Big week for U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln. She got a special exception to new banking rules for the Walton family's bank. And early today, the finishing touches were put on financial legislation including her effort to regulate derivatives trading.
After seven hours of additional debate, the conferees approved revisions to the derivatives legislation that would require banks and their parent companies to segregate much of the derivatives trading businesses.
The final restrictions were not as tight, however, as originally approved by Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat who is chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the chief regulator of derivatives.
Mrs. Lincoln’s proposal that banks be banned from all derivatives activity drew opposition from both sides of the aisle almost since it was introduced this spring. But the provision remained in the Senate bill in part because Mrs. Lincoln was facing a tough primary battle in her home state and portrayed herself as a tough critic of Wall Street.
Mrs. Lincoln won that primary in a runoff, a development that again made legislators somewhat reluctant to oppose her derivatives proposals with the general election looming. Only in recent days did a group of centrist House Democrats threaten to withhold their approval of the entire package unless Mrs. Lincoln loosened her derivatives restrictions.
She will declare victory over Wall Street. "Common sense prevailed," is her talking point.
Brummett, who had derided Lincoln's effort previously as cynical politics, comments on her achievement:
Lincoln can now say she accomplished something, which was her need all along, and which, actually, she did. Mainly, concern about her provision forced conferees to insert the more substantial so-called Volcker Rule limiting the extent to which banks can gamble with their own non-client money.