground, a fate a Fed-housed CFPA can avoid.

Senate Democrats shouldn’t bend over backwards and try to pass a flawed bill in the hopes of convincing Republicans to get on board. But neither should they give up on looking for broad-based support for meaningful reform.