Morning Must Reads -- Goldman profits from Hill grilling 

New York Times -- Republicans Reject Finance Bill Again, and Offer a Plan of Their Own

If a police officer starts giving you a lecture after he pulls you over for a moving violation, you can be pretty sure you’re going to be getting a warning, not a ticket.

And the great gusts of hot air that blew out from senators at the tiny titans of Goldman Sachs were a good sign that nothing more serious than a good talking to would befall the investment bank. That helped send Goldman stock .66 percent higher on a day when the rest of the S&P financials index slid 3.5 percent.

As the misery of Europe’s debt continued to drive global markets in a funk, it seemed logical to bet on one company that was being accused over and over again on national television of being able to make big money off of bad loans.

After all of the huffing and puffing on Tuesday, Democrats brought forward another vote on the Dodd bank bill in hopes of branding the inevitable block by the GOP as a defense of Goldman Sachs.

The Democrats’ plan is beneficial to Goldman and executives spoke of the need for more regulation during Tuesday’s show trial, but the party still paints Republicans as the firm’s benefactors for blocking the bill.

But in a sign of how close the two party’s really are on financial regulation, the GOP put forward it’s own legislation late Wednesday.

The most important similarities to the Democratic proposal are that the legislation gives the federal government new power to unwind failing financial institutions outside of bankruptcy court and it also offers a consumer protection agency to regulate lending.

So, like the Dem plan, the Republican offering creates a special category for big banks, but tries to codify that there would be no federal support for the failing institutions or their creditors – the idea would be to have something like a fast-track bankruptcy in which investors in a bank take a beating but impact on the rest of the economy is limited.

On the consumer protection agency, Republicans want oversight limited to financial institutions so that merchants who offer payment plans and store accounts don’t get caught up in a new bureaucracy.

The other big GOP addition is new rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the permissive parents who threw the mortgage party where all the kids got bombed on subprime shooters.

Writers Edward Wyatt and David Herszenhorn explain that as Democrats wail away on Republican obstructionism to keep the bill moving, there are risks to what could be a big bipartisan victory.

“Another vote on a measure to bring the Democrats’ bill to the Senate floor is scheduled for Wednesday. The Democrats are betting that by losing a series of votes to bring the bill to the Senate floor, they can portray the Republicans as obstructionist. But the tactic risks alienating centrist Republicans who support aspects of the legislation and may be willing to vote to allow the debate to go forward. “


Wall Street Journal -- Democrats Take New Tack to Rally Base

Democrats believe that dissing white guys can pay off big this fall.

As Examiner colleague Julie Mason points out today, the administration sees big opportunity in trying to hang Arizona’s controversial crackdown on illegal immigration around the neck of the Republican Party by having Attorney General Eric Holder sermonize against the law in court.

Plus, if states start taking up illegal immigration, federalism may take hold on the issue and Washington will have failed in the primary responsibility of securing the nation’s borders.

Today, DNC boss Tim Kaine will lay out the rest of the Obama team’s strategy for uniting minority voters against the onslaught of white deviltry at the polls this fall.

It’s the kind of shoddy, divisive politics that high-minded Democrats like Kaine and Obama used to lament in Republicans. But now that it’s their rumps that are exposed, they have developed a new taste for wedge issues and base politics.

Writers Jonathan Weisman and Peter Wallsten explain:

“In Mr. Kaine's text, viewed by The Wall Street Journal, the former Virginia governor plans to promise a $50 million effort to counter what he calls a ‘political headwind.’ Part of the money will go to ‘recruit and train a corps of attorneys and law students’ to monitor polling places and guard against voter-suppression efforts.

‘We know the Republican Party still seeks to suppress the vote and initiate arbitrary challenges, particularly challenging minority and low-income voters,’ the text says.”


New York Times -- Obama Tells Debt Commission ‘Everything Has to Be on the Table’

The president certainly likes to set a big table, but the portions usually seem to end up being pretty skimpy for those who disagree with him.

As with health care, Afghanistan strategy, economic recovery, energy and seemingly everything else, Obama favors a laborious process of decision making before arriving back at his obvious decision.

His debt commission seems to be the most lavish example of this process-intensive approach to validating his decisions so far.

The end result from the deficit commission – after Alan Simpson gets done berating his fellow Republicans for anti-gay bias and a list of other offenses real and perceived – will be the president’s support for a huge tax increase and some modifications to Medicare to help battle the deficit that is squeezing America so much tighter after the president’s emergency spending and national health program.

The best evidence is that the administration so often finds ways to rephrase candidate Obama’s iron-clad promise not to raise taxes on any family making less than $250,000 a year: “Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes,” he once said. Now, the president talks about a promise not to raise “income taxes.”

After the election, get ready for some even more creative language.

As writer Jackie Calmes lets you know between the lines, the panel is designed to fail but still give Obama lots of cover when he eventually lowers the boom.

“Expectations are low given the party polarization, especially in an election year.

Still, administration officials have suggested that should the commission reach a deadlock, Mr. Obama could adopt proposals left on the table.”


New York Times -- Obama Sticks to a Deadline in Iraq

Writers Peter Baker and Rod Nordland suggest that the Obama administration rebuffed a back-channel request from Gen. Ray Odierno to keep 3,000 to 5,000 combat troops in Iraq after the August deadline to withdraw all combat forces from the country.

There will be 50,000 troops still in Iraq until next year, but they are trainers and support personnel. The “trigger pullers” all are ordered out in the next four months.

But Baker and Nordland say that the inability of Iraqis to form a government and the mischief making by Iranians on behalf of defeated incumbent Nouri al-Maliki have some in the military thinking that the timetable should be adjusted or that a small combat force should be on hand just in case things get hairy.

“Ryan C. Crocker, the former American ambassador to Iraq who was appointed by President George W. Bush and later made recommendations to Mr. Obama regarding the drawdown, said the administration should consider extending the August deadline.

‘I am a little bit nervous,’ Mr. Crocker, now dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, said in a recent interview. ‘The elections were later than expected and there were very close results between Maliki and Allawi, which suggest it’s going to be a very long process. We may not even have a new government until we’re at the August deadline. I’d like the U.S. to retain the original flexibility.’”


Associated Press -- Texas gov. shoots, kills 'wily' coyote during jog

I know he’s made a Shermanesque refusal to run for president and that he’s in a surprisingly tight re-election race with former Houston Mayor Bill White, but after reading stories like this one, it’s hard not to think that we’ll be seeing Rick Perry in 2012.

Perry was jogging outside of Austin with his daughter’s Lab puppy and the dog was menaced by a coyote in the brush. Perry carries a laser-sighted pistol with him when he runs (hollow-point rounds), so he was able to dust off the varmint and finish his training circuit.

“‘I holler and the coyote stopped. I holler again. By this time I had taken my weapon out and charged it. It is now staring dead at me. Either me or the dog are in imminent danger. I did the appropriate thing and sent it to where coyotes go,’ he said.…

The governor left the coyote where it fell.

‘He became mulch,’ Perry said.”


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