President Barack Obama can finally chalk up a win when he signs financial reform legislation into law this week. The trick now is to spin that victory into electoral gains this November, and both the White House and Democratic leaders are coordinating on a strategy they hope will make that happen.
After weeks of haggling, Senate Democratic leaders on Thursday at last overcame a GOP-led filibuster attempt and a budget point of order to pass the Wall Street reform package. The measure passed on a 60-39 vote, with the help of three Republicans, and despite the opposition of one Democrat, Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.).
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters after the vote that the bill will be a boon for Democrats heading into the midterm elections, arguing that Members can use the soon-to-be law to assure their constituents that they took action to address the circumstances that led to the near-collapse of financial markets in 2008.
We know how important this legislation is in Nevada. We can never, ever let this happen again. Had we not done this, it would have happened again, Reid said. This is going to be a tremendous plus in the elections, of course.
And that vote is just one of many that Democrats can tout back home as proof that their steadfast focus for the past year and a half has been on improving the lives of average Americans, according to White House senior adviser David Axelrod.
Theres great currency in this for upcoming elections, Axelrod said during a Friday conference call.
The larger point is in so many of the things weve done, weve tried to address concerns people face in their daily lives, whether its people with pre-existing conditions in health reform who will be able to get care, or working families trying to send their kids to colleges but cant get grants because there arent enough available, he said.
In the case of financial reform, Axelrod said Democrats can now take credit for giving individuals new rights relative to their credit card companies and for limiting penalties on mortgage holders.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was right on message on Thursday at the enrollment ceremony for the Wall Street bill: She underscored that financial reform is not just a win for Obama and Democrats, but also a victory for average Americans.
This legislation is one of the pillars of President Obamas building a new foundation for a stronger economy and a fair society, Pelosi said. It is important to the economic stability of our country as well as of our middle class and each and every American family I have today the extraordinary honor of signing a bill that promotes fairness for all Americans. That is an American value.
A senior House Democratic aide said Members are particularly eager to tout passage of financial reform in their districts because, unlike health care, the public recognizes that it wont suffer under it.
As a messaging vehicle, Democrats across the board like this one because its us versus Wall Street. Nobody believes the baloney about how this is going to hurt banks, the aide said.