Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest news burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Sen. Dodd is set to unveil financial regulatory reform today with little or no Republican support. Are Republicans right to back away from this bill?


John Castellani, president of the Business Roundtable, said:

To get reform right, we need to take a holistic look at our financial regulatory system and address the root causes of the financial crisis – fixing what’s wrong with the system while keeping what works. Further, reform of this magnitude must have bipartisan input. Unfortunately, Senator Dodd’s current proposal falls short on both counts. 

It’s disappointing that the senator has decided to end bipartisan negotiations and move forward unilaterally. With legislation this sweeping, it’s critical that he re-engage with colleagues from both sides of the aisle. We need a workable bill that retains some of Dodd’s positive provisions – such as those that address resolution authority and systemic risk – while avoiding his unworkable one-size-fits-all approach to corporate governance. With approximately 15,000 public companies that would be affected by legislation, we can’t afford to get this wrong.

Hal Lewis, professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, said:

This is a very difficult but fundamental strategic question. If you have good cause to believe that someone doesn't have your best interests at heart, and he makes a proposal, should you consider the messenger as well as the message. You can end up being nickel-and-dimed into self-destruction. (Long ago I was on a government advisory committee to which a really dreadful proposal was advanced by the agency staff. I said so, and the author of the proposal asked, quite predictably, what I would like to see changed. My answer at the time was that you can't turn country music into Bach one note at a time.) That's the problem here, as with other omnibus "reform" bills this administration likes to generate; they are bait and switch.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:

It looks like the bill might actually have some serious teeth, especially with the consumer financial products protection agency. So, if the Republicans think it's smart to be on the side of Wall Street against the public, then they should oppose the bill.

Bill Press
, host of the "Bill Press Show" and a contributor to the Pundits Blog, said:

It's not surprising that Republicans oppose any financial reform, because they're against doing anything about - anything. They protected health insurance companies, and now they're protecting Wall Street bankers. But, in this case, they're making a big mistake. People are still angry at the Wall Street crooks who destroyed the economy and wiped out the life savings of so many Americans while walking away with million-dollar bonuses. And they demand action. Let Republicans explain why they're willing to give them a free pass.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of, said:

Senator Dodd has always been the servant of Big Finance, and this new bill will seal his reputation.

Instead of reforming a failed system, the Dodd bil tries to prop it up by giving yet more power to the Federal Reserve -- the very institution that inflated the credit bubble to begin with and  caused our present problems.

The rating system -- Moody's et all -- which failed to warn investors off the worst of the "toxic" debt instruments is retained as a government-endorsed monopoly. This system helped bring on the Great Recession -- and Dodd would let it continue.

Our "too big to fail" banks would huddle under Dodd's legislation, avoiding break-up and failure by means of the classic methods they have used in the past: regulatory capture.

Brad Delong, professor of Economics at the UC Berkeley, said:

What do you mean "right"? In backing away from the bill they are being friends of Wall Street and enemies of Main Street and middle America. But it is part of their plan to make Obama look like a failure on the hope that that wins them votes.

Craig Newmark, founder of, said:

Americans need relief from predatory financial institutions, but the banks, etc, have spent a lot of money on career politicians. (Note the work done by Consumer Reports and Sunlight Foundation.)

The bill's not a bad litmus test; if you're against helping Americans with financial reform, that says something. People will remember in November.