Dodd Takes the Lead, Proposes Progressive Bailout

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Politico (totally “in the tank,” by the way) has a copy of Chris Dodd’s alternative to Treasury Secretary Paulson’s bailout plan for Wall Street. While Dodd provides the Treasury Department with the authority it needs to buy up all of Wall Streets “distressed assets” (that’s the point of the $700 million), it comes with a bunch of provisions that Paulson neglected. Basically, Dodd is trying to seize this opportunity to achieve progressive goals that would not be manageable in a more market-, deregulation-, and Wall Street-friendly environment.

Authority for bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure. This was considered a poison pill in a housing bill that passed Congress earlier this summer, but it has gained much more currency now that Washington wants to bail out Wall Street.

A provision that would require the Treasury to take a 65 percent portion of 20 percent any profits [sic] it makes from the newly purchased assets and put it into the federal government’s HOPE program, an affordable housing program.

An oversight board that not only includes the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the SEC, but congressionally appointed, non-governmental officials.

Limits on executive compensation. This is a major stumbling point for Paulson in his negotiations with Congress, but cracking down on Wall Street executive salaries will be a major selling point for lawmakers. Dodd and Frank have put in place what’s known as a “claw back” provision aimed at revoking compensation that executives received based on fraudulent claims.

An independent inspector general to investigate the Treasury asset program, appointed by the president.

Democrats control the Senate. If they want to, they can play hardball. They can tell the Republicans, “We insist that all or most of these provisions pass. If you block them, your buddies on Wall Street burn. And we tar you as playing obstructionist games during a time of national crisis.” The Republicans can respond by holding up the bill and then arguing in the press that any inaction in a Democratic-controlled Congress is the fault of the Democrats. But with the public likely in favor of the common sense measures included in the Dodd bill, that would place the GOP in a very tight spot.

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