Sen. Bernie Sanders said something we don't hear often enough on cable news shows while talking to Dylan Ratigan about the amendments being considered on the Senate floor today on financial reform.
Sanders: Are we a democracy or are we an oligarchy where the very powerful special interests exert enormous influence over our government.
..I think we're an oligarchy and I think it's getting worse and I think we need to rally the American people...
The middle class in this country is collapsing. Poverty is increasing and the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider. And what's happening with the banks is one of the reasons that that is occurring, so this is not esoteric. This is our standard of living. This is the survival of the middle class.
This interview was before -- no big surprise -- some of those amendments started going down in flames. Shocker right? More good news for the banks all around.
A furious Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., accused Republicans Tuesday of blocking debate on a closely watched amendment that would insulate customers from conflicts of interest and prohibit banks from making risky but highly lucrative trades that helped trigger the recession.
Merkley's outburst came after Republicans objected to what Democrats thought was a routine request for the Senate to consider -- and later vote on -- the amendment he co-sponsored with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. That pattern had been followed for two weeks.
At the center of the latest showdown over financial reform legislation is a proposal to strengthen the Volcker rule, which would limit on risky trading on Wall Street. The amendment, which was scheduled for a vote by bipartisan agreement, is now being objected to by GOP leadership. But Progressive Dems say without a vote on their amendment, they may not allow the bill to proceed.
For his part, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) supports the measure, but is not inclined to put it in his manager's amendment in order to make sure it gets a vote.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) told reporters at a press conference this evening that the refusal by Republicans to allow a vote on the issue put the cloture vote in jeopardy. "There's a reasonable expectation...that our amendments would be brought to a vote," Levin said. "I'm not inclined to vote for cloture if we can't get a vote on this."
The Senate just voted 56-38 to table Sen. Byron Dorgan's amendment to the Wall Street reform bill that would have banned trading in naked credit default swaps, essentially eliminating a huge gambling market, wherein speculators bet on the success or failure of entities in which they have no financial interest.
That may complicate matters for Democratic leaders, who quite possibly just lost Dorgan's vote.
"I'm not very interested in moving a bill that doesn't address the central issue that I want to address," Dorgan told me a few minutes before his amendment was tabled. "But we'll see. We'll work tonight and see what happens."
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