Corker Trying Out “Voice of Reason” Role on Financial Regulation

In the health reform debate, we had several opportunities when it looked like perhaps a Republican or two—maybe Chuck Grassley, maybe Olympia Snowe—would play a voice of reason role and raise some concrete, fixable objections to the legislation. Then the objections could be addressed, at which point you’d have a bipartisan bill, at which point you’d probably see some bandwagoning. But it never happened. Now while Mitch McConnell is determined to deploy the Frank Lutz Lie Like Crazy About Bailouts While Raking In Bankster Cash strategy, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) is trying out the voice of reason role:

As Republican leaders left the White House, they called on Democrats to restart bipartisan talks about the overall shape of the legislation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), echoing comments he made Tuesday, said the bill amounts to an “endless taxpayer bailout for Wall Street banks.”

Obama rejected that criticism. “I’m absolutely confident that the bill that emerges is going to be a bill that prevents bailouts,” he said. “That’s the goal.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) urged his colleagues to cool their “overheated” rhetoric. He agreed that loopholes in the Senate bill might allow failing firms to stay in business, “but the fact is, I think we could fix those in about five minutes.”

Corker is exactly right about this. Chris Dodd’s bill, as written, would make bailouts less likely not more likely. But Corker is also correct that there are a lot of doubts as to exactly how much punch it really packs. This is a concern that responsible Senators should actually look at and try to address, rather than just fling around vaguely as a cover for the fact that they don’t want banks to be regulated at all. But will Corker stand his ground on this, or will he follow the lead of so many of his past colleagues and end up giving in to Rush/Fox/Tea Party pressure to simply obstruct?